The history of Zion GELC starts on the first Advent in 1855, when twelve German immigrants together with Pastor Friedrich W.T. Steimle worshiped in a small stable on Washington Street. Though there have been Protestant congregations in the neighborhood, some of them even using the German language, they soon agreed that only in a Lutheran congregation one should preach and teach in accordance with Holy Writ and the Lutheran Confessions. To keep the doctrine pure, the congregation took an oath to never use any other language than German for its official business.
It did not take very long before new German immigrants joined the congregation, which celebrated its services by May, 1856 in a hall on Washington Street and called itself Zion.
In November, 1856 the congregation was officially registered and bought the church building on Henry Street for about $14,500. The building originally was built in 1839 as a Dutch Reformed church, but already by 1851 used as a dance hall. The congregation moved in on the first Advent in 1856. Except for some minor reconstructions it thus is also the oldest church in use in Brooklyn Heights.
About our Organ – A piece of History
The Organ was built by the New York firm of Müller & Abel in 1901 as Opus #56 at a cost of $8,000. It is the largest instrument they ever built and uses tubular pneumatic action. The console with its 3 manuals and flat pedal board controls the 2,437 speaking pipes, which are arranged in 45 ranks (38 independent stops). The decorated pipes that form the prospect all speak, unlike many organs of the period. The instrument has not been modified except for the replacement of the electric bellows motor with a blower. A set of chimes was added in 1923.
We celebrate weekly Communion Services, namely on Sundays in German at 9.30am, and in English at 11am. The German service follows a liturgy that traces back to the 19th Century. The English service follows the Lutheran Book of Worship.
In the last months we added liturgical pieces from the Evangelisch-Lutherischen Kirchenagende I by the SELK and from the Lutheran Song Book (LSB) of the LC–MS.
Visitors from Germany will recognize most parts of the liturgy from their own liturgies and thus should have no difficulties to join us.
A bulletin to follow the liturgy is available before the service. Hymnals and bibles are available in the pews.