A Time-line of St. Matthew

1640s In the settlements in the Dutch colony of New Netherlands are Catholics, English Puritans and Lutherans, as cited by Father Isaac Jogues

      The “Congregation of the Unaltered Augsburg  Confession of Faith” is formed.

1648: Congregation sends a delegation to the Consistory of the Lutheran Church at Amsterdam, Netherlands, the Mother Church, to request a pastor. (see correspondence)

July 1657: Pastor Ernestus Gutwasser arrives in Manhattan. Is prevented from performing Pastoral duties by Dutch authorities in the colony and later jailed and deported in 1659 (June 19) back to Holland.

1660 – 1662: Swedish Lutheran pastors from Delaware,  Lars Lock and Abelius Zetskoorn, serve congregation, due to absence of Dutch pastors from Holland.

Sept 8, 1664: British takes control of the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam and renames it New York.  Sept 24: the entire Dutch colony of New Netherland is surrendered to the British

Dec 6, 1664:”Congregation of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession of Faith” receives Charter from first British Governor, Richard Nicolls.

Feb 1669: Pastor Jacobus Fabritius arrives in New York  and obtains permission from Governor Lovelace to become the  pastor of the Lutherans in New York and Albany. Lutheran churches along the Hudson form a single parish and are  served by the pastors of the New York Church.

Feb 21, 1669: First worship (service of the Word) is conducted by Pastor Fabritius

March 14, 1669: First Communion Service is held. Forty-five persons were in attendance.

April 4, 1669: Palm Sunday (Dominica Palmarum),  Emmanuel, a 50 year old man of African ancestry was baptized.

1671: Bernhardus Arensius is installed by Fabritius as  pastor of congregation. Pastor Fabritius leaves for Delaware  after having difficulty with the congregation. Pastor Arensius  d. 1691.

First church building is erected on Broadway, outside the city  wall, where ,it is believed by some historians,  Trinity Episcopal church now stands

July 1673: Dutch recaptures New York; colony is renamed New Orange. The church building is demolished.  In 1674 the colony returns to British rule and is once again given the name New York

May 22, 1674: Deed is given for land South of Rector Street and Broadway. New building is erected and serves  congregation for more that 50 years.

1701: Rudman, Swedish pastor, at the end of his ministry in Pennsylvania and Delaware, is called to serve the Dutch churches in Manhattan and Albany.  He works on  Justus Falckner, who was a student of theology under A. H. Francke at the University of Halle in 1693,  into responding to the call of God in entering  into the Holy Ministry.

Nov 24, 1703: Justus Falckner is ordained by Rudman in Gloria Dei (Old Swedes’) Church, Philadelphia. (first Lutheran minister  ordained in America)

Dec 2, 1703: Falckner is called to serve congregation in  New York. d. 1723 (51 yrs).  His ministry included serving the Lutheran congregation in Albany and also planted several along the Hudson and in New Jersey.  His ecclesiastical records are the oldest in our church archives.

Sept 22, 1725: Wilhelm Christoph Berkenmeyer of  Hamburg, Germany arrives in New York to serve congregation.  Ordained on May 24, 1725

 Trinity Church

June 29, 1729: New sanctuary (stone edifice), named Trinity Church,  is dedicated, replacing the old “cattle shed” of a building at Rector St and Broadway.  This building, Trinity Church, is later destroyed in the Great New York Fire in 1776 during the Revolutionary War.

1732: Berkenmeyer’s tenure ends when he suggested a division in the New York parish

Dec 9, 1732: Michael Christian Knoll (b. 1696) serves as new pastor.

1750: Domine Knoll resigns as pastor from the “ancient Lutheran Church” due to internal wrangling and the issue of use of language (Dutch vs. German)

1750: Henry Melchior Muhlenburg, “patriarch” of Lutheranism in America is called to serve the “Old Church.”  He arrived in Pennsylvania from Germany in 1742 and six years later formed the first Lutheran Synod in America– The Ministerium of Pennsylvania.

1750: Pastor Johann Albert Weygand is ordained by, and served under Muhlenburg (temporary charge). 

1752: Church school is started by Pastor Weygand      

May 22, 1753: Congregation calls Johann Albert Weygand to be pastor. d. 1770

Christ Church

1750: Dissatisfied German members withdraw from congregation on the issue of language and purchased a brewery on Cliff Street, which served as their place of worship until 1767.  Pastor Johann Friedrich Reis is called to serve the “new” congregation.

1752-1756: Philipp Henrich Rapp is called to be pastor of  Christ Church

1756- 1757: Johann George Wiessner is called to be  pastor of Christ Church

1759-1761: Pastor Johann Martin Schaeffer is called to  Christ Church

1763-1767: Pastor Johann Georg Bager is called to Christ Church. Started building project for a new sanctuary at Frankfort and William Streets. Resigns before its completion.

1767-1773: Magister Johann Siegfried Gerock serves  congregation. Previously tried to bring about reconciliation.

May 1, 1767: New worship building, called Christ Church is erected and dedicated at Frankfort & William Streets.    Was later popularly known as “The Old Swamp Church.”    Sold in 1831

1762: Attempts to heal rift between “old” Trinity Church and “new” Christ Church are unsuccessful

Dec 1773: Frederick Augustus Conrad Muhlenburg, son of the “patriarch” is called to serve Christ Church. Leaves pastorate for his safety because he sided with the colonies during the revolution. Flees to PA. He was elected the first Speaker of the US Congress in 1789, and again served as the third Speaker in 1793.

Trinity Church cont’d

1770: Pastor Bernard Michael Houseal is called to Trinity. Serves as a trustee at Columbia University. Leaves congregation on Nov 23, 1783 with British troops after the revolution since he sided with the British.

1771: During Pastor Houseal’s pastorate last services  in Dutch are held at the  Trinity Church.  Worship was conducted in German and in English

1776: Trinity Church and parsonage on Rector St and Broadway are destroyed in the great fire during the Revolutionary War.   Valuable church records are saved. Congregation gathers for worship in Scotch Presbyterian Church on Cedar Street.

Congregations Reunited 

Jan 7, 1784: Congregations of Trinity and Christ reunite under Dr. John Christopher Kunze (ordained 1770), of PA Synod,  (son-in-law of H.M. Muhlenberg) under the corporate name of  “The United German Lutheran Churches in New York City.”

Aug 1, 1784: Pastor Kunze is called to be pastor of the  “united” congregation. Occupies the Chair of Oriental Languages at Columbia University (1784-87, 1792-99) and serves as a trustee. In  1785, is appointed an official interpreter for the Congress, which was meeting in NY

Oct. 1786: Pastor Kunze is the first president of the New York Ministerium at its founding after an earlier attempt in 1775 by Frederick Muhlenberg was sidelined, probably because of the war.   Trinity Church is never rebuilt and services are  held in Christ Church

English Church

1795: George Strebeck, a student of Kunze’s, assists with the forming of an English congregation in meeting the needs of the overwhelming majority of English speakers in the congregation.

Pastor Kunze, publishes “A Hymn and Prayer Book” in English for use in Lutheran Churches “as use the  English language” –  the first Lutheran Hymnal compiled in America. Two years later Strebeck, also issued an English Hymn  and Prayer Book.

June 25th, 1797: The English Lutheran Church in the City of New York is organized. (This  is the corporate name, although it was subsequently known as  Zion Church.) Strebeck, instrumental in its founding; is called to be pastor. Land is rented on Pearl Street, opposite City Hall Place, and a frame church is built.  Four years later, a larger stone church is  built at corner of Mott and Park Street.  The English Church, however, is not recognized by Lutheran consistory in Rhinebeck.

1802: Parsonage and school house are added.

1804: Strebeck leaves with some members of Zion to form St. Stephens’s Episcopal Church

1805: Ralph Williston (former Methodist minister) is called as pastor of Zion Church. In  1810 he becomes an Episcopalian and soon after the entire congregation followed him.  The congregation dissolves on Tuesday, March 13, as per the mother church’s resolution, that Zion Church become a parish of the  Episcopal Church, which now exists under the name of Zion and St. Timothy, in West 57th Street.

July 24, 1807: Pastor Kunze dies at age 63

1808 – 1814: The united congregation calls Dr. Friedrich Wilhelm Geissenhainer from PA.  He resigns from pastorate in 1814 and returns to PA

1814: Pastor Frederick Christian Schaeffer is called to  congregation at age 22.  He is the first minister of American  birth to serve the Church. An excellent orator, he preached to  a crowd of 5000 on the occasion of the 300th   anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation on Oct 31, 1817.

Dec 22, 1822: After more that 20 years of striving for a  separate English church, a new building is erected and dedicated on Walker Street, east end of Broadway, and is named Saint Matthew’s Church 

Dr. Friedrich Wilhelm Geissenhainer, on Schaeffer’s   recommendation, is recalled from PA to work in the German  congregation of Christ Church at Frankfort Street

Nov 10, 1826: St. Matthew’s Church at Walker  Street is sold for $22,750.00 after the German congregation  refuses to help with the debt reduction of the church.   Building is soon resold at the same price to the corporation of the United Lutheran Churches (Christ and old Trinity).

1827: Pastor Schaeffer resigns and founds the Evangelical Lutheran Church of St. James on February 20, 1827.    At the time of his death, Mar 26, 1831, he was president of the New York Ministerium.

Congregation has two churches – St Matthew (English)  and Christ Church (German)

Dr. Friedrich Wilhelm Geissenhainer’s son, Frederick  William Jr. is called to preach in English at St Matthew’s,  Walker Street, while Friedrich Wilhelm Geissenhainer Sr.  continues serving the German congregation at Christ Church, Frankfort St, until 1831, the year he died.

1831: Christ Church Frankfort St building is sold (1831) due to the   size of the growing congregation. Both groups, Christ Church and St Matthew’s, hold services at the more spacious St. Matthew’s Church, Walker  Street.  Later the mother Church acquires the name of the English congregation and is thereafter known as St.  Matthew’s Church.

1838 – 1868: Parish is served by Rev. Carl F.E Stohlmann, who was called from Erie, PA on Dec, 1838.

May 1840: English services are no longer held due to German  immigration and the huge turn- out for the German services. A lawsuit against the mother church by the English speaking  members is decided in favor of the Church.

Aug 1841: Pastor Geissenhainer, Jr. resigns and forms  St. Paul’s German Evangelical Lutheran Church, now located on West 22nd Street, NYC.

Assistant  pastors during that time include:
– Ludwig Mueller  prior to 1846
– A.H.M. Held,  1846-1855
– E.J. Schlueter, 1855
– F.W. Steimle, 1855
– J.A. Zapff,  1856-1860
– Christian Hennicke, 1861-1865
– J.H. Baden, 1865-1868

There is a branch Sunday School at Stanton and Essex Streets during the 1840s.

1847: St Mark Lutheran Church, a branch church, is started on 6th Street, subsidized by Trinity, the Old Church. Pastor Held is  in charge of St. Mark’s until 1855

In 1852 the United Lutheran Churches of New York celebrate their 100th Anniversary.  A celebration medallion is produced to mark this occasion

1866: Corporate name of church is changed to “The German Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saint Matthew in the City of New York.” In 1910, the words, “The German” are dropped.

May 3 1868: “The German Evangelical Lutheran Church  of Saint Matthew in the City of New York”  acquires and  dedicates the First Baptist Church on Broome and Elizabeth Streets after selling the Walker Street building.

Pastor Stohlmann is called to glory on the very day of the dedication of the  building after serving congregation for 30 years.

1868 – 1869: Pastor Baden serves the parish

May 1869: Pastor Georg Vorberg  is called from Rochester, NY.  During his  pastorate – the parsonage on St Elizabeth Street is built – a system of   contribution for missions and charities is instituted – Christian Young Men’s Society is organized – The school is expanded into an academy with Rev. E.F. Giese as director

April 2, 1873: Pastor Vorberg dies

July 21, 1873: Pastor Justus Ruperti of Gestendorf, Germany is called

1874-1894: Rev. Edmund Bohm serves as director of  school. There are 300 students.  He also serves as  Director of Concordia Collegiate Institute from 1881-1895

1874: A kindergarten is added. Sunday School numbers  more than 1000. The branch Sunday school at Varick and Canal  Streets numbers 90

Feb 1876: Pastor Ruperti resigns because of ill health     

May 21, 1876: Pastor Johann Heinrich Sieker is installed as pastor of St Matthew. Serves for 28 years until his death in 1904.

1879: School building is erected on Elizabeth Street

1881: Concordia Collegiate Institute of the Missouri Synod is started by Pastor Seiker at the Broome Street school building. St Matthew provides finances to cover most of the expenses of the operation. In 1893 the Institute moves to Hawthorne, NY. 

1885: St Matthew, being the most conservative of Lutheran churches in the east, leaves the New York Ministerium and joins the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio,  and other States, now the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS).

St. Matthew contributed significantly to the growth of Lutheranism in New York, New  Jersey, New England, and on Long Island.  Among the more than 13 churches that  benefited from St. Matthew’s (the mother church) generosity include:

  • Redeemer, West 44th St – an offshoot congregation
  • Saint Stephen’s, Union Avenue, Bronx
  • Bethlehem, East 62
  • Holy Trinity
  • St. James Church
  • St. Luke on 46th Street

Assistant  Pastors during Pastor Sieker’s pastorate:
– W.A. Fisher
– Otto Hanser
– H. Feth
– August Brunn
– Edward Fischer
– Otto Sieker

1904: Pastor Johann Heinrich Sieker is succeeded by  his son, Otto Sieker, who, since 1894 previously served as his assistant.

1906: Congregation purchases building at 145th St &  Convent Ave to serve as a branch of St Matthew. Professor Martin Walker is given charge of the “uptown” church. English  is again used in worship, in addition to German.

1909: Church House is added – includes a chapel for Sunday School, six classrooms for church school and various  meeting rooms.

1910: Pastor Walker accepts a call to Buffalo.  Pastor Otto Ungemach is called to serve the uptown church

1913: Broome Street building is sold.  Congregation  moves to 145th St.  Chapel is maintained at Broome Street for convenience of members in lower Manhattan

1914: Pastor Ungemach accepts call to PA.   Pastoral assistance is provided from Concordia College, Bronxville.

1918: Pastor Adolph Wismar succeeds Otto Sieker; serves St Matthew until the merger with Messiah Lutheran Church in 1945

Sept 1931: German services are discontinued

Dec 25 1931: Congregation celebrates 25 years of ministry in Washington Heights.    St. Matthew ‘s is the only Lutheran Christian Day School in Manhattan

Jan 24, 1942: Fire damages the church at 145thStreet.

May 17, 1942: Church is rededicated after renovation.

Mar 15, 1942: Pastor Henry Kroll-Hemkey is installed at the assistant pastor and serves without  compensation.

1943: St. Matthew decides to move to a new neighborhood.   Atlantic District begins a Black Lutheran mission at the Convent Avenue location

Spring 1944: Merger talks with Messiah are held.

Oct 22, 1944: Formal opening of St. Matthew’s at the former Presbyterian church building at Park Ave & 85th  Street, after merger with Messiah seems impossible.

Jan 14, 1945: Rents Norwegian Lutheran Church, Wadsworth Ave & 178th St.

March 1945: Rents Chapel of Fort George Presbyterian  Church, St Nicholas Ave & 186th St

Sept 30, 1945: Farewell sermon by Pastor Adolph Wismar.   Accepts a teaching position at Valparaiso University, IN.

Oct 1, 1945: St. Matthew merger with Messiah, 202 Sherman  Ave, New York City.

Oct 7, 1945: Pastor Alfred Trinklein is installed as  pastor of St. Matthew, succeeding Pastor Adolph Wismar 

Feb 20, 1946: Purchase two-storey building at 200  Sherman Ave for $63,000.00

 Oct 17, 1948: Rev Oswald Hoffman is installed as assistant  pastor at St Matthew

1948: John S. Damm, Seminary student at Concordia, St  Louis serves as acting principal of school.

 Jan 1949: Robert Schnabel is called to be principal of school. Leaves in 1952, accepting a call from the Central District

 Nov 1956: Thanksgiving Day – Laying of cornerstone of  new sanctuary at 202 Sherman Avenue, NYC

 June 16, 1957: Dedication of new sanctuary. 1080 members and friends in attendance.  Schlicker Baroque Organ of 10 ranks is installed at dedication at a cost of 10,000.00 – a gift from Mr. & Mrs. Chester Eldelmann, in memory of her mother.

1964: St. Matthew celebrates her 300th anniversary of the Charter, dated Dec, 6, 1664.

July 23, 1967: Pastor Trinklein’s retires from pastorate after 22 years at St Matthew.

July 30, 1967: Pastor Paul Schulze is installed as Pastor  of St. Matthew. Serves congregation for 23 years, until his retirement  in 1990

Feb 1991: Pastor James McDaniels is installed.  Serves until August 1993

April 1995: Pastor Steven Massey is installed.

1997: Parish becomes vacant  and is served for a brief period by Chaplain Kelly-Ray Merrit

Nov 1998: Vacancy continues.  Parish is served by ministerial student, Peter Deebrah, under the supervision of Pastor James Gajadhar.

Dec 3, 2005: Rev. Peter Deebrah is ordained and installed as Pastor

July 2006: Congregation moves from Sherman Avenue location to The Cornerstone Center on Bennett Avenue, having had to divest property.

2014: Congregation celebrates her 350th anniversary of her Charter of freedom.  See celebration events

See Wikipedia description
For a Timeline of the History of Messiah  Mission Church, click HERE           Back to Homepage
Pastors who served St. Matthew
Researched by the Rev. Peter Deebrah