Evangelical Lutheran Church Frederick

Source: Church Pamphlet obtained during tour on July 11, 2015

Church Website: www.twinspires.org

This historical church celebrated their 275th Anniversary in November 2013. The congregation has done an exceptional job, under the direction of Ms. Marcia Hahn (contact email: hahnm1120@comcast.net) of preserving, categorizing and promoting this historical treasure.

The church itself was organized as the Lutheran Church on the Monocacy on November 26, 1738, by the Rev. John Caspar Stoever, Jr. During the early days of the church, congregants met at varying locations until the first home in Frederick, a log church was built in 1746. The log church was razed, and on that property today is the Rupp Hospitality House. A new limestone church was built, construction beginning in 1752. During construction the French-Indian War erupted and men left the construction of the church to fight in the war. This lasted seven years, but in 1762, the community gathered for the dedication of the new church. At this time, the church had a single tower. The remains of this church may be seen on the grounds today. It is also interesting to note that the second President of the US, President John Adams spoke and worshiped in this church on May 28, 1800.

The first organ was purchased in 1771.

Two bells were purchased from London, one still in use. The Sunday School’s birth was in 1812 and it is believed to be one of the oldest in the US.

A new church was authorized in October of 1853. The new construction would have twin towers. Construction began in 1854, the cornerstone being laid that year. Construction was completed in 1855 and the dedication of ‘the temple with twin towers’ was in December of that year. The twin towers rise to a height of 150 feet. It is an architectural style known as Norman Gothic. (Note: For detailed and historical information on the architecture, click here.

The church was impacted deeply by the Civil War. Lee’s army marched into Frederick on September 6, 1862 and the next day the church filled with Confederate soldiers at the services. At that time, most of the church sympathies were with the North and the presence of the Confederate soldiers frightened and alarmed the congregants. It was later that month, however, after what has been documented as the bloodiest battle of the Civil War, Antietam, that the church became personally involved. This happened when the Union Army seized the church to be used as a hospital. If visiting the church there are photos of the church during this period in the back. They are also shown during the month tours of the church. One photo that is very striking is the church pews (which are originals) were covered with plank boards, while the balcony of the church had armed guards to make certain no one escaped, since both Confederate and Union soldiers were cared for here. (see page 82 and 83 of Historical Anniversary program, here)

The current organ, the fourth in the history of the church, was purchased in 1950. It was purchased from the M.P. Möller Inc., Pipe Organ Company of Hagerstown. It was completely rebuilt and dedicated on January 8, 1982. It has 2,824 pipes and 53 ranks. It is the largest pipe organ in Frederick County.The stained glass windows are beautiful. Initially the church was built with all of the windows made of enameled glass. The windows, with the exception of the two in the Narthex, were eventually changed to the current beautiful stained glass as families wished to memorialize a loved one.

The sanctuary was most recently renovated in 2000. It is beautiful with gentle easy on the eyes colors..beige, goldleaf and true earth tones. It was during this renovation that liturgical symbols were painted on the ceiling of the church. It is here you can establish the German roots of the church. During the tour, I was told it was Pastor Schaeffer, after only a few years as Pastor expressed that he felt the services should be done in English. English services in addition to the German services were introduced in 1810. Services were all in English beginning in 1816.

The church has grown significantly since then, even establishing a satellite campus in Urbana. This was accomplished in November 2002. It was established in 2010 as Living Grace Lutheran Church. They also serve as a host site for a mission called Global Peace Lutheran Church which is a mission for Asian Indian congregants.

The church expanded several times. The Schaeffer Center, which was named after an early pastor, was built in 1891 as a Sunday School building. It is interesting to note that the school was initially built with an auditorium and slanting floor plan. It was when this building was updated and renovated that many of the headstones found on the grounds were excavated. Initially there was a burial ground on the premises but during excavation, remains that were found were moved several blocks away to the public cemetery. The stones found on the grounds were those found with no remains.

The Hahn building was constructed in the 1820s and was acquired by the church in 1958. The building is currently used as the Church offices. Also, at that same location is the Traver Youth Center which is a renovated carriage house used by the youth ministry program.

The Rupp House was originally used as a parsonage and was the building that replaced the initial log church. Here the church holds social events and adult education classes.

The rear of the building or Trunk Hall (named after a previous Pastor) is on the site of the old limestone church (some of it still visible from the outside). This hall is used for their fellowship hall, while the second floor is home to the Music Ministry.

One of the most pleasant parts of our visit, besides the wonderful congregants who led us on a most informative and complete tour, was the church garden. The garden, open even when the church isn’t, offers a respite to weary tourists and a break to those working in the area that may just want to sit and meditate during their workday. It is so attractively maintained and includes a memorial garden that it is hard to imagine one not being able to find a ‘moment’s peace’. It is also in this garden and that nearing the far end of the grounds that you will find the memorial stones of many buried on the grounds during its infancy, most of those being German. Click here for additional information on their beautiful garden.The church provides tours the first Saturday of each month, from April -October...well worth it if you are in the area. If you have a group that would like to tour the church, they are more than accommodating, contact the office below or email Ms. Hahn directly. Keep tabs on special events being held at the church through their website. We will also be including many of their events on our 'calendar of events'.

History of the Graveyard and Cemetery of Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELC) in Frederick

It is important to understand that this was the first Lutheran Church in Maryland and as such it often held the records of deaths and burials, but not all were within the church graveyard or cemetery. Often the burial was recorded in the church parish record book however, the remains were located in family cemeteries throughout Frederick County.

The first Lutheran Graveyard affiliated with ELC was located at the rear of the current church where the kitchen, church garden, and Schaeffer Center are now located. This was the graveyard. When the original limestone church (now Trunk Hall) was expanded in 1825, they relocated the graves. Initially graves were relocated to a newer Lutheran cemetery about ½-mile to the east. By 1833, no new graves were opened in this graveyard by the church except for the widows and widowers of those already interred.

The second Lutheran Cemetery was begun in 1823. On July 12, 1823, the vestry of this congregation purchased a piece of ground for a cemetery from Mr. Worthington Johnson. Cost was $500 cash. It was located about ½ mile from the church at the east end of Church Street just beyond where Church and East Street intersect—where a portion of Everedy Square now sits. In 1823, this was out of the taxable limits of the corporation. It contained about 2 3/4 acres. Lots of 12 feet square were sold at $12/family. Later, all the graves from the new cemetery at the end of Church Street were relocated to Mt. Olivet Cemetery, a community cemetery established in 1852. The “Lutheran Church Plot” in Mt. Olivet Cemetery was designated in Area N-N, lots 124 - 129. A record book of those graves relocated from this cemetery exists in the church office; the records include reference to any other location within the cemetery a particular grave was reinterred when not in the Lutheran Church Plot.

When the Sunday School building was constructed in 1890, additional graves were relocated from the graveyard; however, this time they were relocated directly to Mt. Olivet Cemetery. A record of these graves has not been located.

For all graves in the original Lutheran graveyard, oral history tells us if remains were found, the remains were relocated along with the tombstones. If no remains were found, then the tombstones were left on the ELC campus. About 40 tombstones remain as part of the church garden today and are located either along the garden wall or the west wall of the Schaeffer Center. A few are not publically accessible since they are currently stored in the basement of the Schaeffer Center.

In September 1851 the wall of stone and brick (the one that runs along the west side of the property to Second Street behind Trunk Hall) was built around what was then considered the old graveyard. The masons were George M. and Hiram Nusz.

Tombstones found on the grounds of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Frederick.

It is important to note that there are three locations where the stones are found 1) along the west side of the Schaeffer Center; 2) behind Trunk Hall along the garden wall bordering the West edge of the property; and 3) in the Schaeffer Center basement. Those found in the basement haven’t been transcribed and documented.If any ELC parish records have been located for an individual, those are also referenced, courtesy of the staff at the church. This could include the baptismal record as well as a death record. However, many of the death records for these individuals are not found in the parish record books since some pastors did not record burials as consistently as marriages and baptisms.

There were also several stones that were unreadable and are not included on the list. It is my understanding that the church has photos of all stones…those legible and those that are not. Also note that the transcriptions are copied exactly as found on the stone. It was not uncommon for the stone cutter to just move down a line when room was tight, so single names could be on two lines.

Click here for the Grave Stones that remain at Evangelical Lutheran Church in Frederick!

Church Location:

31 East Church Street

Frederick, Maryland 21701

Telephone: 301-663-6361