Rev. George B. Hamm became pastor of the church in September, 1917. The congregation continued to grow. Greater interest was cultivated among the lay people in the mission of the Church, and many projects were promoted involving the young people of the Church. Under the guidance of Rev. Hamm, and the able assistance of his wife, the membership of the congregation increased and its influence widened, resulting in a definite need to provide for better facilities to carry on the work of the Church.
During the 1920s and 30s, a very active Ladies Missionary Society met once a month in a small wooden building on Penn Street [across the street from our current church building], now part of the home of Mr. & Mrs. Merle Reiss. Miss Mary Hess was a dedicated leader of the Society.
Minutes from the Missionary Society are recorded in a journal describing their meetings, ministries and programs such as plays, musical selections, or lectures. Some of the “young people” taking part in the entertainment were Catherine Derr (Underkoffler), Kermit Judd, Lucille Bean (Makoski), Shirley Nauman (Gad), Beatrice Weisel (Weidner) and Ruth Solliday.
A New Social Hall
In 1936, a Building Committee, consisting of George Deemer, John Deemer and Elmer Eckert began working. Soon ground breaking ceremonies for a new social hall were held at Penn and Northampton Streets, across the street from the old “Social Hall” which stood on the land now occupied by the home of Mr. & Mrs. Merle Reiss. Wielding the shovels were lady church members – among them Mrs. Judd, Bachman, Lerch, Boehm, Grubb, Deemer, Hine, etc.8
The new Social Hall for the Reformed Wing of the Union Church (which replaced the original social hall across the street) was constructed at Penn and Northampton Streets, on land gifted by the Deemer Family. The George Deemers donated the excavation work. They also donated all of the stone for the foundation walls from their quarry on what is now part of the Silver Creek Golf Course. Many other members donated money, time and talents to the project. The basement excavation was accomplished using horses pulling large scoops. The Social Hall had a large area with a stage on the main floor, and a kitchen and banquet hall in the basement. 8
Forming a New Congregation
Upon completion of the Social Hall, thoughts rapidly turned to the possibility of using the new building as a church building. It was decided that the time was right for a separation from the Union Church, where, for two generations, Reformed and Lutheran had worshiped.
Modifications were quickly made to the Social Hall, consisting mainly of an extension to the east, to house the Alter, Pulpit and Lectern. Pews and the first church organ were graciously donated by the John Deemer Family. Many other items that were required to make this building a church were quickly provided by many families.
On Sunday, December 5, 1937 our beautiful stone church at Penn and Northampton Streets was dedicated during two day services, one at 10:15 and one at 2:15. Luncheon was served by the church ladies. That Christmas, gifts were distributed including 729 boxes of candy and 729 oranges. It is noted in the history that “21 oranges spoilt”!
The Union agreement between the Lutheran congregation and the Reformed congregation was dissolved in 1938, and the Lutheran congregation purchased the property [Union Church next to Reinhard School].
The congregation mourned the death of their beloved Rev. George B. Hamm, who died July 14, 1940 after 23 years of dedicated ministry.8
“The affairs of the congregation were well handled in the interim of pastorates under the direction of Mr. K. N. Taylor, who acted as President of the Consistory, with the assistance of Mrs. Hamm as the Parish Worker and the Rev. F. C. Seitz, D.D. as Supply Pastor.”7
“On October 18, 1940 the East Penn. Synod granted permission to our congregation to withdraw from the Lower Saucon Charge, and due to a denominational merger, the name was changed to Christ Evangelical and Reformed Church of Hellertown, Pa.”7
NEXT – Part 5: The Church – 1941