Many German immigrants settled in the area of Oil City back in the 1800’s and they were drawn together by the common bonds of language and religion. Their religious needs were originally met by itinerant pastors, but on July 30, 1871, the German Good Hope Evangelical Lutheran Church was organized. The first church building was located on East First Street at a cost of $5,000.00. For sixteen and a half years, the church was pastored by Reverend Louis Vogelsang and all services were conducted in German.
With an influx of English speaking people and the growing “younger generation,” the need for English services became obvious. Since Rev. Vogelsang felt incapable of conducting services in English, he resigned as pastor. Reverand H.J. Reimann succeeded Rev. Vogelsang in 1888 and English services were introduced on Sunday evenings. in 1897, after much debate and controversy, more English services were added. As a result, some members withdrew their memberships and formed what is now known as Christ Lutheran Church.
The church continued its steady growth and the question arose as to whether to enlarge, rebuild on the same site, or seek a new site for building. When it was decided to build, the original plan was to build at the same site but a very desirable location at the corner of West First and Petroleum Streets became available and was purchased. The old property was sold about the same time. The new church was dedicated on June 14, 1903. On January 28, 1928, a new parson house and parsonage was dedicated adjacent to the church and in June the church celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary at that current location.
Through the years, the church’s membership continued to grow. It was realized that a change was going to be necessary; whether to expand and remodel or relocate to another new structure. In 1959 a fundraising campaign was launched to raise funds for an expansion program. On October 16, 1960, the church was reorganized, the Constitution revised, and the church was incorporated as the Good Hope Lutheran Church of Oil City, Pennsylvania. Later that month, the new church parsonage on West Second Street was dedicated, a gift from the Henry Suhr family. In 1963, it was voted to relocate and build a new church. Ground was broken in January, 1965 at the top of Moran Street and the new church was dedicated June 19. 1966.
The style of the newest structure is modern Gothic with exterior focal points including the bell tower with a cross and the unique peak of the roof. The pipe organ, originally donated by the Suhr family in 1938 was rebuilt on site in 1966. In 1971 Good Hope celebrated its 100th anniversary. In August, 1987, the American Lutheran Church, of which Good Hope was a member, and the Lutheran Church of America merged to form the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Good Hope has undergone many changes in the years and continues to be an exciting “work in progress.”
Good Hope Lutheran Church Vision Statement:
We are a joyful, life-changing Christian community that is willing to take risks to minister to our neighbors
We are especially committed to serving and sharing the good hope with seniors, youth, and their families in our communities.