A Brief History of Concordia
A group of about thirteen German settlers first gathered for Bible study in Fritz Greenawalt's Chestnut Hill shoemaker shop, but soon moved to larger quarters in an ore mine barn near Ironville, where they founded the Deutsche Evangelsich Lutherische Concordia Kirche, calling their first pastor in May, 1859. The growing group moved to the Ironville School until their gray frame church building was erected in 1861 at the foot of the new cemetery. The land for the cemetery cost $71.25. The next pastor, Rev. John A. Darmstaetter, served Concordia for thirty-seven years, often walking on a Sunday from Columbia to Marietta to Concordia, preaching at each charge. A charter was granted to the church in 1888. The charter is hanging on the wall of the church office today.
As the church grew in membership, the cemetery was enlarged, the church was remodeled, an organ was purchased, and the bell was replaced. The first bell cracked while tolling for a funeral. Services were entirely in German until between 1902-1906, when some English was spoken, though not entirely welcomed. During World War I, one pastor served both Rohrerstown and Concordia. Around 1920, a new Chestnut Hill Parish was formed with St. James in Columbia and Concordia.
In May, 1935, after buying additional land and establishing a building fund, and despite the poor economy, members voted to erect a new church at the top of the cemetery. Volunteers excavated by hand, and the building rose to the first floor within one month. A procession from the old church to the completed new one took place at the dedication on October 27, 1935. Several of the present members participated in this dedication. The use of German steadily decreased until ceasing entirely around 1940.
The post-war baby boom swelled the Sunday School and church services, so, in 1957, the congregation voted to become a separate parish, building its own parsonage across the road from the church. This was followed by a new education wing in 1962. With weekday church school and two Sunday services, growth peaked in the mid-1960s and then began to ebb. During this time, Concordia helped found the Mountville Ministerium. The building developments surrounding the church were reflected in renewed growth in the 1980s under the leadership of our former pastor, Rev. Rundell. On the 125th anniversary of Concordia, a new narthex, remodeled chancel, and steeple with electronic chimes were completed, then dedicated in 1985. To accommodate the growing attendance, two full Eucharistic Sunday services were begun in 1991, and in February, 1999, a third service was started on Saturday evening. In addition, we have Sunday School for all ages, an active youth group, catechism classes, and Bible study sessions. The building is also used for Scout meetings. A memorial Garden in the corner of the cemetery was dedicated in 2002.