Along with the excitement that accompanied a thoroughly renovated church, Jordan’s congregation felt alive and rejuvenated. The Jordan Church had established itself as an essential element with these families and volunteering in various committees and organizations was infectious - in a positive manner. Many enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to serve the thriving Jordan community and were eager to solidify a relationship with their God and fellow parishioners. One historically significant campaign that gained momentum in November of 1955, was a unified and concerted effort to enlist the help of those that regularly attended Jordan and to reach out to those who had strayed from the church, encouraging them to return to experience and appreciate its rebirth. For five days, this aggressive and influential campaign gathered momentum with resounding success. An already vibrant church was further motivated by a surge of returning and new members. New committees were formed to cater to the various interests and needs of our growing congregation. ‘What can the church, as a family of Christian believers, give to those around us?’ became a passionate commitment of the members at Jordan. Our synod, witnessing this transformation, was pleased that Christ was indeed living within our midst.
It was during this growth oriented time that the important Sector Project was formed. For the first time in recorded history, Jordan took a thorough look at their past, what they were trying to achieve in the mid-20th century and how they would approach the future to ensure Jordan remained vibrant. The congregation appeared unified in ensuring Jordan remained a great example of a church community that welcomed their neighbors and fueled a healthy relationship with each other. Virtually every facet of the Jordan enterprise was carefully scrutinized and detailed reports were submitted for review. So many members were involved in the preparation of these reports that a majority felt they had some ownership in Jordan’s future. Trivial improvements included ushers wearing boutonnieres, the installation of a lighted bulletin board erected to the left of the church and the “Lutheran” magazine was provided to all members. On the mega scale, expansion of the Sunday School building was enthusiastically endorsed, benevolence was increased, expenses were scrutinized and formal budgets set. Under God’s loving guidance, Jordan thrived in an organized and methodical way. God’s work was indeed evident at the Jordan Lutheran Church.
In the 1960’s, Jordan enjoyed a Sunday School attendance of around 185 parishioners, from the very young to adult age. A nursery was established to cater to preschool children. Church services were attended by an average of 210 members. Services were complimented by the music being provided by fine Senior and Junior Choirs. It was not unusual for the youth to be involved in plays that were planned and performed by various youth groups of all ages. At some time during Advent, the Church School would present its program enhanced by elaborate scenery. Christmas services at Jordan were traditional, after which many members would travel to various homes offering the singing of Christmas carols. It is reported that two beautiful crèche scenes were brought from storage and proudly displayed, one placed on the front lawn and a larger one in the narthex. The Candlelight Service and New Year’s Eve Services were well attended by the Jordan Valley community. During the Lenten season, at the Sunday and mid-week services, penitential hymns and disciplined meditation was encouraged. Good Friday services were followed by the entire congregation traveling to a lighted cross on the hill. On Easter morning a similar procession returned to the Cross, the crowd now enthusiastically proclaiming Jesus’ victorious resurrection. The Easter service would resume following the trek back to the church, after which a bountiful breakfast was enjoyed. Other highlights outside of major Christian events included a Family Day in May, with mothers taking on a very active role, a Memorial Day program and a magnificent Harvest Home celebration with a bounty of fruits and vegetables displayed in a masterful array. You will be dazzled by photos of several of these historical harvest displays - nothing less than amazing. It should be added that all the harvested food was donated to the Good Shepherd Home. In the fall, a weekend was dedicated to the “Up-Lift Retreat” at Camp Horseshoe in Siegersville, where the church would enjoy a rousing two days of spiritual enlightenment. Soon thereafter, the youth of the church would plan and present the entire Youth Service, many children offering their time and talent.
As we view church life at Jordan in the 1950’s we find that Jordan’s Church Council was comprised of all men, likely the norm at that time, with one woman, Lydia Kuhns being appointed as the Parish Secretary. In 1959, Council members included: Willis Kuhns serving as President, Paul Grammes as Vice President, Philbert Fronheiser as Secretary of Council and Reuben Kuhns as Treasurer. One thriving organization within Jordan was the Sunday Church School. Originally founded in 1850, historically churches offered a level of general education before Sunday services and frequently offered similar classes during the week. The general education classes were always intermixed with religious teachings. It was not uncommon for churches to promote this format until the government provided public education methods and new facilities, after which the religious impact in education was diminished and became less significant. Many churches, Jordan included, were slow to embrace this new education approach and continued to offer the weekly and Sunday School classes until 1944, when it was disbanded. In 1949, Charles Heilman (President of Council) offered to reorganize the Sunday School. The idea was immediately embraced by the congregation at Jordan. It is recorded that by 1952, there were 245 members on the Sunday School roll, with an average attendance hovering around 185 parishioners of all ages. Plans were actively discussed about increasing classroom space to be built to the rear west end of the church, becoming reality in the 1960’s. Familiar family names and parishioners who eagerly participated in this Sunday School included: Kenneth Feinour, Walter Shoemaker, Harold Hirschel, Dorothy Gressley, Harry and Ruth Kemp, Lawrence Lightenwalner, Sterling Merkel, Bill Stein, Bob Wertman, Edith Kistler, Gilbert Furst, Mary Ann Meager, Bessie Sell, Alma Fronheiser, Pat White, Mary Jane Lutterschmidt, Beulah Feinour, Bernie Wertman, Fern Rock, Leona Knerr, Tevilla Knauss, Mae Kressley, Judith Merkel, Verna Knerr, Rita Ross, Caroline Stein, Harold Schellhammer, Ken Feinour, Jr., Martin Kuhns, Harold Lichtenwalner, Lillian Lichtenwalner, Raymond Baatz, Martin Kuhns, Tom Fronheiser, Stanley Roth, Tom Baatz, Ron Kistler, Wayne Lichtenwalner, Hilda Furst, Maurice Christman, Nevin Kistler, Hilda Furst, Maude Sechler, and Pastor Harding. (Whenever names are represented during a snapshot like this, others who contributed to the success of this Sunday School program in 1952 may have been inadvertently omitted. Please provide Monica with those names and they will be added.)
The Senior and Junior Choirs were officially organized by Mrs. Harding in 1955, however it should be noted that prior to the assembly of the two structured choirs, “fore-singers” made up of those having good leading voices, led the Jordan congregation through the liturgy and hymns since 1734. Under Mrs. Harding leadership, the Junior Choir was created to prepare the young choristers for their anticipated and rightful transition into the Senior Choir. Jointly, the Choirs presented impressive musicals, traveled to other churches to offer their musical talents and provided Jordan with special music throughout the service. Gilbert Furst acted as Choirmaster and Organist at this time. Having enthusiastic choirs, Jordan had gained a reputation as a congregation that eagerly shares their faith through music.
The Ladies Aid Society was founded at Jordan in June of 1927, having a membership of 17 women. This vibrant organization was a driven and determined force behind many of our church’s important improvements, the most impressive being the annex built onto the rear of the sanctuary at a cost of $19,219.10. Through their fundraising efforts, other improvements included an artesian well being built and everyday equipment and supplies for the sexton’s home and church facility. The Society paid for painting projects, shades for the windows in the sanctuary and annex, coal fuel, painting maintenance and an electric stove being added to the annex kitchen. It was not unusual for this group to donate sizable funds to local charities, provide supplies and services to the Topton Home, and fuel the efforts of the Red Cross and the United Lutheran Church. You will notice one of the windows within the narthex was presented by the Ladies Aid Society, a living tribute to this active women’s organization within Jordan. Other projects included preparing the parsonage off Route 309 prior to the pastor’s arrival by completely cleaning, upgrading and refinishing floors, painting walls and trim, installing new kitchen cabinets and contributing $1,000 to help reduce the debt against this property. In the fall, the Society would travel to the Topton Home where the group would quilt blankets for the guests and repair their clothes through a mending service project. In the spring, the Jordan women would return to the campus and prepare a massive meal for the Topton residents. In 1956, fifty-five faithful Jordan Lutheran women were members of this impactful, mission driven, vibrant group; many remain active members of Jordan today.
The Women’s Missionary Society labored to raise funds to support missionaries and organizations who were doing God’s work in national and foreign fields. This relatively new organization under the direction of Mrs. Dorace Harding, Maude Sechler, Tevilla Knauss, and Helen Litzenberger was diligent in dedicating their time and talent to developing an aggressive recruiting campaign. Twenty four parishioners were eager to serve and this society was indoctrinated into a chartered membership. It was through their intense dedication and successful fundraising campaigns they were able to provide vital medicine to British Guiana, educate the congregation about the issues confronting American Indians and collected Christmas gifts for the Children’s Bureau in Bethlehem. They invited recognized missionaries to visit Jordan and through their speakers’ persuasive testimonials were able to ignite a passion within the church to support their mission. Several who held positions of authority within the group included Edith Kistler, Evelyn Mensinger, Esther Schmidt and Ruth Kemp.
After years of dormancy, the J.Y.P. as it was known (Jordan Young Peoples group) was revitalized by Morris Knerr, Jr., Donald Laudenslager, Mary Laudenslager and Irene Schoemaker. The youth of Jordan were electrified at the opportunity to serve their church and community in various ways and developed impressive projects proving to the congregation that the youth were ‘one with their faith’. Some of the projects included building a Christmas Creche scene to be placed on the front lawn, the building of a lighted Lenten Cross that stood proudly on the hill in the Cemetery and a campaign that funded a visit from Westminster Choir, who presented an invigorating concert for the congregation and community. The year’s activities ended with a highly anticipated end of the fall “Up-Lift Retreat” at Camp Horseshoe. The youth were given many opportunities to enjoy a spirit-fueled life at Jordan through the J.Y.P.
Boy Scout Troop #60 began in 1956, and continues to have a presence at Jordan. Hundreds of Jordan boys and community children have had the opportunity to experience the positive Scouting influence through the wholesome programs made available to them at our church. Many completed the difficult journey to achieving the rank of Eagle Scout, a prestigious award held in high esteem. We are blessed to have a large number of leaders who dedicated their time and talent to ensure this program thrived at our church. Several early on notables include Bob Meager, Roy Hahn, Sonny Laudenslager, Nevin Kistler, Russel Brown, Ralph Smith, Phil Fronheiser and Ray Gackenbach. We also recognize the Scout Mothers Group who provided monies to support the Boy Scouts through successful fundraising campaigns.
No rural church community would be complete without a 4-H Club. The group was organized in 1957, under the direction of Ted DuBois and Richard Miklychak. Through this organization, children were exposed to many elements dealing with country living. Monthly meetings provided the children with an opportunity to discuss farm life, home affairs, promote positive health practices and encouraging wholesome daily behavior.
The Seekers assembled for the first time in 1958. Considered to be a long overdue organization within Jordan, participants endorsed prayer and meditation to be a vital part of their spiritual calling. Their prayers were channeled to others within our church that requested or needed God’s grace to help them through a challenging time. Much like the Prayer Chain which currently exists in our congregation, prayer and meditation remains a primary focus of this group, then and now.
The Reapers assembled monthly to promote evangelism within our church. Their members would travel into neighborhoods surrounding Jordan and shepherd members of Jordan and non-members sharing the Good News of God’s word. God’s Spirit accompanied each of these disciples with every visit. With dedication and optimism, they spread the Message much like a farmer planting seeds with the expectation of an abundant spiritual harvest. Harold Shellhammer was especially active in organizing and supporting the purpose and mission of the Reapers.
In review of the vital organizations and committees that thrived at Jordan in the 1950’s, it is obvious Jordan represented more than a sanctuary on Sundays. It was a hub of daily activity where neighbors, friends and members of our immediate Christian family would enjoy the fellowship of sharing their faith with each other and with the community. Regardless of age, all at Jordan could find spiritual gratification and an energetic refuge within one of the organizations or committees listed above. Our community was witness to God’s love, grace and presence through the plethora of activities that thrived at Jordan.