It has been 95 years and counting for one house of worship in Throggs Neck.
Although a 95th anniversary is an odd milestone to celebrate, the First Lutheran Church of Throggs Neck has so much to praise, it couldn’t wait to commemorate its longevity.
“I am thrilled that we are celebrating our 95th anniversary,” said Catherine Ziegler, a 26-year member of First Lutheran. “I feel as if it is my second home… I believe the people before my time must have felt the same way or we would not be here today.”
The church held an anniversary dinner on Wednesday, November 1 at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine for church goers, supporters, and even had representation from the NYS Senate to celebrate the 95th year of First Lutheran.
In addition to celebrating the church’s founding, the event also marked the 500th year since history recalled Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the door of a Catholic church, also known as Reformation Day.
The coincidence has been especially exciting for Reverend Ulf Lunow, who battled cancer in the beginning of the year, underwent chemo and radiation therapy and is cancer free.
“October 31st is Reformation Day,” Lunow explained. “Unfortunately the Americans celebrate Halloween so we celebrate November 1st… but at First Lutheran we celebrated the Sunday before (Reformation Day).”
As part of the anniversary of First Lutheran and of the Reformation, the church has started workshops about Martin Luther, the Reformation and how it relates present day, according to Lunow.
“We have other events coming up,” Lunow added. “We plan for example a hymn-sing with other churches from the neighborhood: the Episcopal church, the Catholic church, with the United Church of Christ, reform churches. This had been rescheduled, postponed to next year… because of my sickness.”
Since 1922, the church property has had to move more than twice as a result of increased urbanization, like the addition of I-95 and I-695.
“We are a little, big church,” Lunow said. “We always refer to our humble beginnings… but we have a big outreach into the community.”
The current building they occupy was built in the 1940s and has become home to several community groups: the local boy scout and girl scout troops, Miss Elena’s Learning Center, and the Waterbury-Lasalle Community Association among others.
“I feel the people in our congregation are truly welcoming people,” Zeigler mentioned. “We do our best to show how happy we are that we have this place to worship with our friends, old and new, and also our family.”
Along with these anniversaries, First Lutheran Church of Throggs Neck also celebrated the renewal of an agreement of unity between the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation.
“We are going forward with hope that maybe in our lifetime we will have full communion with the Roman Catholic Church,” Lunow concluded.