Although 1991 marked the first year of worship in our present church building, our congregation has a rich history dating back over 290 years, as one of the first Lutheran congregations in Pennsylvania.
In the early 1700’s, settlers from Germany sought to establish a Union church in the village of “Old Goschenhoppen,” a few miles away in the area now known as Woxall, Upper Salford Township.
These settlers formed two congregations, one Lutheran and the other Reformed. They purchased 38 acres from the sons of William Penn, and by 1732 they had erected a small log building where the two congregations held separate worship services.
The log building, known as the "Gemeinhaus" (a shortened form of "Gemeinde Haus," "Congregation House") was outgrown and a new stone church was constructed in 1748. This building served both congregations for 110 years until it was razed to make way for yet a larger building seating 800 people.
As the community continued to grow, this third church building was remodeled and expanded an additional 18 feet in 1915. It housed our congregation until July 1991, and continues to serve the Reformed congregation today. The two congregations share administration of the adjacent graveyard. The Gemeinhaus still stands behind the Reformed church; under the leadership of a committee of the Reformed congregation, members of both churches, along with local historical organizations, are involved in maintaining and preserving this historic structure.
The union of the Lutheran and Reformed congregations, with shared ownership of the Old Goschenhoppen Church, lasted for 259 years – making it the oldest Union church in the United States at the time.
In 1988 our Lutheran congregation separated from the Reformed in response to a calling to serve newcomers in the rapidly growing Harleysville – Lederach community in Lower Salford Township. A groundbreaking ceremony for construction of a new 6,900 square-foot building was held in October 1990. In the process of relocation, we updated our name to reflect our anticipation of growth and better serving God and the community, while retaining a portion of our history: Advent Lutheran Church of Goschenhoppen! We celebrated our first worship service in the new location in July 1991, and our 30th anniversary here in July 2021!
The mission statement “Saved by Grace, Led by God, We Joyfully Follow Jesus,” inspired the people of Advent through the 1990’s. During this time, many young families and new faces appeared, adding vibrancy to our long-time members who had navigated the challenges of growth and change.
In October 2006, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for a $1.2 million expansion which added a 3,700 square foot wing with new classrooms, a nursery, and office space along with other improvements. The following September, a dedication service was held to celebrate the expanded facility, which would be used in offering the community greater opportunities for social functions and Christian education programs.
“Saved by God’s Grace, Renewed through Word and Sacrament, We are Sent as Disciples to Share the Gospel of Jesus” are the words that have guided our congregation since 2010.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, starting in March 2020 Advent shut down in-person gathering inside the church for six months, moving initially to on-line-only worship and education opportunities. While live streaming of at least one worship service every Sunday along with some other special services continues, we resumed in-person worship outdoors in the parking lot (weather permitting, which it sometimes did not!) in September 2020, using an upgraded sound system funded by a capital improvement campaign. The following month, our annual Confirmation ceremony of young people affirming their baptism was held outdoors for the first time! By the fall of 2021, worship and education were back indoors except for special occasions, albeit with masking and ventilation requirements that have been eased (but not totally eliminated) as the pandemic has continued to run its course. Whereas the 1918 influenza and 1941 polio epidemics forced cancellation of many church-related activities, the technology of the 21st century allowed us to continue most forms of our ministry.
On Sunday, September 18, 2022, Advent Lutheran Church of Goschenhoppen celebrated the 290th Anniversary of our founding as a congregation. Starting during Sunday morning worship with hymns that our congregation has sung over the years, some dating back before the founding, through an Adult Forum during Education Hour that looked at milestones and artifacts of our history, we continued with a hymn sing at Old Goshenhoppen Reformed Church in Woxall, in the building the two congregations shared from 1748 until 1991, followed by a presentation (and two concluding hymns) outside by the Gemeinhaus. We thank the Old Goshenhoppen congregation and Pastor Kevin Park for their hospitality and the informative presentation, as well as everyone from Advent who put together and took part in the celebration!
For generations, the people of Advent have continuously served those in need in communities in this place, from this place. We are glad you’re with us, growing, and being a part of Advent. We look forward to adding to our rich history together.