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Summit Hill church to observe 160th anniversary on Sunday

Published October 14. 2009 05:00PM

The congregation of St. Paul Lutheran Church, Summit Hill, will take time on Sunday, Oct. 18, to note a milestone in the church's history, when parishioners, friends and former pastors will celebrate the 160th anniversary of the founding of the church.

Bishop Rev. Samuel Zeiser, head of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, will participate in the 10:30 a.m. service, during which time he will be the guest preacher. The host pastor, the Rev. John F. Hazel Jr., will preside and will be assisted in the service by SALM (Synodically-appointed lay minister) Emma Weaver, a member of St. Paul's. Special music will be a part of the service.

The public is cordially invited to share in this worship. The celebration will continue with a dinner following the service at the Mahoning Ambulance, by reservation only.

St. Paul's history began in 1849 with early parishoners gathering in homes throughout Summit Hill. Prior to that time, loyal Lutherans walked from Summit Hill to Tamaqua every Sunday to attend services in a church of their own denomination.

During that year, the Rev. Peter Oberfeld, then pastor in Tamaqua, received permission from his superiors to divide his duties and serve the parishioners in these two communities. Upon organization of the congregation in Summit Hill, services were for a time held monthly in the Presbyterian church. They were also conducted in the old schoolhouse.

Rev. Oberfeld was killed in the Tamaqua flood of 1850, having drowned after being caught in the floodwaters while trying to rescue a child. A pastoral successor started serving this Lutheran circuit in 1851.

In 1865, persons of Reformed and Lutheran faiths erected a union church in Summit Hill, where both congregations worshipped until about 15 years. The Lutherans secured the old German Methodist Church in 1880, thereby becoming independent.

For some years, the congregation had no regular pastor, and was served by theological students. In 1897, during the pastorate of the Rev. H.C. Erbes, the present church was erected. The cornerstone was laid on Sept. 5 of that year, while the dedication service was held on Dec. 12 of that year.

The church has no records of the exact date of its beginning in 1849, and has relied on historical information contained in "The History of Carbon County" by Frederick Charles Brenkman.

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