Nestled in the gently rolling hills of Weisenberg Township, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, Ziegels Union Church has been ministering to the community for over 250 years. The first settlers, mostly Germans fleeing the Palatine area, began settlements in the region in 1743. Until they could establish houses of worship, they often met in private homes.
In 1750, our congregations erected the first church, a log building, and dedicated it on the 29th of July that same year. From the start, Ziegels was established as a Union Church, meaning it was home to two congregations who shared the care and expenses of the church. Originally established by the Evangelical Lutheran and German Reformed traditions, the church today is home to their descendants, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the United Church of Christ (UCC). The name Ziegels derives from the German word ziegel or tile as the first log church had a tile roof, typical of many structures at that time in Germany. In addition to the church, the congregations made provisions for a schoolhouse and a “spacious burying ground.”
By 1795, the congregations decided to build a new church as they had outgrown the log church. Members decided to relocate the church, but only after a “throwing of hats,” where members tossed their hat as a vote to one of two possible locations. The stone church had a wine glass pulpit with an altar shaped like the Ark of the Covenant before it. For “eight hundred and fifty dollars in Gold and Silver Money,” the church commissioned the son of the Lutheran minister to build its first organ in 1810. The stone church was replaced in 1864 by a large brick church with a towering white steeple.
This steeple attracted a “shaft of electric fluid” in 1887 and burnt to the ground. Another brick church was erected on the same location and like its predecessor, it too burned after its steeple was struck by lightning.
Within the remains of the fourth church, the present church was constructed in 1908. The original building had gallery seating and the rear gallery was home to the organ. An “eye of God,” painted above the arch at the altar, surveyed the worshippers. The addition and renovations of 1956 changed the sanctuary to its present appearance. The congregations added an additional wing in 1990 to provide additional Sunday School classrooms and office space.
The year 2000 marked the 250th anniversary of our first church building. The congregations celebrated our joint religious heritage throughout the course of that year. The legacy of our past has inspired our mission for today and tomorrow. Ziegels Union Church invites you to join us in continuing to provide a beacon of God’s love within our community and the world.