Our church began circa 1817 as a group of Lutheran pioneers from eastern Pennsylvania meeting for informal worship in each other’s homes and barns. As early as 1817, a small nucleus of these Lutheran families had an opportunity to meet in the Knupps School, a log structure approximately 3 1/2 miles south of our present structure here on Acme Hill. About 1830, they called their first minister, the Rev. Schue, who was the first Lutheran pastor to move into the vicinity. He was one of the original members of the Ohio conference some years before the existence of the Ohio Synod and one of the pioneers of the then western country. (Note: Apparently, the entire congregation was not Lutheran.) By 1836, the owner of the school building deeded it over to this fledgling congregation. About 1869, this building, now known as Knupps Church, was destroyed by fire. It was rebuilt and still stands at the edge of Rittman Cemetery.
In the 1830’s, the Rev. Schue encouraged the group to organize a congregation, which they called the Jerusalem Evangelical Lutheran Church. It was also during his ministry that John Long, a parishioner who owned land on the east side of the road across from our present church, donated enough land for a cemetery and also a place to build their first house of worship. The log church stood in the northwest corner of the cemetery and was used about 25 years.
When the Rev. Schue resigned, the congregation endured trials dealing with two “vagabond” preachers until approximately 1853, when it called the Rev. C. Wernle. He served until 1868; however, there was a split in the congregation during his tenure. He and a few members began to meet at a schoolhouse two miles west of Jerusalem Church (Guilford Township Hall). During the time the Rev. Wernle served, the United States was engaged in the Civil War.
The log church became unfit for use around 1860. A new church and a place to build were discussed. John Miller, who owned the land across from the cemetery, said he would give one acre of land if they would build a good-sized frame church with a big steeple so everyone would know it was God’s house. It was decided to build a union church, Lutheran and German Reformed (these two congregations had been sharing the same worship space in the past). The congregation did not proceed with the building plans until 1866 due to the disturbed state of the country, which was involved in the Civil War. In December 1867, it was necessary to inform the congregation of its indebtedness so the people would know how much needed to be raised on the day of dedication. Remarkably – -over $600.00 was raised in a few minutes to pay off all debts. The new church was dedicated on January 1, 1868. According to the 150th anniversary book, The Church was finished in good and tasteful style, carpeted and provided with a good cabinet organ. Its location was all that could be desired for a church. It was seen for many miles from the surrounding country. This building (with several major renovations) served the Jerusalem congregation until we moved into our present building in 1958.
The Rev. George Gaumer began serving the congregation in April 1868. That September, application was made for admission into the Pittsburgh Synod, and this was approved. During Rev. Gaumer’s time the congregation grew to number over 150 members.
With the calling of the next pastor, the Rev. J.H. Smith, the congregation transferred its affiliation from the Pittsburgh Synod to the District of Ohio. He was the first to serve two churches, Loyal Oak Lutheran Church and Jerusalem ( or “Acme” as it was called), until 1897.
Worship took on many forms. In April 1917, it was decided that a Sunday afternoon service be discontinued and replaced with Sunday evening services on alternate Sundays. That was also the era of the pump organ. Six boys in the congregation were “elected” to pump the organ and were paid 10 cents per service.
During the time when pastors served two congregations (the official parish name as of 1914- including both churches was (Loyal Oak & Acme parish) this double-duty led the Rev. B.L. Westenbarger to equip himself with one of the first high-wheeled autos in the area to travel back and forth. (His salary was noted as $75 a month.) In 1919, the Rev. Westenbarger resigned his duties at Loyal Oak to devote his time exclusively to the Acme congregation.
The Rev. Herman Glanders, who arrived in 1919, introduced the Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church making use of the liturgy by the congregation for the first time. Introduced at this time were ecclesiastical vestments, communion cards, and the duplex envelope system. The boys who pump the organ were replaced by an electric system called the “Alamo light plant” which used an electric motor to pump a “new” organ. In 1939, a Schantz Pipe Organ was dedicated.
The Rev. R.L. Lubold served from October 1923 until 1939. He was very enthusiastic about outreach through missions.
The Rev. Carl M. Kessler served both parishes from 1939 until 1946.
February 24, 1946, the congregation voted to sever ties with the Loyal Oak Church after a long and happy union.
The Rev. M.G. Bishop was called and served the congregation faithfully for the next 17 years. Membership increased and by 1955 it was necessary to hold two worship services each Sunday. Thus, a long-discussed building project officially began.
In August of 1958, the congregation made the exciting walk from the old church which had been its spiritual home for many years to the new church building where members would continue their faithful worshiping and serving the Lord.
Pastor James H. Nichols served the congregation from 1964 to 1967. Pastor Nichols encouraged the congregation to use the official name of Jerusalem Evangelical Lutheran Church instead of “Acme”. Also it was during his ministry that the mortgage on the new building was burned.
Pastor Vernel Lundeen served with dedication from 1968 until his retirement in 1986.
Pastor Gerald L. Keller was called in 1987 and served with dedication until his retirement in May 2007.
The Rev. Dr. Edward E. Kropa Jr. was called in September 2008 and served our congregation with grace and dignity until July of 2017 when he accepted his new call in New Jersey to be closer to his family.
Pastor Brandi Hacker was called to Jerusalem in May of 2014 as an Associate Pastor and was a wonderful addition to our church family for the short time she was with us. She left for her new call in northern Ohio in July of 2015.