Well into the 1700’s local Indians were coerced to co-exist with the settlers and caught amidst the brutal skirmishes between the encroaching French and English forces. The English troops were aggressive against the Indians and arrived with the intention of establishing colonies without regard to the Indians or their rights. Two ultimatums were presented to the Indians that included forcing their tribes to relocate further west or accept of the ways of the English. The French, on the other hand, took a more compassionate approach and their dealings with the Indians were often cordial. As the French and English forces continued to clash, the Indians allied with the French for obvious reasons. There were violent outbreaks between all three parties in this area and it was common for Jordan’s services to be interrupted by gun fire. Guards with rifles manned the doors of the Jordan Church during their gatherings providing necessary protection. In 1763, a significant battle between the Indians and settlers erupted following dishonest transactions by white settlers with their unsuspecting, naive Indian neighbors. While this turmoil was a way of life in the Jordan Valley, our congregation persisted in sharing God’s word with the Indians. Several of those who received God’s grace were baptized and are buried at the foot of the old cemetery.
Within the Eastern Pennsylvania Lutheran Church, Peter Muhlenberg, the eldest son of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, along with his father, continued to make a positive impact in the unification of the local Lutheran Congregations. In April of 1768, Peter visited the poor yet vibrant Jordan congregation, preaching in both German and English, and was well received by the congregation. Peter’s impressive career led him to become a Major General in the Army, serving at Yorktown and Brandywine, Vice President of Pennsylvania and then United States Senator. Records indicate that his father, H. M. Muhlenberg visited the Jordan congregation on July 10th, 1770. There is no record of Henry having preached at Jordan, likely due to the late hour of arrival. When Muhlenberg visited, the congregation had already dismantled the church and used logs from the original building to build a substantial, two-story parsonage for their beloved Pastor Jung. (You will find the rendering of this parsonage in our Memory Room that includes the addition erected in 1811.) In spite of Jordan being the poorest congregation in the area according to Muhlenberg, the parishioners had built this fine home and were in the process of erecting a “commodious” (substantial) stone church, as was recorded by Muhlenberg following his visit to Jordan. It was during this visit that the elders of Jordan Lutheran approached Henry Muhlenberg for financial support to help fuel their ambitious expansion plan. We do not know if the United Congregations provided any of the requested funds, however it can be assumed that even if none were received, the congregation’s vision, in spite of their poverty, would not allow limited funds to stand in their way of building a new church and continue fostering Christ’s work in the Jordan Valley.
We are fortunate to have an accounting of the stone church that was completed in 1771. There were a total of three doors, two on the shorter walls and one on the taller one. The taller walls would have been those supporting the peaked roof. Lower and upper windows allowed light to enter and highlight the pulpit designed in a wine glass shape. As was common with German churches in Pennsylvania, the pulpit would have been raised above the floor to elevate the preacher to be closer to God. Its location would have been directly across from the main door on the long wall and provide the focal point when entering the sanctuary. An altar was set in front of the pulpit, paralleling the internal design of our church today. Leaning against the wall just right of the pulpit were two long poles with collection bags tied to the top of these poles. Attached to these bags were bells that when shaken would ring when passed throughout the church during collection to ensure that even those would had fallen asleep during the sermon would be awakened by the bells and provide their offering. A long aisle in front of the altar extended from one short wall to the other ending near the openings of the remaining two doors. A single center aisle leading up to the altar from the main door was flanked by benches. The entire floor was composed of locally manufactured brick. A three sided balcony was approachable from the two side doors on the short walls and in 1811 an organ was purchased that was situated in the balcony to the right of the pulpit. The interior had been plastered over the stone with the exception of the one wall behind the left balcony. Exhausted finances may have played a part in this never being finished. Stoves were placed at the front of the church on either side of the altar offering some comfort to the parishioners against the cold winter winds. For the next seventy one years, this impressive facility would house the Jordan Lutheran Congregation where believers heard the word of God and received the sacraments. We are fortunate to have the original cornerstone of this stone church on display above the East Door leading into the Old Social Hall.
Under the leadership of Pastor Jung, Jordan was enjoying an increase of church members. These years of growth, prosperity and stability would be abruptly hampered by challenges the inhabitants of the Jordan Valley were about to encounter.