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  The following is the program from Zion Lutheran Church’s 90th anniversary celebration held on October 13, 2002. 
Courtesy of Mr. David Hawk.




“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” 

Service of Holy Communion                       4:00 p.m.

Fellowship Dinner                                      5:30 p.m. 


Mission Statement: As part of the people of God baptized into Christ, the mission of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church is to proclaim in word and deed throughout the Nesquehoning area and the wider world, the Good News of God’s love shown by the death and resurrection of Jesus. 

Church Staff:                                                                  Ladies Auxiliary:

The Rev. Ben Ehrets, Pastor                                                Mrs. Helen Angst
Miss Ruth E. Pecha, Organist                                           Mrs. Verna Barnhart
Mrs. Barbara Pecha, Sexton                                               Mrs. Betty Higgins
Mr. Robert Pecha, Custodian                            Mrs. Connie Kravelk, President
                Ms. Judy Moon, Vice President
Mrs. Helen Morgans

Church Council:                                              Mrs. Barbara Pecha, Treasurer
Mr. Roy “Mickey” Angst                                     Miss Ruth E. Pecha, Secretary 
Mr. David A. Hawk                                                            Mrs. Betty Ricciardi
Mrs. Connie Kravelk                                                         Mrs. Frances Watto 
Mr. John McGowen                                                            Mrs. Betty Winton 
Mrs. Susan Miller                                                                 Mrs. Rose Winton 
Ms. Judy Moon                                                             
Mrs. Barbara Pecha, Secretary 
Mrs. Frances Watto, Vice President                      Congregational Offices:
Mrs. Vera Yaniga                                               Mr. David A. Hawk, Treasurer
Mr. Stephen Higgins, Financial Secretary



Summit Hill-Nesquehoning Lutheran Parish
Nesquehoning Pennsylvania
Ninetieth Anniversary Celebration
October 13, 2002 

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 May the light of Christ, rising in glory, dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds.

The light of Christ.            THANKS BE TO GOD!

The light of Christ.            THANKS BE TO GOD!

The light of Christ.            THANKS BE TO GOD!

Christ is risen!                   HE IS RISEN INDEED!


Praise to the Lord, the Almighty 

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation;
O my soul, praise him, for he is thy health and salvation:
All ye who hear, Now to his temple draw near;
Joining in glad adoration. 

Praise to the Lord, who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under his wings, yea, so gently sustaineth:
Hast thou not seen? All that is needful hath been
Granted in what he ordaineth. 

Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely his goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew What the Almighty can do,
If with his love he befriend thee! 

Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore him;
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before him!
Let the Amen Sound from his people again;
Gladly for aye we adore him. Amen.


Sisters and brothers, the Apostle teaches us that by baptism we were buried with Christ and lay dead in order that as Christ was raised from the dead in the splendor of the Father, so we should set our feet on the new path of light. Therefore, let us renew the promises made at our baptism. I therefore ask you, do you renounce the devil, and all his works, and all his ways?


Do you believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth?


Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, Born of the Virgin Mary, Suffered under Pontius Pilate, Was crucified, dead, and buried: Descended into hell; The third day rose again from the dead; Ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; Whence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead?


Do you believe in the Holy Ghost; The Holy Christian Church, the Communion of Saints; The Forgiveness of sins; The Resurrection of the body, And the Life everlasting?


The Lord be with you.


Let us pray:




First Lesson - Isaiah 40: 1 –11 

St. John’s Choir                  Prayer of St. Francis                 Sebastian Temple


Second Lesson - I Peter 2:1-9

A Mighty Fortress is Our God 

A mighty fortress is our God,    A bulwark never failing;
Our helper he amid the flood    Of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great,
And armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide    Our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side,    The man of God’s own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabaoth his Name,
From age to age the same,
And he must win the battle. 

Gospel Procession                                                                            John 14:1-6 

And though this world, with devils filled,    Should threaten to undo us;
We will not fear, for God hath willed    His truth to triumph through us:
The prince of darkness grim,
We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure,
For lo! His doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him. 

That word above all earthly powers,    No thanks to them abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours    Through him who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also;
The body they may kill:
God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.

Homily                   “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” 

Anniversary Offering 

St. John’s Choir                         Loving God                     Dave and Jean Perry 

Offertory Procession 

Old Hundredth 

All people that on earth, do dwell,
Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice;
Him serve with mirth, his praise forth tell,
Come ye before him, and rejoice. 

Know that the Lord is God indeed;
Without our aid he did us make;
We are his folk, he doth us feed,
And for his sheep he doth us take. 

O enter then his gates with praise;
Approach with joy his courts unto;
Praise, laud, and bless his Name always,
For it is seemly so to do. 

For why? the Lord our God is good:
His mercy is forever sure;
His truth at all times firmly stood,
And shall from age to age endure. 

To Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
The God whom heaven and earth adore,
From men and from the angel-host
Be praise and glory evermore. Amen. 


The Lord be with you.


Lift up your hearts.


Let us give thanks unto the Lord our God.


It is truly meet, right and salutary, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto thee, O Lord, Holy Father, Almighty, Everlasting God: But chiefly are we bound to praise thee for the glorious Resurrection of thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord: for he is the very Paschal Lamb, which was offered for us, and hath taken away the sin of the world; who by his death hath destroyed death, and by his rising to life again hath restored to us everlasting life. Therefore with Angels, and Archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify thy glorious Name; evermore praising thee, and saying:






The Prayer of Thanksgiving 

The Lord’s Prayer 

Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil.



The peace of the Lord be with you always.


Agnus Dei 

O Christ, thou Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us. O Christ, thou Lamb of God, That takest away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us. O Christ, thou Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the world, grant us thy peace. Amen. 

The Distribution of the Sacrament of the Altar


St. John’s Choir          This Do In Remembrance of Me          Judy Hunnicutt 

O Living Bread from Heaven 

O living Bread from heaven, How hast thou fed thy guest!
The gifts thou now hast given Have filled my heart with rest.
O wondrous food of blessing, O cup that heals our woes,
My heart, this gift possessing, In thankful song o’erflows! 

My Lord, thou here hast led me Within thy holiest place,
And there thyself hast fed me With treasures of thy grace;
And thou hast freely given What earth could never buy,
The Bread of Life from heaven, That now I shall not die. 

Thou givest all I wanted, The food can death destroy;
And thou hast freely granted The cup of endless joy.
Ah, Lord, I do not merit The favor thou hast shown,
And all my soul and spirit Bow down before thy throne. 

Lord, grant me that, thus strengthened With heavenly food, while here
My course on earth is lengthened, I serve with holy fear;
And when thou call’st my spirit To leave this world below,
I enter, through thy merit, Where joys unmingled flow. Amen. 

Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee 

Joyful, joyful we adore thee, God of glory, Lord of love!
Hearts unfold like flow’rs before thee, Praising thee, their Sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness, Drive the gloom of doubt away.

Giver of immortal gladness, Fill us with the light of day.

All thy works with joy surround thee, Earth and heav’n reflect thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around thee, Center of unbroken praise:
Field and forest, vale and mountain, Flow’ry meadow, flashing sea,
Chanting bird, and flowing fountain Call us to rejoice in thee. 

Thou art giving and forgiving, Ever blessing, ever blest,
Wellspring of the joy of living, Ocean‑depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father, Christ our Brother, All who live in love are thine;
Teach us how to love each other, Lift us to the joy divine!

Nunc Dimitis 

Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace; According to thy word; For mine eyes have seen thy salvation: Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles: and the glory of thy people Israel. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost: As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. 

O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good.

Pour forth upon us, O Lord, the spirit of thy love, that by thy mercy thou mayest make of one will those whom thou hast fed with one heavenly food; through thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, World without end.

The Lord be with you.
Bless we the Lord.

The Lord bless thee, and keep thee. The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee. The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace: In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

St. John’s Choir                   Choral Benediction                              Don Besig

Lift High the Cross 

Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim
Till all the world adore his sacred name. 

Come Christians, follow where our captain trod,
Our king victorious, Christ, the Son of God.
Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim
Till all the world adore his sacred name. 

Led on their way by this triumphant sign,
The hosts of God in conqu’ring ranks combine.
Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim
Till all the world adore his sacred name. 

All newborn soldiers of the Crucified
Bear on their brows the seal of him who died.
Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim
Till all the world adore his sacred name. 

O Lord, once lifted on the glorious tree,
As thou hast promised, draw us all to thee.
Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim
Till all the world adore his sacred name. 

So shall our song of triumph ever be:
Praise to the Crucified for victory!
Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim
Till all the world adore his sacred name. 

Go in peace. Serve the Lord!

Today's Worship Leaders: 

Celebrant                                                    The Rev. David R. Rowe, Pastor,                                                                         Friedens Evangelical Lutheran Church, Oley
Homilist                         The Rev. Kurt E. Garbe, Associate of the Bishop,
Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod
Assisting Ministers                                        The Rev. Carl A. Borger, Retired
The Rev. Ben Ehrets, Pastor,
Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, Nesquehoning and
St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Summit Hill 
The Rev. Warren S. Harding, Retired 
Organist                                                           Miss Ruth E. Pecha, Organist,
     Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, Nesquehoning
Offertory Presenters                                                   Mr. & Mrs. Roy Angst
Ushers                                                                           Mr. Donald Harakal                                                                                        Mr. David A. Hawk                                                                                              Mr. John McGowen                                                                                                                     Mr. Karl Pecha
Greeters                                                                        Mr. Stephen Higgins                                                                                                     Ms. Judy Moon


The Anniversary Offering, together with other gifts, will be used to purchase new front doors for Zion, except for a tithe, which will be given to the St. Luke’s Manor and Pavilion of Hazleton, Pennsylvania. 

The present front doors, opening into the narthex off of Catawissa Street, are uninsulated and drafty, prone to sweating and icing in the winter. New, insulated doors with improved weather sealing will afford improved heating efficiency and less maintenance. 

Today’s Anniversary Booklets are given to the glory of God in memory of the Rev. Robert H. Williams and his daughter Rachael, by Mrs. Frances Watto.

The Altar Flowers are given to the glory of God by St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Summit Hill.

The Dinner Floral Arrangements are given to the glory of God by Bob, Barbara and Ruth Pecha in memory of loved ones. 

Today’s Anniversary Favors are presented by the Zion Ladies Auxiliary in memory of our deceased Pastors and The Rev. Kenneth W. Hawk II, Son of the Congregation. 

Thank You to all who helped plan the service, and contributed their time and effort to complete the many chores great and small for our celebration!

A Gracious Thanks to Eleanor Perry and the choir of St. John’s Lutheran Church (Heights), Jim Thorpe for providing special music. 

Special Thanks to the Zion Ladies Auxiliary for preparing and serving the dinner; and to Mrs. Barbara Cerimele and Mr. David A. Hawk for designing and printing the Anniversary Booklets.


 -Portions of the liturgy are reprinted from Service Book and Hymnal copyright ©1958, by permission of Augsburg Fortress.

 -Portions of the liturgy are reprinted from Lutheran Book of Worship copyright ©1978, by permission of Augsburg Fortress.

 -Portions of the liturgy are adapted and reprinted from Manual on the Liturgy – LBW copyright ©1979. Used by permission of Augsburg Fortress.

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Blessing of the Meal                       The Rev. Ben Ehrets 

Food and Fellowship
Turkey, Ham and Cake & Ice Cream

Introduction of Honored Guests                                  The Rev. Ben Ehrets
Remembrances                 Former Pastors and Friends of the Congregation
Remembrances                                                                          Congregants 

Honored Guests:
The Rev. Sara Ehrets                 Pastor, St. John’s Lutheran Church (Heights), Jim Thorpe
The Rev Walter W. Breiner, Jr.                           Pastor, Zion Lutheran Church, Weatherly
The Rev. Fred Crawford                Pastor, Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, Tamaqua
The Rev. John Keider 
             Pastor, Trinity Lutheran and St. John’s Slovak Lutheran                                                                                                    Churches,Lansford
Mrs. Marjorie Keider                        Seminarian, Field Education Student,
Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, Nesquehoning
Mrs. Eleanor Brown          Wife of The Rev. Donald L. Brown (deceased),
Past Pastor of Zion
Mrs. Sue Swavely                   Wife of The Rev. John Swavely (deceased),
Pastor Emeritus, St. John’s Lutheran, Jim Thorpe (East), and
Past Interim Pastor of Zion during pastoral transition
The Rev. and Mrs. Daniel Shook                                                      Retired

SINCE 1912 .... 

Congregational archives indicate the first efforts to establish a Lutheran witness in Nesquehoning began in 1895 through the visitation of the Rev. Dr. L. Lindenstruth. Later, in 1911, the Rev. C. K. Fegley visited the town with the Rev. Dr. Rehrig and the Rev. J. H. Kuder, President of the Ministerium of Pennsylvania and Adjacent States. 

The record of Zion’s birth is described in two places in the Minutes of the Ministerium: 

Nesquehoning, Pa. - This is another field in the Wilkes-Barre Conference. The work here was also called attention to by President Kuder. Field Missionary Fegley was sent to canvass the field and regular services are now being conducted [1911, Fourth Session, p. 89]. 

Our two field missionaries, Rev. Chas. K. Fegley, and the Rev. U. S. Bertolet have been busy looking after the missions committed to their care .... Rev. Fegley has labored at Nesquehoning and Palmerton, recently giving Nesquehoning over into the care of the missionary at Packerton, and giving his undivided attention to Palmerton; thence he will go to the work which has been mapped out in the city of Allentown [1912, Fourth Session, p. 59]. 

The first Lutheran service was conducted by Pastor Fegley on February 12, 1911, in Corby’s Hall. On Easter of that year, the first service of Holy Communion was held, with twelve persons receiving the sacrament. A Catechism Class was promptly organized, and four adults were subsequently confirmed on July 30. Sunday School was organized on October 8, with an enrollment of forty-five. 

 The first congregational meeting was held on February 3, 1912, and the proposal of the Home Mission Board of the Ministerium was accepted, yoking Zion, Nesquehoning with Zion, Packerton. The Rev. F. E. Reichard, pastor of the Packerton Mission was elected the first pastor, beginning May 1912. Congregational organization was completed by June 27. 

Land for a church was purchased at the corner of Catawissa and Douglass (now Mermon) Streets in September 1913, and a building plan was prepared by Mr. Morris G. Prutzman of East Mauch Chunk (now Jim Thorpe). Ground was broken following Sunday School on October 4, 1914, with the cornerstone being laid by Pastor Reichard, who was assisted by the Rev. W. H. C. Lauer of Summit Hill. Pastors Rehrig and Fegley addressed the gathering. Services were first held in the building on December 5, 1915. 

Mr. Assman painted the church interior including the picture of the Ascension in the chancel above the altar in 1926. The pipe organ was donated by St. John’s Episcopal Church of East Mauch Chunk in 1928.

Pastor Reichard served Zion until 1945, and was succeeded by the Revs. Warren S. Harding, Carl A. Borger, and Edward O. Lukens. During these years, the many broad, cultural changes following World War II, especially the decline of the coal industry, reshaped Nesquehoning and the wider Panther Valley. The yoke with Zion Packerton, which for some years also included the Lutheran Church at Long Run, was dissolved following the Rev. Henry C. Kraft’s pastorate. In 1963, the Rev. Donald L. Brown, pastor of Saint Paul’s Lutheran, Summit Hill, agreed to preach at Zion. Then, the Rev. Richard J. Bonser served as Vice Pastor, while Zion and Saint Paul’s began to explore a yoked arrangement. After initially serving as the Vice Pastor to both congregations, the Rev. Robert H. Richards was jointly called by Zion and Saint Paul’s in 1975, formally establishing a new parish. The Rev. Robert H. Williams, the Rev. David R. Rowe, and currently the Rev. Ben Ehrets have in their turn served the Summit Hill‑Nesquehoning Lutheran Parish. 

More recently, Joan Katchmur of Hazleton restored the painting of the Ascension in 1980. Through a generous donation by Helen and David Hawk in memory of The Rev. Kenneth W. Hawk II, the altar furniture was refinished in 1999 to match the pews. The Ladies Auxiliary’s untiring efforts realized a new kitchen in 2000. And in 2001, the aging coal stoker was replaced with a new oil burner. 

While the world witnessed a great deal of change during the past nine decades, ranging from the advent of the industrial age to the advent of the technological age, the congregation also changed. The church that began with twelve people receiving the Sacrament of the Altar, grew to 129 communing members in 1942, and currently has just over 100 members. The Sunday School that first enrolled forty-five students, soon had over 130 in 1916, and then eventually disbanded in 1985. The Sunday School reorganized for a brief resurgence in the early 1990’s, to serve not only as a nurturing ministry for Zion’s young people, but also a mission to the unchurched, as in Zion’s early years. 

Many of Zion’s members from years past moved to other parts of the country and became leaders in churches in their new communities. Two of these members were ordained into the Ministry of Word and Sacrament: John W. Harding, son of the Rev. and Mrs. Warren S. Harding; and the Son of the Congregation, Kenneth W. Hawk II, son of Mrs. Helen Hawk and the late Kenneth W. Hawk, who was ordained by the Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod in 1983. 

Many members, however, have remained in the Nesquehoning area and continue to be faithful partners in the congregation’s ministry. Most significantly, however, some of Zion’s members are not originally from the town, have no earlier family ties to the congregation, and have become full partners and leaders in Zion’s life in recent years. This is an important sign for a congregation that not only remembers and honors the past, but also lives in the present, and looks forward to the future! 

Zion’s most significant ministry since 1912, regardless of whether it has sought to address hard times or good times, abundance or scarcity, old-timers or new members, old neighbors or some of our many new neighbors, is the same ministry that the one true church has always claimed as its eternal call and mission - to declare and proclaim the crucified and risen Christ through God’s Word and Sacraments, not only for the sake of the congregation, but for the sake of the world! 


Former Pastors: 

The Rev. Francis E. Reichard: Served 1912 to 1945. 

The Rev. Warren S. Harding: Served 1945 to 1948. He then served churches in Millcreek; Coopersburg; Phillipsburg, NJ; New Brunswick, NJ.; and St. Michael’s, Allentown. In retirement he served as interim pastor for 10 parishes, and is quite often a supply pastor, all along with having authored a book of prayers, earned his Master of Sacred Theology, and learned to swim and oil paint. 

Ruth, his wife, served as organist-choir director for St. Michael’s, Allentown until her recent “retirement”. Their daughter Vicki, and her husband, Ken, have two boys. Their son, John, and daughter-in-law, Deborah, were co-pastors of St. Matthew’s, North Weissport. John now serves as Pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Craigs Meadow (near East Stroudsburg) and Deborah serves as Pastor of Salem-St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Kresgeville. John and Deborah have five children – Jonathan, Michael, Whitney, and the twins Alison and Christian. 

The Rev. Carl A. Borger: Served 1949 to 1950. He later served Trinity, Lansford (1950-1954); Zion Lehigh, Alburtis and St. Paul’s Trexlertown (1954-1967); and the Port Carbon-Middleport Parish (1967-1991). Upon retirement, he served as Visitation Pastor of Trinity, Pottsville, and Interim Pastor of Salem Bellemans, Mohrsville. He continues to serve as supply pastor, and is presently Visitation Pastor of Alsace Church, Reading and St. John’s Church, Hamburg, and Interim Pastor of Jerusalem “Red” Lutheran Church, Kempton, all in his 53rd year of ministry. 

He and his wife, Cora, have two children. Son Mark Charles, a graduate of Penn State University, lives in Mechanicsburg and is Director of Workforce Development for Harrisburg Area Community College. Daughter Susan Diane DeCarlo, a graduate of Coombs College, was a Senior Vice-President for American Express, and presently lives in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey where she is a real estate agent.

The Rev. Edward O. Lukens: Served 1951 to 1956. 

The Rev. Henry C. Kraft: Served 1957 to 1963. 

The Rev. Donald L. Brown (1963-1967): Served as Stated Supply Pastor 1964 to 1967 while at St. Paul’s, Summit Hill. He then served Zion, Spies, Alsace Township (1967-1976); Zion, Minersville (1976-1984); and Jordan, Orefield (1984-1996). He was serving as Interim Pastor of Grace, Lehighton, St. Paul’s, Weissport and Zion, Packerton at the time of his death. 

Pastor Brown and his wife, Eleanor, had three sons born in the Panther Valley, and a daughter born in Reading. David is a University of Pennsylvania graduate, and is currently doing campus ministry and attending seminary. He lives in Allentown with his wife and eight-year-old son. Philip served in the military, and is currently building pipe organs in Akron, Ohio. He is married with three-year-old and one-year-old daughters. Kenneth graduated from Allen High School and lives at home. Barbara is a Muhlenberg College graduate, and is employed by St. Luke’s Hospital in Bethlehem. She and her husband have a three-year-old daughter and a newborn son. 

Eleanor is living in Allentown, doing volunteer work and enjoying her grandchildren. 

The Rev. Richard J. Bonser: Served as Vice Pastor 1970 to 1973. He later served St. Matthew's, Allentown (1973-1982); St. Paul’s, Bethlehem (1982-1996); and Christ Lutheran, Easton (1996-1998). Since 1999 he is serving as Visitation Pastor of St. John’s Windish Lutheran Church, Bethlehem 

Pastor Bonser and his wife, Carolyn, have been married 34 years. Carolyn continues to teach in the Jim Thorpe School District since 1983. They have two children. Stacy, a Penn State University graduate, lives in Wilkes-Barre with her husband Richard. Mark, a Lock Haven University graduate, lives and works in Baltimore. 

The Rev. Robert H. Richards: Served as Vice Pastor 1973 to 1975; and as Pastor to 1978. 

The Rev. Robert H. Williams: Served 1979 to 1985. 

The Rev. David R. Rowe: Served 1987 to 1994. Since leaving Zion, he is serving as Pastor of Friedens Evangelical Lutheran Church, Oley. He also continues to be active in synodical and churchwide expressions of the Lutheran church. 

Since settling into Oley, Mary, his wife, taught pre-kindergarten and kindergarten at an inner city preschool in Reading. More recently, Mary has become the director of a child care facility at a nearby Lutheran church.

Pastor Rowe and Mary have two children. Becky, a sophomore at Susquehanna University majoring in English with a minor in Religion, has an avid interest in literature, vocal music, and church activities. Andrew is a sophomore in high school. Like Becky before him, he sings in the Berks Classical Children’s Chorus. In addition to singing, he plays the tuba, enjoys sports, and is looking forward to attending the churchwide youth gathering next year in Atlanta. 

Present Pastor: 

The Rev. Ben Ehrets: Serving since 1996. 

Pastor Ben grew up attending St. Michael’s and Christ Lutheran Churches in Allentown. He is a 1985 graduate of Lehigh County Community College, and a 1987 graduate of Muhlenberg College with a degree in sociology. He attended Gettysburg Lutheran Theological Seminary where he graduated in 1992. 

Ordained in 1993, he served his first call as Pastor of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Birdsboro until 1995, before coming to Zion, Nesquehoning and St. Paul’s, Summit Hill. 

Pastor Ben met his wife, Sara, at seminary, and she now serves as Pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church (Heights), Jim Thorpe. Pastors Ben and Sara have a son, Odin Kristoffer, who was born in May 2001, and their cats Isaac and Aerielle. 

Son of the Congregation: 

The Rev. Kenneth W. Hawk II: Son of Mrs. Helen Hawk and the late Kenneth W. Hawk, was baptized and confirmed at Zion. He was ordained by the Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod in 1983 after graduating from the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. 

While in Seminary, Pastor Hawk served his internship at St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Kutztown. After ordination, Pastor Hawk served his first call as Pastor of the St. James and Mount Zion Lutheran Churches of the Nescopeck Parish from 1983 until 1992. In 1992, he served as Interim Pastor of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, Tamaqua. He served as Pastor of Christ Lutheran Church, Mahanoy City from 1993 until his death in 1998. 

While at Christ Lutheran, Pastor Hawk helped revitalize the Sunday School and started a Children’s Choir. He was active in the Cooperative Area Ministries, a Christian youth group for area children sponsored by the Mahanoy City churches. He participated in the Mahanoy Area Ministerial Association, an interdenominational group of area pastors, and gave of his time and talents to other community efforts.


Roy & Helen Angst & Family; son Daniel
Paul & June Bales
Linda Barnhart
Verna Barnhart
Mary Ruth Blisard
Robert Blisard
Christine Bock & Family; daughter Shanna Kulick
Dennis Creitz
Gertrude L. Dawe
Anthony & Mary DeAngelis
Anthony & Olivia DeStephanis
Joseph & Connie Domines & Family; daughter Jennifer, son Joseph
Rev. Ben & Rev. Sara Ehrets & Family; son Odin
Eleanor Feane
Susan Feane
John Feane & Family; daughter Lisa Solt
Donald & Barbara Harakal
David Harvan
Helen Hawk & Family; son David
Mabel Hellwinkel
Stephen & Betty Higgins
Louis & Althea Higgins Jr.
Gary & Trish Higgins & Family; daughter Katylin, son Gary
Edward & Marie Kemmerle
Anna Kennedy
Connie & Michael “Nunny” Kravelk
Mary LaRizzio & Family; mother Annette
Madeline Leibensperger & Family; son Larry McDaniel
James Marouchoc
Dawn May, Lorrie May, Eileen May
Charles “Chas” & Helen McMichael
Robert McMichael
William & Mary Ellen McMichael
William McMichael II & Family; daughter Katelyn
John & Dorothy McGowen
Faith Miller
Joseph Miller
Susan Miller
Judy Moon
Helen Morgan
Lisa Nothstein & Family; son Matthew
Suzanne & Jack Nothstein Sr.
Jack Nothstein Jr.
William & Lynne Nothstein Jr.
Jeffrey Pecha
John & Rosanne Pecha
Karl & Betty Pecha
Robert & Barbara Pecha & Family; daughter Ruth, son Erik, son Jason
Jonathan & Ariana Pecha & Family; daughter Abigail
Bettie Ricciardi & Family; mother Irene Whiteman
Steven & Linda Romankow & Family; daughter Kristen, son Brian, son Jimmie
Cheri Skodacek
Paul Skodacek
Ray & Lori Spallone & Family; daughter Felicia Boretski, son Brian Boretski, son Richard Boretski, son William Robinson
Donna Starosta & Family; son Jacob Miller, son Stephen Miller
Evelyn Stoffa
Keith & Anita Straubinger & Family; son Michael Atkinson
Walter & Marjorie Strohl & Family; daughter Pam, son Walter, son Jeffrey
Richard & Joyce Swartz
Donna & Joseph Trimmel & Family; daughter Jillian, son Joseph
Todd Truskey & Family; son Ryan
Doris Ulshafer
Walter Ulshafer
Robert & Kim Walck & Family; daughter Ashtin, son Jonathon Strohl
Frances Watto
Betty Winton
Donald & Rose Winton
Vera Yaniga
Paul Yaniga
Paul Zlock
Beverly & Robin Zurawa & Family; son Zachery

Within the House of God

The Church is always open
To worship and to pray,
And give you faith and guidance
To face each newborn day. 

Within this holy house of God
You will find strength anew,
And inner peace will find its way
In mind and soul of you. 

Amidst its walls of silence
You’ll find God always near,
To help you face each problem
And fill your heart with cheer. 

                                                            Harold F. Mohn


December 02. 2019 02:16PM

At a public sale Saturday, Andy Pedraza, community developer with The Lemic Group & JPCPA LLC, was the successful bidder of a century-old, 3,100-square-foot former church building at the corner of East Catawissa Street and North Mermon Avenue , Nesquehoning.

The building, built in 1914, served as Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church until September.

The sale also included all of the contents.

The building — with all furniture, pews, dinnerware and other items, such as bottles of sacramental wine — fetched a top bid of $40,000.

The brick, fortresslike structure occupies a prominent location at the traffic light in the central part of town and was used by the congregation as recently as September. It appeared to have been meticulously maintained. The property was in extremely neat and clean condition, essentially move-in condition with all systems fully functional, when the auctioneer declared it sold about 3 p.m.

Much like other houses of worship, the building was on the auction block due to the congregation’s dwindling numbers.

“We had 24 members, maybe 12 active,” said member David Hawk of Nesquehoning.

Hawk said members have dispersed and are now attending other churches in Summit Hill, Jim Thorpe and Lansford.

Among the 28 in attendance at the sale were developers, investors and contractors, all of whom checked out the integrity of the historic structure. Among them were Charles Bott of Jim Thorpe and Tom Kattner of Nesquehoning. Both admired the stability and quality of construction. The church appeared to have a newer roof and 10-year-old furnace.

Some attendees just wanted to see the place one more time, perhaps owing to emotional attachment.

“I’ve been a member here since 1950,” said Bob Pecha of Nesquehoning, now a member of St. John’s Slovak Lutheran in Lansford.

“I got married here. All of my children were baptized here and married here,” he said, recalling how he watched his daughter as she first played the church organ at age 6.

Sold as-is

The building was sold by Doug Houser of Houser Auctioneers of New Ringgold, Schnecksville and Allentown .

The sale included an 1885 tracker-type pipe organ, a special design built to last for centuries, along with oak pews, built-in oak cabinets and numerous stained glass memorial windows funded by early congregation members.

The significance of the church’s history was not lost on the buyer.

“I plan to keep it the way it is,” said Pedraza, who said he understands the value of heritage associated with such a building. “It’d be a crying shame,” he said, referring to the idea of making drastic changes.

The church’s downstairs includes multiple kitchens, offices, baths and a large Sunday school room and social hall. One level beneath the basement is a steam heat system. Because the building was built on a hillside, the lower level is above ground at the rear and has separate double-door access and off-street parking.

Pedraza said he intends to live in the lower level with his girlfriend and a pet cat.

He is open to the idea of allowing the community to continue to use the church’s main sanctuary space, reception area and facilities upstairs.

According to Zion ’s anniversary booklet, ground was broken for the church on Oct. 4, 1914, with the cornerstone placed by Pastor Reichard and the Rev. W.H.X. Lauer of Summit Hill. The first services were held in the completed building on Dec. 5, 1915.

The congregation celebrated a centennial in 2012, recognizing the founding of the faith community.




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