During the 1760’s through the early 1800’s, America experienced unprecedented growth, now recognized as the Industrial Revolution. It appeared as if America’s economic growth was unstoppable and efficient. Innovative machinery was invented that helped fuel this growth. Increased production was realized and production grew at a staggering rate. The spinning jenny, the steam engine and steamboat, the development of a hard surfaced road, the McCormick reaper and cotton gin contributed to this growth. While the South was benefiting from massive cotton and tobacco harvests and production complimented by cheap slave labor, the North benefited from these products and through savvy distribution both domestically and internationally - the entire nation was thriving. However, in the 1840’s the southern states believed seceding from the highly industrialized northern states would be to their economic benefit and the grumblings of a civil war were brewing.
When war became a reality, several members of Jordan played a part in supporting the efforts of the North. Thomas Yeager and Tilghman Good, both achieving the rank of Captain, were two of the First Defenders who marched through the rebellious Baltimore and onto Washington. Another member, Lewis Seip, served valiantly under Thomas Yeager. Even Pastor Schindel became directly involved when he was elected State Senator in 1858, during his tenure as pastor of the Jordan Lutheran Church. In the late winter of 1861 he resigned his duties at Jordan to be enlisted as Chaplain in the 110th Regiment P.V. Few other details are mentioned in Jordan’s archives relevant to the Civil War beyond what was mentioned here. Rest assured that Jordan persevered and became stronger through this difficult time, as is often the case when faith based congregations seek comfort and strength within their church community.
Jordan was lamenting the resignation of their beloved Pastor Schindel when the blessing of an appointment of Reverend Owen Leopold was announced, a mere three weeks following Schindel’s departure. Pastor Leopold had an ambitious, defined vision for Jordan and his key goal was to enhance the Sunday School program that in turn increased the attendance at services. In a years’ time the Sunday School attendance mushroomed by 700% creating the dilemma of limited space. The Council met on January 1st, 1868, and approved an ambitious campaign to renovate the sanctuary and create the basement under the church. The renovations began that April at a staggering cost of $2,382.52, two-thirds the cost of the original sanctuary. During this construction the Reformed Church offered their once rival, Jordan Lutheran Church, a place to worship, truly an extension of an olive branch that helped to mend fences between these two congregations. The re-dedication took place on August 16, 1868. One notable enhancement to the sanctuary was a massive mural painted on the sanctuary wall where our pulpit stands. A cabinet within our Memory Room illustrates this grandiose crucifixion scene. While all this was transpiring, Pastor Leopold continued to serve other churches in the area during his service at Jordan. This became a daunting task for the Pastor and in May, 1883, it was announced that Pastor Leopold would resign his position with Jordan to cater to the other congregations he served. It was time for Jordan to hire a pastor who would dedicate his time and resources toward the growth of our flourishing congregation. Pastor Leopold moved on with the good wishes from a grateful congregation who had come to love this remarkable man.
Again, Jordan experienced a brief time without a pastor and on June 10, 1883, Reverend Bernd was called to serve Jordan Lutheran. Within the employment agreement, a pact had been made between the Call Committee and their new Pastor that the respectable $500 salary would be kept a secret as “Our people have never yet been accustomed to making up positive amounts and are naturally prejudiced. It will undoubtedly come all right in time.”
With visions similar to Pastor Leopold, Pastor Bernd viewed Jordan as a congregation positioned for growth. He is credited with introducing English services to Sunday services which would have likely been met with resistance, he encouraged Jordan to allocate funds directed towards benevolent purposes and orchestrated a campaign that would outfit our church with coal oil lamps enabling our sanctuary to be utilized for evening services. In addition, a more efficient heating system was installed at a cost of $151. The Shed Building Association built a large wooden shed to house the horses used to transport members - yearly rental was a mere $5 per stall. With growth abounding, Jordan supported a catechetical class of 36 students in 1887.
His most obvious and visual achievement was the construction of a fine steeple towering 135’ into the air, boasting intricate millwork and a massive cross on its peak. Archived photos in our Memory Room cabinets illustrate the construction and the completed masterpiece. Dedicated on November, 7, 1886, the steeple cost $2,539 plus $341 for the bell. This magnificent steeple provided a grand entrance on the first floor and a second floor room was designed to house the pipes and pumper of a future organ. Completed in 1887, the new organ was built by Samuel Bohler of Reading, at a cost of $1,336.90, boasting two manuals having 58 keys on each manual with multiple pedals and swells. When completed, it was recognized as being one of the largest of its kind in the Valley and gave magnificent praise to an all-gracious God for the next 77 years.
In July of 1889, Jordan’s beloved Pastor Bernd accepted a position as Professor of Latin and Greek at the Keystone State Normal School at Kutztown. Jordan was again without a Pastor.