An influx of German
settlers into Williamsport in the early 1800's brought German
religious tradition as well. The German Lutheran and German
Reformed Churches came into existence in Lycoming County in 1827 and
they worshipped together for more than twenty years in a church on
Third Street, next to the old jail.
1852, a number of the German Lutherans desired to worship in the
language of their adopted land. Led by Rev. Henry Ziegler, 27
members of the Lutheran Church formed the English Evangelical
Lutheran Church of Williamsport on March 7, 1852.
Ziegler served the new church for only about a year, moving from
Williamsport to Gettysburg to become the field agent for the Parent
Education of the General Synod. According to an article written by
Dr. Donald D. Housley in the newsletter of the Lutheran Historical
Society in 1996, Rev. Ziegler was a missionary for the Pittsburgh
Synod when he "founded St. Mark's out of a revival in Williamsport."
According to Housley, "Ziegler traveled 11,074
miles, preached 450 services in English and 180 in German, gave 161
catechetical lectures, baptized 92 children and organized 7 churches
which served Lutherans in places as vacant as those from which he
had come." (Read the full
Pastor Ziegler was influential in the founding of the Missionary
Institute, the forerunner of Susquehanna University, in Selinsgrove,
Pa. He served as Superintendent and First Professor of
Theology until poor health forced his resignation in 1881. He
died in Selinsgrove in 1898.