First English Lutheran Church

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Walking Tour Stop

First English Lutheran Church

Meet Rev. William P. Evans:

Good evening. I’m Reverend William Evans. Are you looking for a place of worship? The site here was purchased in 1850 with the intention of housing a church. It took two years and $6,390.50 to complete the building, causing the newly founded congregation to fall into immediate debt. The congregation was incorporated on March 8, 1853 under the title of the English Lutheran Congregation of Columbia. During the following years, the congregation increased in number of members and was able to discharge all debts and liabilities. Under the ministry of Rev. J. C. Burke, the church underwent numerous improvements. It was enlarged, remodeled, and furnished with modern conveniences at an expense of $1000. It seemed at that time that the church was back on track!

However, in the spring of 1881, many members of the congregation withdrew for
unknown reasons and began a congregation of their own, further uptown. The church was left without a pastor until I assumed charge on July 1st. Since that time, I’m proud to say there had been a steady growth in the congregation and significant reduction to the church debt. We had nearly 200 members, a flourishing Sunday school, and a well-equipped library. The congregation flourished here until 1952 when members moved to a new location on 5th and Chestnut.

Shortly after, the building was sold and passed from one owner to the next. This quaint little house of worship with its decorative crowning and stained glass windows was reduced to a machine shop. In 1981 the machine shop owners donated the building to the newly formed Columbia Historical Preservation Society to be used as a museum. The society at that time was led by a renowned group of historians including Rollin Morse and Jean Motter. Now in its 40th year, the Historical society continually strives to preserve the antiquity of one of the most historic towns in the nation.

I thank you all for stopping by and allowing me to embrace you with a small part of Columbia’s history. It’s well known that this small rivertown has a lot of it. That
concludes the Columbia Living History Plaque Tour. You’re all invited to stop by
Columbia Kettle Works to take advantage of your $5 coupon. Thank you again!

21 N. 2nd St, Columbia, PA 17512

The Evangelical English Lutheran Church dates back to 1849, when Rev. J. H. Menjes of Mount Joy preached at stated times in the English language about the German Lutheran Church on Walnut Street. Shortly after, he found the location in Columbia and dedicated his time to preparing the way for the organization of an exclusively English Lutheran Church. 


Land for the site of the church was purchased on April 2, 1850, and the building finished over the next 2 years for a price of $6,390.50, more than half of which remained as debt against the new congregation. 


The congregation was incorporated by special act of the Legislature, March 8, 1853, under the title of the English Lutheran Congregation of Columbia.

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