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25 years after it closed, will York’s old Zion Lutheran Church building gain new life?

A group recently toured Zion Lutheran’s former sanctuary for possible Christian ministries use. The cornerstone of York, Pa.’s, Zion Lutheran Church was laid in 1850, according to Charles H. Glatfelter’s ‘York County Lutherans.’ The reason for building the church? English was fast becoming the language for services in Lutheran churches in York County. St. Paul’s had separated from the mother church, Christ Lutheran, in 1836 over that issue. Zion formed as an English-speaking part of Christ Church’s congregation in 1847. The congregation worshiped at this site behind the York County Courthouse until 1989, when the congregation moved to Manchester Township and closed its longtime home. It’s been 25 years since a congregation worshiped there. Maybe that will change. Also of interest: 1800s German-English worship debate erupted in York churches.


The old church is being studied by a group of ministries as a home for teen boys, a center to feed the homeless and provide other services. Check out their plans: Old Zion Lutheran.


The old Sunday School area of Zion Lutherans stands ready for new uses. Not only did Zion Lutheran and other Lutherans churches weather the language wars, but York County congregations addressed differences caused by loyalties to the North or South in the Civil War. The high church v. low church debate also swept through churches in the mid-1800s. These controversies included more than Protestant churches. St. Mary’s Catholic Church was a product of language wars as well.


This basketball court obviously was added on after 1850. But its presence goes to show the size of the old Zion Lutheran building. For a complete photo tour, check out YDR’s Media Center gallery. 


The old Zion Lutheran building has been ‘homeless’ itself for 25 years. But several striking architectural features, such as this stained-glass window, remain. Also of interest: Dutch vs. English? York County debate still perking in 1920s.

*History of Zion Lutheran comes from Charles H. Glatfelter’s “York County Lutherans.”

Photos courtesy York Daily Record