Christ Lutheran Church - Gettysburg, PA
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member Math Teacher
N 39° 49.847 W 077° 13.954
18S E 308950 N 4411360
Quick Description: Christ Lutheran Church is the oldest structure in Gettysburg continuously used as a Church, founded in 1835. It was one of the first field hospitals used during the Battle of Gettysburg & is an important Civil War site.
Location: Pennsylvania, United States
Date Posted: 6/1/2011 7:38:44 PM
Waymark Code: WMBMA4
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Turtle3863
Views: 3

Long Description:

This storied church is one hundred seventy-six years old according to historical sites and the cornerstone located out front on the left side. It is on Chambersburg Street, better known as the Lincoln Highway. The church is magnificent with Greek influences given its four columns and pediment out front. There is a memorial to Chaplain Horatio Howell of the 90th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment, who was killed on the church steps on July 1, 1863. The memorial marks the spot where he was felled. The marker was erected in 1889 by the Survivors of the 90th Pennsylvania Infantry. On the marker, the pages of an open bronze book read:

"In Memoriam. Reverend Horatio S. Howell, Chaplain. 90th Penn'a Volunteers, was cruelly shot dead on these church steps on the afternoon of July 1st 1863. "He delivereth me from mine enemies. Yea Thou liftest me up above those that rise up against me." 18th Psalms 48th Verse. "He being dead yet speaketh." Hebrews 11, 4th.

Originally named “Christ’s Church,” Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church was one of three Lutheran institutions founded in Gettysburg by Samuel Simon Schmucker and colleagues. It was preceded by the Lutheran Theological Seminary, founded in 1826, and Pennsylvania College (Gettysburg College), founded in 1832. The church was expanded in 1875 and again in 1930. Today the church is part of a local attraction called the Historic Church Walking Tours, which provides visits to eight downtown Gettysburg churches featuring hospital scenes in those churches, stories about heroic civilian nurses, the wounded and dying, and the battle and its aftermath.

The church is also a contributing structure to the Gettysburg Battlefield Historic District. I found an oval NRHP historic marker on the outside brick wall of the church, which is on many of the buildings. There was also a 'Civil War Building' plaque as well. The NRHP plaque reads:

Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church
Historic District
National Register Of
Historic Places

The structure was one of the first hospitals established during the Battle of Gettysburg, and at its peak accommodated approximately 150 wounded soldiers. There is also an interpretive out front (part of a huge collection) which also tells the tale of the church's function as a hospital during the great battle. (the interpretive is on the right side of the church and is part of a huge collection which dots the Gettysburg landscape. The marker held in a strong metal frame and is horizontal.) The church touts itself as a war hospital and features a “Candlelight at Christ Church,” which is a very informative and an entertaining contribution to the community. The free, historical (not religious) program is offered on Saturday evenings. Visitors can sit in the building that was a Civil War hospital during the battle. They hear stories about what the soldiers and citizens experienced, and also songs from the period. The aforementioned interpretive out front is called ..the pathos of those poor wounded men... and reads:

Completed in 1836, Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church's building is the oldest in Gettysburg used continuously for religious worship.

During the battle of Gettysburg it became a haven for serving humanity. When the first wounded appeared along Chambersburg Street, the church's doors were thrown open to serve as a hospital. Within a few hours the chancel, pews and aisles were filled to capacity with stricken and suffering Union soldiers who remained under care under late July.

On the Sunday, July 7th, following the Confederate withdrawal, the church was able to conduct a brief service for parishioners and patients. Mary Horner long remembered, "...the pathos of those poor wounded men as they sang."

This was the last service until July 29th, after the wounded were removed to the consolidated army hospital, Camp Letterman, east of town.

Funding for this project assisted by NPS / American Battlefield Protection Program

The bell tower is one of the more attractive parts of the church, one which I noticed right away. The cupola on Christ Lutheran is a smaller version of the cupola on the Lutheran Theological Seminary building (another Lutheran mainstay). Like the latter cupola, the Christ Lutheran Cupola has eight sides, but this cupola was here in 1863 as opposed to the cupola on the Seminary building which burned in 1913. The Christ Lutheran Cupola houses a 600 pound bronze bell. The bell was cast in 1788 for a Spanish or Portugese convent, and has been in the Christ Lutheran Cupola since 1836.

From their website:

Sunday morning services are based on the liturgy found in the Evangelical Lutheran Worship book.

The informal Sunday evening Celtic Worship Service draws on the rich Celtic spiritual and musical tradition. Visiting musicians are invited to bring their instruments and join with the resident Celtic ensemble. A rehearsal of the evening's music is held at 5:00 PM in the sanctuary and worship with Holy Communion begins at 6:00 PM. Services are held on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of each month.

Each Sunday from Labor Day through Memorial Day we offer Christian Education classes for all ages at 9:15 AM and a Fellowship Hour each week following worship.

Related Website: [Web Link]

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