To help appreciate the next historical segment, it is appropriate to digress to 1529 in Marburg, Germany, and share that there were European factions who did not endorse Martin Luther’s fifteen doctrines and articles. One such individual was Ulrich Zwingli who is considered to be the “Father of the Reformed Church”. In as much as he supported Luther’s campaign to separate from the Catholic Church, he adamantly opposed the divine elements of Holy Communion as proposed by Luther. Luther maintained that Christ’s body and blood existed in, with, and under the elements of the bread and wine. Zwingli advocated the symbolic presence of these elements and questioned whether “the true body and the true blood of Christ be corporeally (physically) present in the blood and wine”. Zwingli allegedly extended a hand of willingness and cooperation to Luther in an effort to develop an understanding between the two parties. Luther refused to accept this gesture which eventually led to the formation of the Reformed Church. Over time, through the influence from varied scholars, Martin conceded and Reformed believers were encouraged to be respected by the Lutherans in Germany.
Moving forward to the early 1700’s, the American movement to support Union Churches (congregations of Lutheran and Reformed worshiping under one roof) was the result of logistics and survival. It was common that the two congregations were unable to sustain two separate properties due to poverty and sparse population yet their religious principles were similar enough to be cohesive. They gravitated towards each other as there was a need to be a united force to combat the hardships of pioneer life. Protection against the Indians and other oppressors would be more powerful as one - thus the urgency for a community of these two congregations was essential for their survival. The Jordan Church was one such gathering place for the two congregations. It is recorded that the Reformed congregation would at times worship with the Lutheran Congregation at Jordan Church as the supply of Reformed ministers was fewer than those available to the Northampton County Lutheran congregations. This union relationship existed until 1752 when a major dispute over land acquisition permanently severed the partnership between the two congregations.
The historical references to the dispute that dissolved this relationship have similar yet varied accounts. Within each script, Lorenz Guth, who supported Jordan’s growth as a church and community, is mentioned. Guth, a member of the Reformed Church, was a respected, wealthy landowner. From the perspective of the Lutheran congregation, the original land upon which the Union Church log building was erected was thought to be the land of the two congregations and was held in common. Since final contracts for the rights to the land had not been signed, there were no legal rights. Allegedly there were frequent discussions among the leaders of both congregations that travel to Philadelphia was imperative in order to secure the right for the property. The multiple postponements from the Reformed leaders motivated the Lutheran elders to take action and make a secret trek south to ensure legal rights to the land in the name of the Lutheran Church. During a subsequent Sunday Service when the Reformeds were worshiping, an announcement was made that the Lutherans now owned the land and church. Lorenz Guth, upon hearing this is to have said: “Boys, in six weeks there should be a church standing there!” referencing the property currently owned by Jordan UCC.
In the Reformed account, it is recorded the postponements and delays to ensure the legal land rights was postponed by both parties “as it often goes with this world!” When the Reformed congregation became aware of the Lutherans actions, those assembled were blindsided and talked among themselves as to their future. Lorenz Guth is to have declared at this gathering: “Here we will have no more services, but over there”, and pointed to a trek of land he owned further east. “There”, he said, “build, and in four weeks you will find a church in which we can hold our services!” Guth donated 50 acres of his land to the Reformed congregation upon which a new log church was erected. This would be known as the “Glebe”, loosely translated “A piece of land assigned to a clergyman for his benefit”.
In spite of this volatile separation, fences between our two congregations have been mended and our region is blessed to have two strong neighboring faith based institutions that are enthusiastically spreading God’s Word.