A History of Redeemer

+ 1925 - Christ Lutheran Church purchased a plot of ground at 802 N. 19th Street as a site for a mission congregation on July l8th. The sum of $9,250.00 was expended by Christ Church to purchase the lot and implement the vision of growth west of 17th Street. On November 22nd, an organization was formed to apply for a charter of incorporation. A name was chosen for the congregation and the model constitution of the United Lutheran Church in America was adopted.

+ 1926 - A congregational charter was granted to this new congregation on April 26th, signed by sixteen members. The deed to the building lots was conveyed by Christ Lutheran Church as a gift to the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer on May 4th. Membership had grown to 24 who signed the charter. The first worship service was held on May 16th in the Chapel of Muhlenberg College with the sermon preached by Mr. Gomer S. Rees, a senior at The Lutheran Theological Seminary of Philadelphia. The people issued a pastoral call to him, and Mr. Gomer S. Rees became Redeemer's first pastor on June lst Worship Services continues in the Muhlenberg Chapel while the people awaited the construction of a mission building. On June 7th, the congregation broke ground for the new church; the cornerstone of this building was laid on July 11th, and dedicated on October 10th. The cost of the church with all furnishings was $16,219.00.

+ 1927 - The growth of the Sunday School plus the rental by the Allentown School District of aportion of the building caused the church to erect a portable school building on the lot.

+ 1933 - The basement of our present educational building was built at a cost of $20,848.00. This new Church Education building was dedicated on December 10th. Redeemer was then known as the "Basement Church" until the construction of a church building in 1954.

+ 1934 - Sunday School enrollment soared to the attendance of 881 members. On May 6th, there was a record attendance of 848 people.

+ 1941 - Pastor Rees was called to active duty as a Chaplain in the U. S. army, and he resigned on April 16th, after serving 15 years as Redeemer's first pastor. On December 7th, Rev. Walter L. Williams was called to the Pastorate. Steady growth and a positive community image were established under his leadership. At this time, two worship services were necessary to meet the needs of a growing congregation.

+ 1946 - A new church organ was dedicated on December 29th. Mr. William Jenkins was the guest organist.

+ 1949 - In June, the original church mortgage was paid in full, and for the first time in the congregation's history, the congregation was debt free. The Christmas Day service was the final service led by Pastor Walter L. Williams, as he died suddenly on December 27th. At this time, Redeemer had 890 baptized members, 688 confirmed members, and 534 communing members. There were 37 Sunday Church School teachers, 348 students, and 25 on the Cradle roll.

Redeemer 1947 + 1950 - Rev. Richard G. Hoffert was called to be the third pastor of Redeemer on August 3rd. The vigor of his leadership gave rise to great growth, especially among young people. A parsonage was purchased at 1920 Washington Street.

+ 1951 - The Board of Home Missions invited Redeemer to sponsor a Sunday Church School in the Parkway Manor section. This challenge was accepted and from it developed the Lutheran Church of the Nativity currently flourishing on Tilghman Street.

+ 1954 - The "Basement Church" image was erased when the Education Building raised several floors and classroom, and was dedicated on November 14th. Weekday Church School was started; the Luther Leagues became more active. Congregational membership rose to 1,211 baptized members, 891 confirmed members, and 707 communing members.

+ 1955 - Redeemer helped organize St. Timothy Church in the Hamilton Park section of the city.

+ 1956 - Pastor Hoffert resigned to accept a call in Pottstown. Rev. Dr. Hugh E. Yost was called to be the fourth pastor of the congregation on August 1st. During his administration, a full-time Church Office was established and improved parish record systems instituted. The remaining mortgage for the construction of the Church School building was also paid off.

+ 1960 - Determining the need for a larger building (currently with 1,424 baptized members and 1,004 confirmed members, 769 communing members, and 450 member families, and weekly worship attendance at 329 for two Sunday services), a capital fund campaign raised $ 169,000.00 toward erecting a new church edifice. The Rev. Kenneth F. Frickert was installed on July 17th to become the Minister of Education. Sunday Church School, Vacation Church School, and Weekday Church School programs were strengthened and an excellent youth program was developed.

Redeemer 1947 + 1961 - The Pastoral Housing Fund was established to assist the housing needs of future pastors.

+ 1962 - Another level was added to the Education building to meet the needs of a growing Sunday Church School.

+ 1963 - Pastor Frickert resigned as he was called to serve Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Narberth, PA. Under his leadership an excellent youth program was established. On October 20th, The Order for the Blessing of a Church-Site and Ground-Breaking occurred for our present church building.

+ 1964 - On April 15th, Rev. William W. J. Ennis was called to be Minister of Education. The educational and youth programs were again strengthened. On May 3rd, the cornerstone was laid on the new church building. It was built at a total cost of $425,000.00.

+ 1965 - The Service of Dedication of the new building was held on January l0th, and on January 17th, the 40th Anniversary of Celebration was held.

+ 1967 - Pastor Ennis resigned as Minister of Education on December 16th.

+ 1968 - Pastor Yost retired from the active ministry on December 29th.

+ 1969 - In January Rev. Kenneth Frickert was called to return to Redeemer as the senior pastor, and on April 20th, he was installed. The congregation was faced with a remaining debt of $85,000.00 for the new sanctuary.

+ 1971 - Redeemer embarked on a new feature of Ministry: Richard Gardner, seminarian, served as Redeemer's first intern to strengthen Christian Education and Youth Ministry.

+ 1972 - Rev. John Koons served as second intern. Rev. Carlton L. Heckman, former pastor of Holy Trinity, Kutztown, joined the staff of Redeemer on January 15th as a part-time Minister of Visitation. The Eisenhard Annex was presented to the congregation by the generosity of Dr. and Mrs. H. E. Eisenhard and became part of the church property. The church office is now located in the building.

+ 1974 - ln May, the Youth Group and Youth Choir, under the direction of our organist and choir director, Ruth Landis and John McLaughlin, a student at Muhlenberg College, presented their adaptation of GODSPELL to capacity crowds in the sanctuary. They also presented the religious musical in other local churches.

+ 1976 - Sister Verna Meckes became our Minister of Education and Youth Director on September 1st.

+ 1979 - Pastor Heckman retired on June 30th. The Rev. D. Michael Bennethum became our Assistant Pastor on July 1st. Upon the recommendation of the Long Range Planning Committee, a 6 PM Saturday evening service was established.

+ 1982 - The mortgage for the sanctuary was paid off and a Mortgage Burning Ceremony was held on January 24th. Redeemer Christian Preschool opened with 15 students on September 21st. Children from the congregation and the neighborhood attended. Pastor Frickert retired at the end of the year.

+ 1983 - The Rev. Fred Blank served as Interim Pastor and Rev. Carlton Heckman came out of retirement to again serve as our Assistant/Visitation Pastor. Both ministers served into 1984.

+ 1984 - The Rev. Dr. Ronald C. Yergey was called to be senior pastor on February 12th. Rev. Dr. Paul A. Baglyos became the Assistant/Associate Pastor on September 23rd.

+ 1988 - Pastor Paul Baglyos resigned from Redeemer.

+ 1990 - New carpeting was installed in the sanctuary as well as pew cushions, and kneeling cushions around the altar rail were replaced, due to the generosity of a member. A major refurbishing of the first floor of the Sunday School wing was completed by Support Ministry and over 75 member volunteers. All the rooms were painted, new ceilings installed along with new carpeting and blinds.

+ 199l - Rev. Dr. Cynthia Long Lasher became our Assistant/Associate Pastor on July 1st. She served Redeemer until 1996.

+ 1994 - After three years of study and intense discussion, Church Council decided that there would be one Sunday worship service at 10:15 AM. Sunday School would be held at 9 AM.

+ 2000 - In May, the final classes graduated from Redeemer Christian Preschool. Starting in September, The Lutheran Academy Elementary School rented space in our building for children in grades K-8.

+ 2003 - Redeemer hosted Katarina Ondrejcakova as a visiting intern from the Slovak Seminary.

+ 2004 - ln September, a new commercial kitchen in the Fellowship Hall was installed by Boyle Construction. Old appliances were replaced and the kitchen was improved to meet the building and health codes of the city of Allentown.

+ 2005 - Vacation Church School changed its time from a morning program to an evening format. 6 PM was worship, followed by dinner for the participants and staff. Closing worship was at 8:30 PM after a full evening of art, music, recreation, and storytelling. Pastor Yergey retired at the end of the year.

+ 2007 - Rev. Donna T. Deal became the pastor of Redeemer on January 1st.

+ 2008 - On November 9th, the by-laws of Redeemer's constitution was amended to change the date of the Annual Meeting from the 2nd Sunday in November to the 2nd Sunday in February. This was done to provide the congregation with adequate information to make financial decisions.

+ 2010 - The Lutheran Academy moved out of Redeemer to a new site in Northampton.

+ 2011 - Due to a generous bequest by their family, the George and Myrtle Shepherd lnstrumental Music Fund was established for the hire of instrumentalists and/or the purchase of appropriate instrumental music for festive worship and/or other special occasions. The fund is still active and accepting donations to date.

+ 2013 - After months of planning, our On Eagle's Wings Mission Team, consisting of Pastor Deal, Donna Debelak, Cyndy Hillegass, and Mary Richards, journeyed to Ululd1aktok, Northwest Territories from July 25th to August 15th. They represented Redeemer to share God’s work and love with our northern brothers and sisters.

+ 2014 - Redeemer joined the West Side Collaborative, which consisted of Muhlenberg College, St. Timothy's, St. Stephen's Community Center, and Christ Church. joint services are held annually during Lent and Thanksgiving. We continue to work with this group for various opportunities in fellowship, service, and worship. That same year fraud and embezzlement was uncovered; a bookkeeper had stolen a significant amount of church funds. He was subsequently prosecuted and sentenced to prison. Redeemer's recovery began with funds from an insurance policy, the Redeemer Recovery Campaign, and a bequest from the estate of a longtime member, Patricia Frankenfield. Thanks be to God, the congregation remained positive and stable.

+ 2015 - ln August, Vicar Brian Riedy was sponsored by Redeemer along with the West Side Collaborative Ministry for one year. This was a blessing to all to aid in his path of becoming a minister. Also in August, a Child Protection Policy was developed and implemented for the pastor, all staff members, and all volunteers who worked with the children and young people in our congregation. This was mandated by the ELCA, the state of Pennsylvania, and our insurance company to ensure proper supervision of our children and youth. Carole Beck, our faithful office manager/secretary, retired at the end of the year after 35 years of service. We welcomed Michelle Fister to our staff as Carole’s replacement.

+ 20l6 - ln June, Vicar Brian Riedy completed his year of learning and participating in all aspects of worship, education and the greater ministry of Redeemer.

The congregation at Redeemer has also been involved in starting new congregations: Nativity in Allentown, New Life in New Tripoli, and Messiah in Montgomery, Alabama.

Redeemer has also been supportive of foregin missions: On Eagle's Wings, Pastor Lee Barry's ministry among the Dogrib Indians of the Northwest Territory of Canada; Pastor Jonas Yema's parish in Cameroon, Africa; and St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Vladivostok, Russia.

Pastors and Deaconesses Who Have Served Redeemer

The Rev. Gomer S. Rees - Pastor (6/1/26 - 4/16/41)
The Rev. Arthur Grammes - Supply Pastor
The Rev. Walter L. Williams - Pastor (12/7/41 - 12/27/49)
The Rev. Warren S. Harding - Pastor
The Rev. Dr. John D.M. Brown, - Supply Pastor
The Rev. Richard G. Hoffert - Pastor (8/3/50 - 3/7/56)
The Rev. Clarence A. Boyer - Interim Pastor
The Rev. Dr. Hugh E. Yost - Pastor (8/1/56 - 12/29/68)
The Rev. Kenneth F. Frickert - Minister of Education (7/17/60 - 9/15/63)
The Rev. William W.J. Ennis - Minister of Education (4/15/64 - 1967)
The Rev. Kenneth F. Frickert - Pastor (1969 - 1982)
The Rev. Carlton L. Heckman - Assistant/Visitation Pastor (1972 - 1979, 1983 - 1984)
The Rev. Richard G. Gardner - Intern (1970 - 1971)
The Rev. Eric C. Shafer - Pastor (1970 - 1971)
The Rev. Patricia Medley - Pastor (1971 - 1972)
The Rev. Charles "Rusty" May - Pastor (1972 - 1974)
Mary L. Pretz - (1974 -1975)
The Rev. William Gerber - Pastor (1974 - 1975)
Linda Masonheimer - Education/Youth (1975)
Sister Verna E. Meckes - Minister of Education/Parish Deaconess (9/1/76 - 1990)
The Rev. D. Michael Bennethum- Assistant Pastor (7/1/79 - 1983)
The Rev. Fred Blank - Interim Pastor (1983 - 1984)
The Rev. Dr. Ronald C. Yergey - Pastor (2/12/84 - 12/31/05)
The Rev. Dr. Paul A. Baglyos - Assistant/Associate Pastor (9/23/84 - 1988)
The Rev. Dr. Richard Klick - Visitation Pastor (1989 - 1991)
Linda Wasylik - Youth Fellowship Coordinator (1989 - 1990)
The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Long Lasher - Assistant/Associate Pastor (7/1/91 - 1996)
The Rev. Sherwood L. Dieter - Visitation Pastor (1996 - 1999)
The Rev. Kathleen Coleman - Seminarian (1994)
Susan D. Ruggles - Seminarian (1998 - 2000)
The Rev. John W. Tomlinson, Jr. - Visitation Pastor (1999 - 2011)
The Rev. Dr. Walter H. Wagner - Interim Pastor (2006)
The Rev. Donna T. Deal - Pastor (2007 - Present)
Cynthia Simmons - Visitation (2010)
The Rev. Donald Schwartz - Visitation Pastor (2012 - Present)
Brian Riedy - Vicar (8/2015 - 6/2016)

Organists

Ralph Kemmerer
Miss Metzger
Mrs. Hurley
Ruth Long Harding
George Kistler
Richard Neubert
G. Winfred Baker
Owen Roth
Ruth Landis Rayna
Susan Stump Frickert
Ron & Linda Spier
Jane Dybwad Battaglieri
Stephen Ziminsky
Jan Kistler
Olev and Martha G. Taremae

Church Secretaries

Jean Bartholomew 1953 - 1966
Doris V. Scarl 1966 - 1980
Carole Beck 1980 - 12/2015
Michelle Fister 1/2016 - Present