Churches of Baltimore

Field Trip to Baltimore


In 1996 I received a copy of my gr-gr-grandparents' 1839 Zion Lutheran marriage record from the Maryland State Archives.   At that time I did not realize there were several Zion Lutheran congregations in the Baltimore area.   The microfilm number was incomplete on the copy that I received and so I was not sure with which Zion Lutheran congregation my family was affiliated.   Baltimore list members suggested that I first investigate the Zion Church, at the corner of Holliday and Lexington, as it is the oldest Lutheran community in the city.   A letter to the church confirmed that it was the correct church. During my visit to Baltimore I was fortunate to meet with Olga Hutchins at Zion Church of the City of Baltimore, and learn about the church's history.

Full size version of Zion Lutheran Church available on the Photograph page
Zion Lutheran Church
Gay Street near Lexington

Zion Lutheran Church was established in 1755.   The historic plaque on the church grounds explains that "German Lutherans began settling in Baltimore Town shortly after it was laid out in 1730.   Relying on itinerant preachers from Pennsylvania, the small, struggling community worshipped in private homes until 1762."   It was at that time in 1762 that the congregation built their first church. It was situated on Fish Street (now Saratoga) near Gay Street, about a block north of the present day church.

Around 1807 the current location, on Gay near Lexington, was selected and a handsome red brick structure was dedicated. A fire in 1840 caused extensive damage to the church interior and it was rebuilt. A parish hall and tower were added to the facility in 1912. In 1835 Rev. Henry Scheib joined Zion Lutheran. He would continue to oversee the congregation for an amazing sixty-one years. My gr-gr-grandparents, Augustus Keehne and Sophia Caroline Kaylor, were married by Rev. Scheib in 1839. A full size version of the above photo insert can be found on the Photograph page along with two views of the church interior and a photograph of Rev. Henry Scheib's painted portrait, which hangs in the vestibule of the church.

The current address for Zion Church of the City of Baltimore is City Hall Plaza, 400 East Lexington Street, Baltimore, MD 21202.

Some early ministers who served Zion Lutheran Church:(1)

  • Rev. George Bager
  • Rev. Casper Kirchner
  • Rev. Christopher Harwick
  • Rev. Siegfried Gerock
  • Rev. Daniel Kurtz
  • Rev. Henry Scheib


The original church registers, dating back to 1785, are stored at Zion Church. Microfilm copies of the registers (1785 to 1977) are available at the Maryland State Archives, Collection Number MSA SC 2600. A detailed description, which breaks down the microfilm number by year and content, is available online. Microfilm may be purchased or rented through inter-library loan.

Keep in mind that the records are not indexed and that names are written in the old German script, which makes legibility a problem. Cheri Johnson of the Baltimore mail list suggests getting a copy of the old German alphabet and writing out the surnames and given names you are searching, so that those names will "jump off the page" as you skim.

Copies of the church records are also available at the Maryland Historical Society.

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The congregation that would become Old Otterbein was originally a group which seceded from the First Reformed Church of Baltimore in the early 1770s. At that time the church was split, as one group desiring a more personal expression of their religious faith sought to replace their pastor, Rev. John Christian Faber. When these members failed in their opposition of Rev. Faber, they left and founded the Second Reformed Church in 1771.(2)
Old Otterbein Church
Old Otterbein Church
Conway & Sharp streets

In 1774 Philip William Otterbein assumed the role of pastor of the Second Reformed Church of Baltimore and would eventually become its namesake. He served the church community until his death in 1813. Pastor Otterbein is buried at the present day church, which was built in 1785. View an enlarged image.

According to Thomas Scharf, author of History of Baltimore City and County, 1881, Philip Otterbein "organized what he called an Evangelical Reformed Church, which became the centre of a considerable conference of churches under the name of United Brethren." Since that time Old Otterbein has become affiliated with the United Methodist. A historic plaque erected in 1970 by the Commission on Archives and History states:

"Mother Church" of the United Brethren in Christ. First Chapel erected 1771, present edifice, 1785. Burial place of the denomination's founder, Philip Wilhelm Otterbein, pastor, 1774-1813. Lovely Lane Chapel, "Mother Church of American Methodism", organized on this site, 1772."

As of 2004, Old Otterbein United Methodist Church in Baltimore, MD has a new service for people with family ties to the church. Information from the church records may be requested using the following email address:

Thank you, Daniel Fisher, for sharing this information.

Some early ministers who served Old Otterbein:(3)

  • Rev. Benedict Swope/Schwob
  • Rev. William Otterbein
  • Rev. Schaeffer
  • Rev. Snyder
  • Rev. Neidig
  • Rev. William Brown
  • Rev. John Krack
  • Rev. John Miller
  • Rev. John Russel
  • Rev. Hermann

Churches which were formed as off-shoots of Old Otterbein are listed below with year of secession and original location of the new church:(4)

  • Otterbein Chapel, 1857 - Scott & St. Peter streets
  • Third Church of the United Brethren, 1866 - Lombard and Fulton streets
  • Fifth Church of the United Brethren, 1872 - George Street and Clinton Avenue
  • Salem Mission, 1871 - Francis and Retreat streets

    Old Otterbein Church is located at the corner of Conway and Sharp streets. It's address is:   112 W. Conway Street, Baltimore, 21201.


          Records of Old Otterbein Church, Baltimore, Maryland, 1785-1881, Family Line Publications, 1995, 214pp., index.

          FTM CD #208: Genealogical Records: Maryland Genealogical Society Bulletin, 1600s-1900s, Volumes 1-38

    The records are also available on microfilm at Maryland Historical Society and the Maryland State Archives.

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    Second Presbyterian Church was established in 1802. The church was located at York (later Baltimore) and Lloyd streets in Old Town Baltimore. I have written to the Presbytery of Baltimore in search of additional information about this congregation.

    The current mailing address for Second Presbyterian Church is 4200 Saint Paul St, Baltimore, MD 21218-1019 Phone: (410)467-4210.


          "Presbyterian Records of Baltimore City, MD, 1765-1840" Family Line Publications, 1995, 326pp., index.   Lists membership records only for Second Presbyterian, 1803-1840; provides additional records for First Presbyterian, Fifth Presbyterian, Westminster Presbyterian, First United Presbyterian, and Gendy Graveyard Tombstone inscriptions.

         (1)  Charles H. Glatfelter, Pastors and People: German Lutheran and Reformed Churches in the Pennsylvania Field, 1717-1793, The Pennsylvania German Society, 1980, p 180.
         (2)  Joseph Henry Dubbs, D.D., Historic Manual of the Reformed Church in the United States, Lancaster, PA, 1885, pp 216-217.
         (3)  J. Thomas Scharf, History of Baltimore City and County: From the Earliest Period to the Present Day, Philidelphia: Louis H. Everts, 1881, p 573.
         (4)  Scharf, p 573.

    If you find any errors on these pages,
    or if you have additional information
    regarding availability of records,
    please contact me.

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