The first church service was held on the first Sunday in Advent in 1855 (December 2nd), with twelve worshipers in attendance. The service was held in a hall at Nassau and Fulton Streets. The congregation was comprised of recent German immigrants, who wished to maintain their traditions as Lutheran Christians. The services were conducted in German. In the early days, the church was very small, with no more than four worshippers in atttendance. However, the congregation grew quickly, welcoming the many recent Germans who immigrated to the New York area and necessitating the move to a new home at 189 Washington Street in May 1856. Before the end of the year, the church was incorporated and purchased its permanent home at 125 Henry Street for $14,500. The Henry Street church was originally built as a Dutch Reform church in 1839, making it the oldest church in Brooklyn Heights that is still being used.1
Pastor Friedrich Wilhelm Tobias Steimle was born in 1827 in Wurttemberg, Germany, and earned his missionary education in Basel. He arrived in New York in January 1851, and served as an assistant pastor to Dr. Stohlmann until 1855, when he began the Zion German Evangelical Lutheran Church. He was licensed by the Ministry of New York, and helped found the German New York Synod for which he served as President for six years. He passed away on 28 February 1880 at almost 53 years of age.2
“Church Marriages“, The German Genealogy Group, http://www.germangenealogygroup.com, Accessed: 2 Feb 2015.
Nicum, John. Geschichte des Evangelisch – Lutherischen Ministeriums vom Staate New York und Angrenzenden Staaten und Ländern (History of the Evangelical – Lutheran Ministry of the State of New York and Adjacent States and countries), New York: Lutheran Church, New York Ministry, 1888, page 351, digital images, Google Books (https://books.google.com/books?id=eo0sAAAAYAAJ&source=gbs_navlinks_s, Accessed: 2 February 2015). ↩
- Nicum, 375. ↩