The History of Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church

Christ Lutheran Church has been serving the Hazleton area for more than 150 years. We invite you to learn more about our origins, and join us in writing the next chapter of our storied history.

Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church came into being in 1862 when a number of members withdrew from the first German congregation in Hazleton. Feeling the need to identify themselves as distinctly Lutheran, they separated from what was then a “union” church and broke ground in September for a new church building on the site of our present edifice at the intersection of Church Street and Green Street. The cornerstone was laid on September 25, 1862 by the Rev. R.S. Wagner, the first regular pastor of the congregation. The building was dedicated to the glory of God on the day of Pentecost 1863.

The congregation grew steadily and soon plans were drawn for a new church building. The cornerstone for the new structure was laid on November 21, 1886, and it was dedicated on November 27, 1887.

Christ congregation then faced the challenges of becoming an English-speaking church. During the twenty-year term of the Rev. J.O. Schlenker, (1890 – 1911) the English language was introduced at evening worship services. In 1890 the German Sunday School was formed and in 1903 the English Sunday School was organized. All of this demonstrated efforts to help members assimilate into a community and culture that were blended and primarily English speaking. Furthermore, the efforts were indicative of serious commitment to Christian education for all ages.

On November 1, 1915, the Rev. Franklin T. Esterly was called as pastor of Christ Lutheran Church. Among his many achievements, the building of our present church and school buildings remain his most significant. The Parish House was built first, the cornerstone being laid on August 16, 1925. During construction of the buildings, Sunday services were held in the Vine Street School and weekday meetings in the City Hall Auditorium. The building was dedicated on November 2, 1930.

Each of the succeeding pastors brought unique gifts for the edification of the church. The Rev. Allen Roth (1947-1969) exhibited fine interpersonal skills essential in pastoral care and visitation. The Rev. Daniel Eckert (1970-1978) was a keen administrator who introduced multiple pastoral staff to Christ Church. Pastor Stanley Trout (1979-2004) brought with him a love of liturgy. Significant reforms were enacted, including weekly Eucharist and the television broadcast of Sunday worship. The Rev. Wayne Lupole (2006-present) brings with him parish background as well thirteen years experience as a hospice chaplain.

Christ Lutheran Church faces challenges to creative ministry in downtown Hazleton. It has made great strides in maintaining its facilities, while at the same time using those facilities in service to the community.

The Church is blessed to have an attractive and inspiring worship space, a rich liturgical heritage, and an outstanding four-rank pipe organ played by an accomplished organist of more than 20 years, Mr. Mark Billet.

Christ Lutheran Church parish house under construction
the exterior of Christ Lutheran Church parish house in Hazleton, PA
Christ Lutheran Church Choir singing
Christ Lutheran Church Sunday School