December 18, 2012, marked the 125th anniversary of the founding of Christ Lutheran Church. The first service was held in Triumph Hall, at 1240 Light Street, about five blocks from our current location.
A young pastor named Leander M. Zimmerman, who had only been ordained a few months, had been called by the Board of Home Missions to establish a new congregation in South Baltimore. There were already three Lutheran churches in the area, but they were all German speaking.
From the start, Christ Church was set apart in at least two ways: it was to be an English speaking Lutheran church, amidst several German-speaking ones, and all seats would be free and welcoming to all. On a cold, snowy day in December of 1887, 150 people were present at the morning service and 115 in the evening.
Pastor Zimmerman made more than 600 neighborhood calls over the next two months, resulting in the formal organization of the church in February, 1888. Soon the congregation began to look for a permanent home and arranged to purchase one of the oldest church buildings in the city, a Methodist Episcopal church at 9 E. Hill Street, between Light and Charles Streets. The previous congregation sold the building because, in their words, “There is no future here.”
But the members of Christ Church saw a great future at the location. Just one year after its founding, the congregation became self-supporting. During the early years, several customs and organizations started, many of which continue even to today, including regular visiting of the sick and shut-in, the Ladies Aid Society, a Christian kindergarten, bowling league, church picnic, youth groups, and Wednesday prayer meetings. Christ Church had the first public address system in the city and was the first church in Baltimore to install a telephone.
Ronald S. Thomas, Ph.D.