It has been 125 years since the Atonement Lutheran Church in Asbury Park was founded at the corner of Monroe and Grand Avenues- and church members are going to celebrate.
Karen Luttman, who is on the church’s anniversary celebration committee and researching the church’s history, said new information about the church has been turning up recently.
“I am 51 years old and a church member for my entire life and I am finding out things I never knew,” she said.
In 1953, Atonement Lutheran Church moved to its current location at 308 First Ave. Although the basement at the new church had some water damage during Hurricane Irene the old boxes of papers, books, and similar materials were salvaged and moved to a different location.
“And we slowly got these organized. There were books and 100-year-old magazines. I began picking up some of the stuff and I was just amazed. Every time I turned around I found something new,” Luttman said.
To celebrate its 125 years the church is holding two special events.
A short Vespers worship service is being held on Saturday, Feb. 7, with a pot-luck dinner right at 5 p.m.
“It will be your typical pot luck dinner where everybody brings something and we will share memories and stories,” Luttman said.
Memorabilia relating to the church will also be on display, including the church’s original altar and pulpit.
The church will host a special Celebration Anniversary Worship Service on Sunday, Feb. 8, which will include a visit from Lutheran Bishop of New Jersey Tracie L. Bartholomew.
Luttman has been an Atonement Lutheran Church member all her life and her husband Todd’s decendents were early church members.
Luttman’s mother, Jean Rehm, was born and raised in Asbury Park and her grandparents Karl and Emilie Rehm, who immigrated from Germany, were teenagers when they met and got married at the Atonement Lutheran church in 1930.
“My family has been members ever since,” she said.
The church was originally at the southwest corner of Monroe and Grand Avenues. The site is now a vacant parking lot.
Many early church members were German and some early services were probably delivered in German. Ernest Schnitzler built the famous Palace Merry-Go-Round in 1888, just two years before Atonement Lutheran Church was founded.
A food pantry was started at the church in 1974 by Pastor Walter Forker. The pantry is still running and in 2004 it fed 4,573 adults and 1,573 families.
Featured photo from atonementlutheranchurch.com.