Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

More on the Lutheran Congregation that Met in the Pelham Picture House During the 1920s

I recently have written about Pelham churches including the one that is the subject of today's Historic Blog Posting:  Our Savior Lutheran Church, which held its services for a time during the 1920s at the Pelham Picture House.  The church was organized in 1925 by the Rev. Carl O. Romoser of Concordia Collegiate.  See:  

Fri., Feb. 28, 2014:  Brief History of the Role Churches Played in the Growth of the Pelhams Published in 1926.

Pelham Picture House in an Undated Photograph Where
Our Savior Lutheran Church Held Services During the 1920s.
Courtesy of The Office of The Historian of the Town of Pelham.

Transcribed below is the text of a fascinating article that details the early history of Our Savior Lutheran Church, followed by a citation to its source.  

This Is of the Lutheran Denomination -- Began in 1925

The most recently established church in the Pelhams is Our Saviour Lutheran church.  In the spring of 1925, a number of families expressed their desire to have Lutheran services in the Pelhams.  The Rev. Carl A. Romoser of Concordia Institute, Bronxville, took this appeal as an indication of the desirability of bringing the Lutheran church to this vicinity.

He realized that the enormous increase in population and resources of the Pelhams warranted another church in the Pelhams.  Many Lutheran are moving to this part of Westchester from New York city, as well as many people of other Christian denominations, and all of these people it was felt must be served.  Then the large section of Mount Vernon, adjacent to the Pelhams, also indicated the need of church ministrations.  These factors it was decided, justified the establishment of a Lutheran church in the Pelhams that would lend its aid to the other religious and civic agencies of the communities, in keeping pace with the marvelous growth of the Pelhams.  

Rev. Mr. Romoser held the first services in the old town hall auditorium.  After the organization of societies in the young church, it was necessary to provide private quarters for those units.  A small store-room was rented on Fifth avenue, North Pelham.  Here the work was continued for some time.  From all indications it became apparent that the field demanded the attention of a resident pastor who could give his undivided attention to the work.  Rev. Mr. Romoser urged the church board of his synod to give the needed subsidy to the Pelham people, so that this might be realized.

In October, 1925, the Rev. H. Wittachen was called as the first resident pastor.  He was installed into his office by Rev. Mr. Romoser in October, 1925, in the presence of a large assemblage in the Picture House of the Pelhams.

Rev. Mr. Wittschen resigned his position in October 1926, and the Rev. A. Koerber, of New York city, was called to become pastor of the Pelhams and of Scarsdale.  Rev. Mr. Koerber was pastor in New York city for twenty-five years.  He built up a church of more than 500 communicants members.  This church's history was similar to that of the Lutheran church of the Pelhams, in that he opened his services in a store hall with only a few people present.  

The congregation of Scarsdale opened its church some four years ago in the picture [house] of Scarsdale.  It now owns five lots for a future church and has a small house of worship on these lots.  The work of the Lutheran church in Pelham is to be accomplished in this manner.  Property will soon be acquired and the work will proceed gradually [under] the guidance of the church boards of the synod that aids it in a financial way.  

Our Savior church appeals to all people interested in the work of the churches in the Pelhams and the civic life of their communities, and who have no church connections.

Services are held at the present time in the Pelhams Picture House every Sunday [at] 10:30 o'clock.  The pastor can be reached by phone in Scarsdale."

Source:  NEW CHURCH IN THE TOWN, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Jan. 19, 1927, Special Pelham Section, p. 5, cols. 1-5.  

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