Our History

Since its birth in 1876, Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church has been a vital part of the Tamaqua community, providing valuable services to our area’s spiritual and social needs. 

In 1876, following a split with the German speaking church, the Zion congregation moved to a structure on Dutch Hill that Lutherans had shared earlier with a Reform congregation. In 1901 the congregation purchased and renovated a building at the corner of Schuylkill Avenue and Mauch Chunk Street.

In 1916, plans began for the current structure at Greenwood and Mauch Chunk streets. Excavation began in 1925 under the watchful eyes of the Rev. Dr. George A. Gebert. Three years later, the new church was dedicated in the midst of the Great Depression. “This is his [Gebert’s] dream fulfilled,” said a speaker at the dedication.

Poor economic times and World War II hindered the completion of the building. The congregation worshiped in the social hall in the ground floor for the next 20 years.

In  1944, Rev. Charles Schlitzer came to Zion and work resumed on completing the upstairs area of the church. In 1948 the magnificent sanctuary was dedicated. By 1960, debt on the structure had been liquidated.

Throughout the years, heating systems have been replaced, new roofs installed, sound systems installed, a handicapped entrance and lifts added and interior renovations completed. Most recently, the social hall area where the congregation worshipped for 20 years has been equipped to host a relaxed, contemporary Saturday evening service.

Community, world ministries

Throughout the congregation’s history, its members have provided strong leadership in a wide variety of community and neighborhood organizations such as:

  • fire companies,
  • playground associations,
  • sports booster clubs,
  • civic and service clubs including the Lions, Elks, Rotary, Business and Profession Women and the Historical Society.
  • school board and library board.


     Additionally we have established community outreach activities as the need arose, such as:

  • the Meals on Wheels program in Tamaqua
  • the community’s first youth soccer program.
  • the Tamaqua Area Faith Fellowship Network,(TAFFN) a group of lay leaders from community congregations which sponsored the annual Community Advent Breakfast and the annual Hunger Walk.


In addition, a free New Year’s Day pork and sauerkraut dinner is well-attended by the community. Our Blessings Thrift Boutique  offers low-cost clothing and household items for sale and the People’s Pantry provides an emergency food source 24/7. An annual Trunk or Treat Safe Halloween event is held for all the children of the community.

Shepherding the community

In addition to Zion’s commitment to community service, the congregation continues to provide an open, welcoming environment to members and non-members alike. Baptisms, weddings and burials have been performed without regard to membership status.     Following our first Trunk or Treat Safe Halloween event, one Tamaqua resident said of Zion, “Oh, that’s the church moving the community forward.”


Take a quick tour of Zion’s facilities.