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Church History

Very early in the history of York County, German Lutheran and Reformed settlers had come into the Seven Valleys area and established churches. The settlers were soon followed by ministers who organized congregations. At first the settlers were few and widely scattered. They had great faith that God was leading them, and the two denominations combined in almost every instance to erect shared suitable church buildings for the worship of God.

As time went on, the number of inhabitants increased. The few scattered churches no longer reached all the people, and the communities which were rather distant from the established churches planned houses of worship of their own.

On April 24, 1859 which was Easter Sunday, the people of the Neiman's community in Codorus Township felt the need to organize and build a church of their own. A small group of interested men and women organized a Sunday School in the old schoolhouse that stood just inside the gate to the cemetery, on ground that was on the farm of Mr. & Mrs. Jesse Schaefer, now the Violet Shaffer homestead farm. This was along the Patapsco Road, one of the main transportation arteries from York to Baltimore.

As the Sunday School grew the log schoolhouse became too small and classes were held in the woods of Mrs. and Mrs. Lewis S. Brenneman, the present site of the Mr. and Mrs. Robert Bupp's home. After about two years, steps were taken to organize and plan for a church building to house both congregations. The building was erected and dedicated on October 20, 1861. The building was named "Zion's Lutheran and Reformed Church"; each congregation had about fifteen members. The first Lutheran pastor was Rev. Peter Scheurer, the first Reformed congregation was Rev. William Vandersloot. The first Articles of Incorporation were formulated in 1870--in German. Many of the leading families of the congregation had first arrived in America in the 1740's--over a century and a quarter later they were still speaking and writing in their native tongue.

The original church building that was erected in 1861 became too small for the growing congregations and Sunday School and in the year 1882 extensive alterations were made practically rebuilding the original church. On August 11, 1894, the church bought a tract of land across the road from the old graveyard to use for burial purposes for a cost of $300.00.

In 1909, the 50th anniversary celebration of the Sunday School brought great rejoicing because of the success achieved during those fifty years. The records of the church from 1909-1924 have been lost and little is known about that period. However, we do know that during this time the picnic grounds were purchased and improved upon. The original bandstand cementwork is dated May 27, 1921.

The church underwent several improvements completely changing the chancel and expanding the Sunday School area in 1937. The next ten years brought more growth to the congregation. In 1950 basement was excavated in order to house the primary department of the Sunday School which had outgrown its quarters--and to install indoor plumbing. The privies were turned into a utility shed. During the 1950's a yearly Vacation Bible School was held for the young people, a tradition that continues to this day.

The 1970's brought forth a time of change and reflection for the members of both congregations of Zion Shaffer's Union Church. The Lutheran congregation bade farewell to Kenneth Ehrhart, its pastor of 34 years who had followed his father's 33 year pastorate. This retirement precipitated the breakup of the Jefferson Lutheran Parish, which had consisted of Zion (Shaffer's); Trinity, Codorus; St. Jacob’s (Stone) Brodbecks; and Bethlehem (Steltz). The Reformed congregation had a shared ministry with Christ, Codorus; and St. Jacob's (Stone) Brodbecks. As in the early years, both congregations combined to sustain a suitable place for the worship of God. In 1981, the two congregations were united, thus bringing about its current status as ZIon (Shaffer's) United Lutheran Church. The merger--called "a bold experiment in ecumenical relations" by former Lower Susquehanna Synod Bishop Guy S. Edmiston, Jr.-- was consumated on Pentecost Sunday, 1981. The congregation's first full-time Pastor was the Reverend Clarence C. Moore.

The early years of merger brought great excitement as the united congregation experienced an exclusive, full-time ministry for the first time in one hundred twenty years. Attendance and financial support rose allowing the construction of a two-story addition onto the rear of the nave. This 1986 addition expanded the narthex, added second floor offices, and placed a modern kitchen in the basement.

Sadly, the conflict and division which often accompanies church building projects did not escape Zion (Shaffer's). Within two years the congregation was bitterly divided over its Pastor’s desire to pull the congregation from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to unite with an independent Lutheran body.

Under the leadership of its most recent full-time Pastor Zion (Shaffer¹s) became a mainstream Lutheran congregation. The Holy Eucharist was celebrated every Sunday at every service and at Noon on alternate Wednesdays. Ffirst year Seminarians from the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg were welcomed as they experienced Teaching Parish in a beautiful rural setting that is slowly evolving into greater Baltimore and greater York suburbia.

The actions of the 2009 Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America brought a swift response from this conservative congregation. At its 2009 Annual Meeting all Mission Support ("Synod Benevolence") was redirected to specific ministries and By-laws were adopted affirming the original "Visions and Expectations" document governing the conduct of clergy.

On September 19, 2010 the congregation took its first vote on leaving the ELCA. At its 2010 Annual Meeting the congregation voted unanimously to affiliate with the Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC) and to "encourage the formation of an Augustana Lutheran Diocese in the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA)."

On December 19, 2010, the congregation took its second vote "to disassociate with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and to affiliate with the Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ". The vote passed by a 97.5% margin. The congregation was dismissed from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America by the Council of the Lower Susquehanna Synod on February 26, 2011.

On Pentecost Sunday A.D. 2011--thirty years by liturgical date from the date of merger--another bold experiment in ecumenical relations was undertaken when the Congregation Council voted to accept the offer extended by ACNA Bishop Winfield Mott to serve as Bishop to this congregation and its Pastor.

The relationship with the Anglicans was sharply criticized by the A.D. 2013 Council President. At the AD 2013 Annual Congregation Meeting action was taken to remove language referring to the ACNA from a revised Constitution. At that same meeting action was attempted to dismiss the Pastor and replace him with someone part-time. With the dream of grafting together the descendants of the German Reformation with the descendants of the English Reformation shattered, Pastor Shelley resigned on July 31, 2014.

From "History of the West Pennsylvania Synod"
written by Rev. W. H. Ehrhart, Pastor

On April 24, 1859 a Sunday School was organized in an old log schoolhouse. This stood on ground that is now used for burial purposes. The organization was effected two years before the building of the little church on the site of the present church building.

The planting of a Sunday School in this community took the form of a missionary enterprise. For, two years later, in the fall of 1861, the Lutherans and Reformed jointly erected a church building not large, but spacious enough for the needs of the time. The Church was named Zion's Lutheran and Reformed and each had about fifteen members to begin with. The congregation increased in membership very rapidly and as the church soon overcrowded, it was decided to build a new and larger church. This was done in 1882 and was built on the same site on which the first church stood. This gave them a more commodious building and the church prospered and grew to a membership of over 200. She has at the present time two of her sons in the ministry, Rev. Paul Glatfelter and Rev. Harry D. Newcomer. There is a flourishing Sunday School and a very promising Women¹s Missionary Society.

The church had only three ministers in the 63 years of her existence: Rev. Peter Scheurer from 1861 to 1872; Rev. William H. Ketterman from 1872 to 1903; and Rev. William H. Ehrhart from 1903 to the present.

The church was incorporated on November 8, 1870

Pastors of Zion (Shaffer's)

1861 - 1867 - + Frederick William Vandersloot - Reformed
1861 - 1876 - + Peter Scheurer - Lutheran
1867 - 1880 - + Jacob D. Zehring - Reformed
1876 - 1903 - + William H. Ketterman - Lutheran
1880 - 1883 - + Silas F. Laury - Reformed
1884 - 1900 - + Franklin A. Gauth - Reformed
1901 - 1915 - + Nathan W. Sechler - Reformed
1903 - 1934 - + William H. Ehrhart - Lutheran
1915 - 1919 - + John L. Guth- Reformed
1919 - 1920 - + Irwin S. Ditzler - Reformed
1920 - 1954 - + Paul D. Yoder - Reformed
1934 - 1969 - + Kenneth S. Ehrhart - Lutheran
1955 - 1971 - + George A. Heisey - Reformed
1969 - 1980 -    William H. Beck - Lutheran
1972 - 1977 - + Glenn K. Flinchbaugh - Reformed
1977 - 1981 - + Thomas L. White - Reformed
1980 - 1980 - + Bonnie Seitz (Interim) - Lutheran
1981 - 1989 - + Clarence C. Moore
1989 - 2014 -    J. Thomas Shelley
2014 - 2015 -    Matthew H. Stillman (Interim)
2016 -               John W. "Jack" Dyson, Jr. (Interim)
+ of Blessed Memory and the Church Triumphant