Emmanuel Church


The history of Emmanuel congregation is closely connected and interwoven with that of the Davidsburg church from which it grew. Emmanuel is one of the two branches which grew from the original tree planted by Rev. Paul Henkel in 1790, and which was known as the Davidsburg church. On the 30th of March in that year Rev. Paul Henkel with his family located at New Market, Va., where at that time there was no organized Lutheran congregation. There were in the vicinity a few German settlers who were said still to have held to the regular church (ordentliche kirche) These the Rev. Paul Henkel gathered together and organized into a congregation. In the beginning of the year 1791 a location for the church was selected on the lands of Lewis Zirkle and a half acre of ground was purchased. The deed for the church lot is dated Sept. 9, 1794, and was recorded, and was given for a consideration of ten pounds by Lewis Sircle (Zirkle) to George Adam Sircle, John Bare, and Andrew Bird for the use of the Presbyterian (Calvinist) and Lutheran congregation of New Market. The records show that by the term Presbyterian (Calvinist) was meant what we now know as the Reformed church.

In June of 1791 the first timber for the church building was cut on the lands of Lewis Zirkle by those, some German and some English, who were interested in the building of a church. In the beginning of February, 1792, the logs were taken to the site selected, and during the spring of that year the first church building, a log house, was erected, and was known as the Davidsburg church. The lay promoters and builders of the church were: George Adam Zirkle, Lewis Zirkle. John Rausch, Michael Rader, Abraham Peter, Andrew Bord (Bird), Jacob Kipps, Jacob Olinger, John Bar (Bare), and David O'Roark. Of these George Adam Zirkle, Lewis Zirkle, and John Bar were selected as the deacons or council (vorsteher), the two former representing the Lutherans and the latter the Reforms. The first service in the church building was held in the latter part of April, 1792, by Rev. Paul Henkel who became the first pastor and preached in both German and English, holding services about once in every four weeks until 1794 when he and his family moved to Staunton, Va.

From 1794 to 1797. Rev. John Foltz preached at irregular intervals for the congregation. From 1797 to 1800, Rev. Paul Henkel preached at intervals for the congregation as a visiting missionary. On Feb. 1, 1801, Rev. John Foltz held a service and preached, at which time Lewis Zirkle was elected elder and Solomon Henkel and. John Zirkle. deacons of the congregation, and on the 3d of Ma following Rev. John Foltz was regularly elected as the pastor of the congregation. A subscription was taken for his salary and seventeen persons subscribed $22.32 which amount was paid to Pastor Foltz as a compensation for his services for one year. In May of this year a wind storm blew off the greater part of the roof of the church. During this same year Rev. Jacob Huffman held a service for the Reforms and afterwards served them for a time as regular pastor.

During the years 1802-5, the Lutherans had no regular pastor, but were served by visiting ministers of the Virginia conference among whom were Revs. Paul Henkel, Christian Streit, and John Foltz. In 1806, Rev. Paul Henkel, who had returned to Virginia from North Carolina where he had served congregations, was again elected regular pastor at a salary of $35.25 per year, and with his family moved to New Market and served the congregation from Jan. 1, 1806, to Oct. 17, 1811, when lie moved with his family to Point Pleasant, Mason County, Va. While at Point Pleasant, Rev. Henkel made several trips to New Market and held services for the congregation.

In 1806 a school was commenced by the Germans in connection with the church, which movement met with considerable opposition and some trouble and contention arose between the German and English elements in the congregation, over building a schoolhouse on the church lot for a German school.

In 1807, a tower 20 feet high was built on the church; and a bell, weighing 220 pounds and costing $75, was put in place. On good Friday, 1808, Rev. John Nicholas Schmucker preached and assisted Rev. Paul Henkel in the communion service. On Easter Sunday, 1809, Rev. Paul Henkel confirmed 9 persons, and 22 communed in addition to those that were confirmed. The congregation seems to have been without a pastor from 1811 to 1813, when Rev. Paul Henkel again returned to New Market and served the congregation regularly until Sept. 24, 1816, when he for the second time moved to Point Pleasant.

During the years 1817-1819, Rev. Peter Schmucker served the congregation as pastor. On Saturday, April 3, 1819, Rev. Schmucker preached and confirmed 7 persons and held preparatory service. At this service he was assisted by Rev. Paul Henkel who preached on the following day and assisted Rev. Schmucker in the administration of the holy communion at which time 20 persons communed besides those confirmed on the previous day.

The relation existing between the Lutherans and Reforms was intimate and cordial. They had a common secretary and treasurer, and sometimes would unite in electing members of the council. When the Reforms were without a pastor the Reformed members of the council were often installed by the Lutheran pastor.

From the beginning and throughout the history of this union congregation the Reforms were numerically and financially the weaker, and when they were served by a regular pastor the larger part of his salary was subscribed and paid by the Lutherans. The Reforms gradually diminished in numbers, as few as four are recorded as having communed on one occasion, and at another time the Reformed pastor announced communion, but no one came to the altar. The Lutherans eventually came jut0 entire control.

The last entry in the first record of the congregation is that Rev. Paul Henkel on Dec. 26, 1819, confirmed (in his own house) the wife of Philip Bloom as a member of the Evangelical Lutheran church, after which she with five others partook of the holy communion. In 1820, Rev. S. S. Schmucker, a young man of about 21 years of age and a graduate of Princeton Seminary, became the Lutheran pastor of the Davidsburg church and continued to serve it until 1825. It was while pastor here in New Market that Rev. Dr. S. S. Schmucker conceived the idea of establishing a sort of pro-seminary, and began his career as a theological professor. Here Dr. J. G. Morris, Rev. William Keyl, Rev. S. K. Hoshour and others began their theological studies as his pupils. The building in which Dr. Schmucker conducted his theological school, though removed from its former site and in somewhat a dilapidated condition, is still standing. Dr. Schmucker began his school here in 1823, and it gradually led to the founding of Gettysburg Seminary of which he became the first professor.

It was during the pastorate of Rev. S. S. Schmucker that the division occurred that resulted in the present two Lutheran congregations in New Market. Through him, though scholarly, eloquent, and accomplished, but trained in other than Lutheran schools, radicalism and the new measures found their way into the Davidsburg church and rent the congregation in twain. Some of the congregation were carried away with the new measures, while others were content with the tried and true standards of the Lutheran church. An open rupture occurred when the doors and windows were locked and barred against the pastor who had organized the congregation, was instrumental in building the church, and had served it longer than all other pastors combined. The conservative element in the congregation desired their former pastor, Rev. Paul Henkel to hold a service, and a time had been fixed and announced. But on the day appointed when they gathered at the church they found the doors and windows locked and barred. Some of Rev. Henkel's friends offered to break down the doors, but he prevailed on them not to resort to such means while there were so many other places at which to preach.

Many of those who were barred from the church went to Rader's and Armentrout's churches about seven and twelve miles distant. But soon thereafter divine services and a Sunday school were held in a schoolhouse in New Market. Rev. Paul Henkel died on Nov. 27, 1825, and is buried in Emmanuel churchyard. The silk robe which he wore during his ministerial services, a gift from Rev. Peter Muhlenberg, a Brigadier-General in the Revolutionary War, is still in the possession of his great-grandsons, the present owners and proprietors of the Henkel Publishing House.

In 1824, Ambrose Henkel, a son of Rev. Paul Henkel, was ordained, and at the beginning of his ministry preached in New Market in a schoolhouse in which a Sunday School was regularly conducted under the superintendency of Dr. Solomon Henkel, also a son of Rev. Paul Henkel. This led in the course of time to the organization of a congregation in connection with the Tennessee Synod of which synod Paul Henkel had been one of the organizers in 1820.

In 1838, Rev. Jacob Stirewalt became the pastor of the Tennessee congregation in New Market, preaching his first sermon in the old academy on the 27th of May of that year, and continued to serve it until about 1845. The first lay representative the congregation had at the meeting of synod was in 1840. In 1846, Rev. Ambrose Henkel became the regular pastor. Arrangements were now made to build a church, and in 1848 a neat brick building was dedicated as Emmanuel Lutheran church. From this date the congregation takes its present name, having been known before as the Lutheran church at New Market in connection with the Tennessee Synod.

The church lot was given to the congregation by Dr. Samuel Godfrey Henkel and the first trustees were L. M. Zirkle, L. P. Henkel, and Dr. C. C. Henkel, the latter serving in that capacity at the present time.

In 1850, Rev. Socrates Henkel was licensed to preach and ordained in 1851. He began his ministerial career as the assistant of Rev. Ambrose Henkel, and they together served Emmanuel church from about 1854 to 1859, in connection with a number of other churches in the surrounding country. In 1859, Rev. Ambrose Henkel retired from active ministerial work and Rev. Socrates Henkel took exclusive charge of Emmanuel congregation, serving it faithfully, efficiently, and uninterruptedly until 1895 when on account of infirmity of age and impaired health, he resigned. In 1890 during the pastorate of Rev. Dr. S. Henkel the first church building was taken down and the present building erected, and dedicated on May 22, 1892, Rev. Dr. J. Fry, of Reading, Pa., preaching the dedicatory sermon.

During the summer of 1896 student C. K. Lippard, now a missionary in Japan, supplied the congregation and on April 1, 1897, Rev. E. H. Kohn, of Burk's Garden, Va., became the regular pastor. In 1898, during Rev. Kohn's ministry, the parsonage was built. Rev. Kohn served the congregation successfully until Jan. 15, 1903, when he having resigned moved to Natrona, Pa., where he had accepted a call to serve another congregation. On July 1, 1903, Rev. Kohn was succeeded as pastor of Emmanuel church by the present pastor, Rev. E. L. Wessinger, of Shiremanstown, Pa.

Emmanuel congregation is best known through its former pastor, Rev. Dr. Socrates Henkel, who served the congregation for almost a half century, and through the Henkel Publishing House the members of which firm have been actively connected with the congregation from its organization down to the present time.


Excerpted from John W. Wayland's A History of Shenandoah County, Virginia

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Created November 15 2001
Updated April 18, 2006
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