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It is indeed a pleasure to have you here with us today.  We hope that this visit will not be your last and that we can look forward to your becoming a part of our many spiritual, cultural and social activities.

            ZION CHURCH was established in 1755 for a small flock of Lutheran immigrants from Germany .  It is the oldest church in the nation that has maintained uninterrupted worship services in the German language for 250 years.  German customs are entrenched within these walls and are noted through our language, religion, food, music, academics, social activities, etc.  Although our heritage is ethnic, we are truly an American church that has contributed to the growth of our city, state and nation.  The members of our parish have been, and continue to be, leaders in our community at large.

            As you take your self-guided tour through our buildings, you should have a briefing on those pastors who have greatly influenced the mission of this church.  Of the numerous pastors who have served this congregation, those who prepared the church for the 20th century must be mentioned.  They were: The Reverend HENRY SCHEIB, who served as pastor from 1835 to 1896 and the Reverend JULIUS HOFMANN, who served from 1889 to 1928.  Pastor HOFMANN served with Pastor SCHEIB in his waning years.  What is unique about these three pastors is not only their 93 years of combined service, but what those years wrought for ZION CHURCH .

Pastor SCHEIB was a highly educated man, who was not only versed in theology but also in academic pursuits.  He held very liberal views for his time, many of which brought him under close scrutiny from the church hierarchy.  Yet, he survived their accusations and went on to give ZION ’s members a rational view of religion.  He also established a private church school of high quality, a school that was attended by many of Baltimore’s past leaders.  His 60 years of service brought much recognition to ZION CHURCH. His successor, Pastor JULIUS HOFMANN, was likewise a unique minister.  Through his efforts, the parish hall, bell tower and parsonage were added in 1912.  He influenced the type of architecture used, as well as the appointments selected to enhance our German heritage.  He was considered a romanticist, as well as pantheistic in his religious doctrine.  This will be evident as you tour the property.

The ZION RESTORATION CAMPAIGN (ZRC) was established in 1989 by our recent pastor (1985-1999), The Reverend H. J. SIEGFRIED OTTO, and the Church Council.  The campaign’s mission is twofold:  fund raising and consciousness raising.  To date, we have been very successful and have accomplished the following:  restoration of all the stained/leaded glass windows, a new green terracotta tile roof for the parish hall and tower, roof repairs on other buildings, central air-conditioning of the educational and office areas, cleaning and re-pointing of exterior brick, and refurbishing of the parish hall auditorium (ADLERSAAL).  Also, this campaign has enabled us to strengthen our German Language School and open our doors to outside groups, such as the German Society of Maryland and the Edelweiss Club.  We are a vibrant congregation and have confidently entered the 21st century as we prepare for our 250th anniversary in 2005 under the leadership of our current pastor, The Rev. Dr. Holger Roggelin, who came to Zion from Germany in 2000. 

We hope to bring to this century what Pastors SCHEIB and HOFMANN brought to the 19th and 20th Centuries, namely continued expansion of our Faith through both The Good News and Good Deeds.

Enjoy our buildings and know that love abounds in every nook and cranny.

1.                  Statue of St. Stephen.  This work model was given to the church by the sculptress, the late Grace Turnbull.

2.                  The sanctuary’s stained and leaded glass windows were installed during the latter part of the 19th Century and the first part of the 20th Century.  As you enter the narthex from the outside, you’ll find two windows celebrating the contributions of German immigrants to the development of the arts and industry of Baltimore : the LIBERAL ARTS WINDOW is to your LEFT, with the COMMERCE/ MERCHANT’S WINDOW to your RIGHT. Both windows were given in 1933 by Mr. Paul C. Hinrichs in memory of his parents, Christoph and Anina Behn Hinrichs. The Hinrichs/Gail family was very successful in Tobacco manufacturing and trading and owned much of what is now Eutaw Place . The LIBERAL ARTS WINDOW depicts Zion Church ’s Pastor Scheib as educator and spiritual leader with his students in front of Scheib’s School.  Other panel inserts represent a singing group (Gesangverein) before a pipe organ.  The center panel shows Dr. Charles Frederick Wiesenthal, surgeon and physician, who was one of the founders of Zion Church and author of its first constitution.  The third panel shows sculpture representing the work of Baltimore artist Hans Schuler, among them a bust of Richard Wagner, the composer.  The COMMERCE /MERCHANT’S WINDOW shows tobacco traders and coopers.  Germans were very active in the tobacco trade, and a German cooper invented the “hogshead” (a squat barrel) for transporting tobacco.  In the upper left are sailing ships flying the flag of the free city of Bremen.  Also, the symbol of the North German Lloyd Line is shown via the anchor and key.  Other panel inserts show a piano representing the Knabe Company of Maryland; a smelting furnace representing the Bessemer process, and Ottmar Mergenthaler’s linotype machine invention.  Our German ancestors had a profound influence on the development of Maryland’s economy.


As you enter the nave, the windows to the LEFT (south wall) depict:

-         Jesus blessing the children (Mark 10:13 -16)

-         Luther at his Trial at Worms – “Here I Stand, I Can Do No Other, God Help Me! Amen”

-         the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25 -37)

-         St. Paul preaching in Athens (Acts 17:16 -34)

-         Nicodemus visits with the Lord at night (John 3)


The windows to the RIGHT (north wall) depict: 

-         The Good Shepherd (John 10:1-30)

-         Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38 -42)

-         Mary Magdalen meeting the Risen Christ (John 20:11 - 18)

-         The three graces: Faith, Hope and Love (cf. I Corinthians 13)

-         Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-42)

Four balcony windows to the LEFT (south wall) depict the Sea of Galilee with a quote from Psalm ….., and to the RIGHT (north wall), the rolling farmlands of northern Maryland and southern Pennsylvania with a quote from John 12:24: “Unless a grain of wheat falls in the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain, but if it dies, it bears rich fruit.”

The windows behind and above the side altars (west wall) depict the 4 Evangelists: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  The central window in the choir loft (east wall) depicts: Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46).  Four windows are hidden behind the organ pipes and are visible from the outside.  All of the above windows were restored in 1989-90.

3.                  The present sanctuary pews were purchased in 1840, and metal plates indicate the individual or family who rented them, e.g., Herr Otto Schmidt.  The crude wooden kneelers were not originally used for that purpose.  Legend has it that bricks, heated and wrapped in sack cloth by servants, were placed on the kneelers to ensure extra foot warmth.  In addition, doors on the pews kept out drafts.

4.                  The Altar area:  Our Lutheran doctrine and liturgy places emphasis on the balance of “Word and Sacrament”, preaching and communion.  The church’s earlier pastors placed a higher emphasis on preaching “The Word”, symbolized by  the massive central pulpit (built in 1840) overshadowing the relatively small Altar table. Only the central Altar is used for communion. The present Altar table was placed in 1972, allowing the Pastor to stand behind it facing the congregation. Previous central Altars were kept as side altars, the left one with a marble top representing the 1840 one.
The reredos (altar back wall) was created in 1930 by the German wood carver Hans Eckstein. Its two martial looking statues represent ST. MICHAEL, the archangel and patron saint of Germanic nations (left), and ROLAND, the mystic medieval knight, with the Stars and Stripes and the coat of arms of the state of Maryland (right). Roland being a symbol of civil liberty found in many German cities (notably Bremen ), the statues stand for Heavenly and Earthly Justice and also symbolize the character of Zion ’s congregation: of Germanic origin, but now loyal citizens enjoying the civil liberties of the United States .

5.                  The present pulpit was erected in 1840.  Lutheran doctrine does not support the central position of the pulpit; it was Pastor SCHEIB’S decision to assign it such a place of prominence.  Legend has it that the pulpit was built to represent a ship’s bridge, which is accessible from both sides.  Atop the pulpit is a “crow’s nest”, giving the entire superstructure the look of a sailing ship.  As German immigrants, the parishioners could identify with the perilous journey and God’s protection until they reached safe harbor in America .

6.                  Luther’s portrait is behind the hanging cross and dorsal curtain.  In 1902, a massive reproduction of Lucas Cranach’s painting of Luther was affixed to the wall above the pulpit.  Stenciled to the right and left of the painting were the words: “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.”  In 1972, the hanging cross was installed, ending all viewing of the great reformer.  Now we could no longer be accused of praying to Martin Luther.

7.                  The baptismal font was given in 1905 by Frank Steil, owner of Steil’s Brewery in West Baltimore .  The Steil Family are fifth generation members of ZION CHURCH .

8.                  The altar and pulpit paraments were hand-embroidered, most likely by members of the Ladies Aid Society.

9.                  The HOFMANN memorial Library contains about 15,000 volumes. The stained glass windows depict Pastor Hofmann’s three main areas of interest: “Dichtung” (Literature/Poetry), “Gottesgelahrtheit” (Divinity), and “Geschichte” (History). Some of these books date back to the 16th Century.

10.              The bell tower houses 3 bells, named Faith (the largest), Hope (the middle size), and Love (the smallest).  The steel bells were cast in Bochum , Germany in 1913 and are an exact replica of the carillon exhibited in the cupola of the German House at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair.  The smallest bell is one and a half times the size of the American Liberty Bell in Philadelphia .  The bells swing on a rack and pinion, rather than remaining stationary with the clapper being pulled.

11.              The furniture in the bell tower vestibule was a gift from two parishioners.  The exquisite grandfather clock was made by local jeweler and clock maker E.P. CALLOW.  The two fine Philadelphia Chippendale chair replicas came from the BAUERNSCHMIDT FAMILY, owners of several breweries in Baltimore , such as: GOTTLIEB-BAUERNSCHMIDT-STRAUSS Brewery and the GEORGE BAUERNSCHMIDT BREWERY at Gay and Oliver Street .  Other period pieces are also attributed to the BAUERNSCHMIDT family. The painting of Pastor Fritz O. Evers is by Baltimore artist Ann Didusch Schuler.

12.              The walled garden provides a safe haven for office workers from the surrounding area to take their lunches.  In 1989 and 1990, the local weekly The City Paper gave it a special garden award.  A stroll through the garden can make you feel you are either transported back in time or to a quiet spot in Europe .

13.              The sandstone eagle above the parish hall door is a double eagle, with the smaller German Imperial Eagle at the breast of the larger American Bald Eagle.  This symbolizes the German immigrant at the heart of American life and culture.  The sculptor was HANS SCHULER, the man who also sculpted the Martin Luther statue at Lake Montebello .

14.              The wall tile presentation entitled: “BIBLE IN TILE” is the first and one of the largest in the nation.  This type of Moravian pottery was created by the renowned Dr. Henry Chapman Mercer (1856 -1930).  The Mercer Tile Museum is located in Doylestown, Bucks County , PA.

15.              The eagle under the arches is constructed of wood with hundreds of brass tacks.  Each tack represents a contribution for aid to the German and Austrian Red Cross at the beginning of World War I, prior to the 1917 US involvement in that war.  The eagle represents the German Imperial Eagle with the emblem of the Red Cross.  Legend has it that the late Cardinal Gibbons purchased a tack and hammered it into the plaque.  Prior to its present location, the plaque was located in the center of the parish hall auditorium, thereby giving the room the name ADLERSAAL (Eagle’s Hall).

16.              The graves of former pastors lie within the garden area.  The Reverend Siegfried Gerock and son, who served ZION CHURCH from 1785 – 1787; and The Reverend Johann Nicolas Kurtz, father of Pastor Johann Daniel Kurtz (1785 – 1833), and one of America’s early Lutheran clergy pioneers, is buried here.  The style of the grave site is common for that period.

17.              A piece of the BERLIN WALL is a part of ZION CHURCH .  Baltimore radio station WMIX - 106.5 provided this artifact.  This fragment of the Berlin Wall was permanently embedded in the South Wall of the church, along with a plaque that tells the history.

18.              A memorial to Pastor HENRY SCHEIB as a scholar was presented by his former students.  Although a catechetical school was present in the 18th Century, the more refined academic portion did not begin until 1836 and closed in 1895.  This school was known locally as “SCHEIB’S SCHOOL” after our renowned pastor and offered a bilingual curriculum.  The school reached its zenith in 1871, when 800+ students were enrolled.  Its decline in popularity began in 1873 with the teaching of German in public schools.  The 3-story school was razed in 1928 to make way for the church parking lot. The old school Bell was salvaged and put up here.

19.              The ADLERSAAL (EAGLE’S HALL) is the parish hall’s auditorium, which is styled after the Medieval guild hall.  Guilds were forerunners of today’s unions.  They were brotherhoods grouped by various vocations, e.g., joiners guild, iron smiths guild, etc.  They protected the interests of their members, but also set standards for training and quality workmanship.  The stenciled wall decorations relate to Christian symbols (e.g., the rose, a symbol for Christ as well as Lutheranism.  The owls are symbols of entertaining performance and merrymaking..  The ADLERSAAL is regularly used by our congregation, as well as other community groups, for festive occasions.


20.              The small balcony in the ADLERSAAL is a musicians’ gallery which kept the musicians and their instruments out of the way of imbibing revelers.  The inscription on the balcony reads: “Wonder is the beginning of all knowledge.”


21.        The ADLERSAAL’s (EAGLE’S HALL’s) leaded glass windows are unique in that European city seals are exhibited above each window.  The selected cities represent those from which the largest number of Germans immigrated.  On the outside walls, the 12 astrological signs are painted above each set of 12 double windows.  Pastor HOFMANN had the astrological signs placed there as he had patheistic leanings, which included a belief in astrology.

                                  (The following appears below the street-map)


       9:15 AM         German Language Service

      10:15 AM        Coffee Hour

10:15 AM        Sunday School

11:15 AM        English Language Service

                        CHURCH ACTIVITIES

-                     German Language School

-                     German Summer School for Children

-                     Bible Study Group

-                     Music at Zion Concert Series

-                     Ladies Aid Society

-                     Zion Restoration Campaign Committee

-                     Zion Church Council Committees


(Outside-of-Church Community and Cultural Groups, including German-
American Organizations, use our Facilities for Meetings.)


This booklet was originally developed (in May 1992) by David L. Tabler, church member, with historical information supplied by members: Pastor H.J. Siegfried Otto and Dorothy Galway.  Updated in 2004 with input from  Pastor  Roggelin.