The Beginnings of the United Church of Christ, Greenawalds
In the beginning, our ancestors came to America to seek a new beginning and religious freedom. Some of them came to the Lehigh Valley area and settled the land. Aaron Greenawald and his wife Sarah, in 1882, moved to the area of South Whitehall Township when he purchased a tract of land consisting of three farms. Aaron and his son Charles farmed the land for 25 years. The Allentown to Slatington Trolley Line was constructed and began operation on November 4, 1900. The trolley line entered South Whitehall at the present intersection of 19th Street, Roth Avenue and Walbert Avenue. It went west on now Huckleberry Road to Kratzers Crossing, north on Whitehall Avenue to Focht Avenue. Behind the former Fire House, across Albright Avenue bearing west behind the former Lawfers Store, now the Serfass Construction Office, and then behind the church and out to Troxells and then north. All this took place before the village of Greenawalds came into existence and all of the property was still farm land.
In 1910, Aaron became interested in Real Estate and Building. He divided his entire tract of land into two farms, and an area which he developed into the village of Greenawalds. Some of the farm land was sectioned into lots along the trolley line. The building started with the home of Aaron and Sarah at 3 Albright Avenue. His former farm house was the home on the southwest corner of Whitehall and Pirma Avenue. Next were built the D.D. Trexler residence, Lawfer’s Store, and the Lodge Hall. The Lodge Hall was built in 1911 on the northwest corner of Whitehall and Focht Avenues. At a later time the third floor of the hall was to be used for worship services. Aaron built most of the earlier homes in the village and many streets were named in recognition of family members and friends.
The township erected a school building on the land of John Kratzer, near the present Kratzer Elementary School in 1861. Some of the bricks of the original school house were used to build a memorial wall on the new school property at the corner of Whitehall and Huckleberry. At some time, the date was not recorded, a group decided to start a non-denominational Sunday School to enable their children to attend on a regular basis and the original school is where they met. The first worship service recorded was on December 12, 1912 and was also held at the Kratzer School House. Also part of the history of 1912 is: The sinking of the Titanic, on May 12 the Girl Scouts of America was organized in Savannah, Georgia and were known as Girl Guides.
1912- The first recorded religious service held in Greenawalds was on December 22, 1912 on a Sunday evening at the Kratzer School House. The service was conducted by Rev. P.A.Bealer. At this time it was agreed to hold services once a month. Starting with June 1913, there were two services a month, thru 1914 and then in 1915 they went back to one service per month. On January 19, 1913, the service was conducted by Rev. I.B.Ritter. The following committee was appointed by the people to act as a committee for the time being to consider future plans for religious services: Rev. Bealer, Aaron M. Greenawald, Charles Sittler, Solomon Fries, and Charles Albright. Rev. Bealer as president, Charles Sittler as Vice-president, and Aaron Greenawald as secretary-treasurer. It was decided to pay the pastor two dollars for the monthly services. This congregation was made up of the Reformed and Lutheran denominations. On April 20, 1913, the committee was reorganized with Rev. Bealer as president, Aaron Greenawald and Solomon Fries from the Reformed denomination and Clinton J. Reichard and Alfred Ludwig from the Lutheran denomination. Joseph Guth and Mrs. Dille Fenstermacher were elected as Organists. Oliver Buchman was elected as Deacon and Ralph Kuhns as Janitor. A six month monthly service was promised by Rev. Cooper.
On July 28, 1914 World War I began.
1917- Aaron and Sarah Greenawald donated a plot of land for the first church building in Greenawalds at the corner of Albright Avenue and Orchard Avenue. He also helped in it’s construction. He was a Charter Member of the Church and served continuously on the consistory from 1912 thru 1948. He also served the Sunday School as superintendent and teacher of the Adult Bible Class. Aaron served as Justice of the Peace for 56 years. He also served as Treasurer of the Lehigh County Agricultural Society from the time of it’s organization in 1916. He was the Treasurer of the South Whitehall Beneficial Society from many years. Aaron was born at Stine’s Corner in 1861, married Sarah F. Werley of New Smithsville in 1881. They were parents of seven children. Aaron died February 1950 and Sarah died in 1944.
Originally it was not definite what denomination the proposed Church would be so an agreement was made that all money collected to erect the building would be returned to anyone of another denomination other than the one decided upon for the new Church. On October 3rd, a motion was made to elect a president and secretary to serve until a constitution and by-laws were adopted. Elias S. Creitz was elected president and Aaron M. Greenawald as secretary. The president appointed a committee of three to draw up a constitution and by-laws; A.M. Greenawald, Alfred W. Lawfer and Charles F. Peters. It was decided to organize as a Reformed Church and to have services in the Hall of the South Whitehall Beneficial Association at Greenawalds, until permanent quarters were provided. It was decided that the treasurer of Greenawalds Union Sunday School pay over to the treasurer of the Church all monies collected and all pledges made for the erection of a Union Chapel, and these monies to be used for the erection of a Reformed Chapel or Church. At this time it was decided to wait until spring of 1918 to build the proposed new Church or Chapel. It was also decided to try to have Church Services every two weeks and to pay the minister two dollars per service. All the worship services were held on the third floor of the Beneficial Society Hall. Charles Clauss remembered that the women of the congregation were instrumental in hastening the construction of the new Chapel due to the fact of climbing the stairs to the third floor was quite a task and doubly so when they were carrying the supplies for successful chicken supper.
1918- On January 11, the first Constitution and By-laws were adopted. The following Board of Trustees were elected; Aaron M. Greenawald, Charles A. Clauss, Elias S. Creitz, William Batz, and Edwin Greenawald. At the meeting of January 17, officers were elected as follows; President- Aaron Greenawald, Secretary- Charles Clauss, and Treasurer- Edwin Greenawald. A motion was made to inspect churches of suitable size appropriate for our own building needs. Elias Creitz and Aaron Greenawald were appointed to make an estimate of building costs on a proposed building of 40′ by 40′. A public meeting was held at the lodge hall on February 14 and at that time a motion was made and carried by a rising vote of eight (8) to one (1) that building operations should be started on the proposed plan costing approximately $4500. Aaron Greenawald stated that theatre chairs could be purchased from the Hippodrome Theatre for $1.00 each.
At a meeting on February 18, a motion was made to build the Church 20 feet from the street. Elias Creitz was to do the carpenter work of the Church at an hourly rate with no profit. Aaron Greenawald was to order approximately 32,000 bricks. On February 25, a motion was carried to incorporate, the signers being: Elias Creitz, William Batz, Edwin Greenawald, Charles Clauss, Mrs. Mary Weiss and Mrs. Sarah Greenawald. On July 1, an order was placed for a pipeless coal burning heater at a cost of $225 and the building was ready for plastering. On October 13, the dedication services for the new Chapel were held at afternoon and evening services. The costs of the building were as follows:
Building and grading: $4,696.99
Miscellaneous: $133.36 for a total of $5,950.77
Donations were given by: Boys Bible Class, Church Choirs, Christian Endeavor, Greenawalds Union Sunday School, Girls Jr. Class, Primary S.S. Class, Sewing Circle. The Pulpit stand costing $52.80 by the Sewing Circle.
The mortgage of $3,500 was held by Aaron Greenawald at 5% and satisfied by June 12, 1935. A Certificate of Incorporation of Christ Reformed Church of Greenawalds, Pennsylvania was approved on November 8 by the County of Lehigh and witnessed by: Aaron M. Greenawald, Elias S. Creitz, Edwin H. Greenawald, Charles A. Clauss, William B. Batz, Frank H. Schmoyer, Frank Weiss, and Charles P. Greenawald.
We believe in God, the Eternal Spirit, who is made known to us in Jesus our brother, and to whose deeds we testify.