Rev. Donald Sandmann was called to the Hamburg area as a missionary-at-large by the Atlantic District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. A number of congregations were planned, or already being formed by the Synod in New Jersey at this time. Congregations in Pompton Lakes, Montville, Oak Ridge and elsewhere were all begun in the 1960's.
Rev. Sandmann and his wife, Marilyn made their home in the Pennyrock section of Hamburg. He came newly graduated from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. (Later Dr. Sandmann would become our district's second president.) The first meetings were held in the parsonage, Sandmann's work consisted of canvassing the growing communities of Hardyston, Hamburg, Franklin and Sussex, gathering together interested families.
The first worship service was held the Sunday after Christmas, December 29, 1963. Not surprisingly, Pastor Sandmann preached on Isaiah 9:6, from which the congregation takes its name, "Prince of Peace." The congregation met for Sunday worship in the All Purpose Room of the Hardyston Elementary School on Route 23 in Franklin until December 13, 1970. That was the date the present building was dedicated.
The tract of land on Wheatsworth Road and Highway 94, on which Prince of Peace now sits was purchased and the present sanctuary was built in 1970. This was done with the help and prayers of the Lutheran Church Extension Fund, AAL (now Thrivent), the Atlantic District, the Lutheran Women's Missionary League, and many well meaning friends and hard working members of the congregation. The Atlantic District then encompassed New England, Long Island, New Jersey and the Hudson Valley region of New York. In the mid-1970s it was broken up into three smaller districts. The unique nature of New Jersey, between New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, makes it the only district in the Synod that is a whole state.
In January of 1971 Pr. Sandmann received a call to Melrose, IL. He left Prince of Peace in March. Our second Pastor, Rev.Philip Bruening was installed May 23, 1971. His wife, Alice, with other church members started the "Prince of Peace Nursery School" in 1975.
During this time the Mission Circle came into being. Edna Meyer began the ladies making quilts for Lutheran World Relief. Later the Mission Circle's ministry became the Thrift Shop which was open every Thursday morning and afternoon. The Thrift Shop, when open, engulfed the front room (then called the parlor), the narthex, and the small conference room (now the church office) which was intended as a coat closet. The ladies gathered and sold used clothing and small household items. The funds they generated helped to pay the mortgage. The Thrift Shop was in existence for about 15 years. It was an important gathering place. Many people in the community remember it fondly. Pr. Bruening's last service was February 19, 1978. In October of that year, Rev. Richard Izzard was installed as Prince of Peace's third Pastor. Pr. Izzard, his wife Eileen, and their children came to us from Redeemer Lutheran in Fords, N.J. He remained until 1984. In the winter of 1985 Prince of Peace called Rev. Stephen Vogt as its fourth minister. He and Caren, with their daughters Katie and Naomi came from Immanuel Lutheran Church, Osman, Illinois.
In the 1980's the Synod's new hymnal, Lutheran Worship came to Prince of Peace. In 1989 the congregation tackled the leaky roof by replacing the flat roof with a pitched one, most of the labor provided by the men of the congregation. It sold the Hamburg parsonage and built a new one on Wheatsworth Road. In the 1980s the N.J. District ceased its subsidy for Prince of Peace and the congregation learned to stand on its own. Over the years the school had several directors, including Mrs. Caren Vogt. Under Mrs. Joan Kuehm the preschool became the Early Learning Center and added a kindergarten program.
Today Prince of Peace continues to be part of the community. We hold blood drawings, provide space for the Girl Scouts, collect for a local food pantry, and donate gifts to needy children at Christmas. We've collected backpacks for Lutheran Social Ministries, diapers for Today's Choice (a Christian pregnancy center), an pillows for the Hospitality Network. When the Twin Towers were attacked, Prince of Peace became a collection center for medical supplies, clothing, food and other items needed by the rescue workers. The members of the prayer circle pray for our needs as often as they are summoned.
In December of 2013 Prince of Peace celebrated its 50th year as a congregation. A commemorative, laser cut cross was dedicated during the service after which a luncheon was held at a local restaurant.
This brief history of Prince of Peace does not include a great many people, many still living, who worked very hard to make this ministry work. To begin to name them would mean we forgot others, or weren't grateful to their gifts. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Each person has been entrusted by God with gifts and abilities, which they are to use for building up the body of Christ, (1 Corinthians 1:7, 7,7) No one's gift is insignificant.
In a few places there are names of towns and churches mentioned, places which lost a pastor to Prince of Peace, places which called ours away. In the life of any congregation this is a normal occurrence. It reminds us that Prince of Peace is part of an old family of congregations called the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (founded 1847). We are part of that mission, bringing the Good News of Jesus Christ into every corner of the globe.
May our gracious Lord continue to inspire and encourage us by the faithful preaching of the Word. And may it be God's will to use us for another forty years to receive our praises, prayers and gifts of service.
To the Lord Jesus be glory now and always..
3320 Route 94, Hamburg, NJ 07419 - 973.827.5080 - Rev. Stephen Vogt, Pastor