In the 1830’s, under the ministerial leadership of Pastor Jeremiah Schindel, five local churches (including Jordan) were experiencing unprecedented growth. It is recorded that from 1838 to 1839, Pastor Schindel increased his joint congregation from 302 communicants to over 1,000! During this period he was also assigned to serve a sixth church. To help with this growth and support his mission, Pastor Schindel was provided with students of Theology that he trained and educated. Several of these students went on to oversee additional churches in the Valley, becoming pastors in their own right. Our church and the Lutheran churches surrounding us were indeed fortunate to reap the benefits of this pastor’s enthusiastic vision and growth oriented leadership. Jordan was now in need of a larger building to serve its thriving congregation. The stone church, the haven that served our community for 72 years, would be replaced. The corner stone of the new church, where we currently worship, was laid on July 31, 1842. Less than a year later, on June 4, 1843, the new, massive, beautiful church was dedicated. The next time you enter our sanctuary take time to envision what the church may have looked like back then. The traditional raised pulpit with the mirrored stairwell was the focal point of the sanctuary, window sashes with classic, period imperfection glass let the sun shine into the cavernous room. There was no narthex gracing the entrance - you would walk directly into the sanctuary. The pews were straight backed and likely unforgiving to all who worshiped at Jordan. As far as the heat, stoves were situated around the sanctuary barely able to take the sting off the chill of the wintry Sunday mornings. The privy was situated where the sign now stands in front of the Sunday School. The cost of the church in 1842 was $3,581.24. If you were to convert that amount into today’s dollars, the Sanctuary would cost only $115,561. One may consider this a paltry amount in light of the size and scope of our sanctuary, however, be reminded it would have been a bare bones church without grandiose chandeliers, lacking decorative windows, void of an impressive steeple, no central heat and air conditioning, lacked electricity or plumbing and boasted wide planked wooden floors. One could assume the walls would have been barren white. The organ was transplanted from the stone church into their new sanctuary helping to reduce costs. It is likely many talented and experienced carpenters from the congregation tackled the molding and finish work within the church. As was written by a congregant years after construction: “We, who through the years, have worshiped in this building, continue to thank God for the foresight and well-conceived plans in its construction. It has withstood the onslaughts of the weather in excellent fashion and will continue to do so for many years. The size and design have met the needs of the congregation and its beauty grows through the years. We would go amiss not to note the vision and dedicated labors of the members and building committee as they erected the beautiful sanctuary in which we regularly worship today.”
During his tenure, the revered Pastor Schindel moved into the log parsonage situated on the Jordan property which now appeared old and tired next to the new and impressive Jordan Church. The congregation felt this house was far inadequate for an individual that had fueled a dramatic rebirth within the church. The old parsonage, built in 1770, was to be replaced and a home appropriate for the Pastor and his family was approved by Council. In 1849, at a cost of $1,142.64, construction began and the previous parsonage building, due in large part to its age, was sold for $70.00. It is recorded that Pastor Schindel and his family were quite pleased with their new and quite comfortable home. This parsonage has been well maintained over the years and proudly stands across the street from the church.
For decades, the Jordan stone church had operated a school for the local children offering general education classes during the week. Shortly after the new sanctuary was completed, the government had taken over the role of educator and would move these random schools out of the varied church buildings, the new government schools provided a diminished emphasis on religion much to the chagrin of the churches throughout the area. To offer the children an opportunity to continue with a religious foundation, the Sunday School concept gained popularity and thrived. Although vague records were kept during the birth of the Sunday School at Jordan, it is claimed 24 children attended these classes in 1862. Six years later, the church initiated the excavation of the basement under the north end of the church to make room for this thriving pre-service school. The excavation cost was $2,382. .Jordan had long maintained a reputation of being an academic and spiritual hub as our congregation considered education to be a critical aspect in the upbringing of any child at Jordan. When Muhlenberg College opened in 1848, Jordan demonstrated their commitment to a higher level of learning by providing significant funds to support this institution.
During this time period, the old cemetery needed to be increased in size or a new campus needed to be developed elsewhere. It was in December of 1855, the congregation approved a new cemetery would be located across the street near the parsonage. Noted in the cemetery records: “All members who become untrue to our confession or join other confessions or sects, forfeit their title and cannot thereafter bury on the cemetery.” And another rule dictated that members who never reserved a plot where they would be interred could only be buried at the northeastern corner of the cemetery.