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The Birthplace of Effingham County

Jerusalem Lutheran Church

Jerusalem Lutheran Church is the oldest continuous worshipping Lutheran Church in America. Established in 1733, Jerusalem is located along the Savannah River near Rincon, GA in a settlement known as New Ebenezer. The first Sunday School in Georgia was held in 1734 and the first orphanage was built in 1737. The church was built from bricks made of clay from the area from 1767 to 1769. The walls of the church are 21 inches thick and some of the original panes of glass are still in the windows. The bells were brought from Europe and are still rung before each service.

The two oldest bells in Georgia at New Ebenezer dating 1749 and 1752.

Sign on the door of the church.

The interior of Jerusalem Church with the Zimmer pipe organ that was installed in 1970

Fingerprints in the brick.

Finger marks left by the maker of this hand packed brick over 250 years ago.

Stone in the yard

Our Federal government’s oldest historic preservation program is the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), which was established in 1933 as a work relief program for unemployed architects during the Depression. The HABS employed 20-year-old Branan Sanders to photograph historic buildings across Georgia. In March of 1934, he came to Ebenezer and took at least four photographs of Jerusalem Lutheran Church (built 1767-1769), two interior and two exterior shots for “Jerusalem Church, Rincon, Effingham County, GA”


Description from Jerusalem Lutheran’s Website

Jerusalem Lutheran Church is the oldest continuous worshiping Lutheran Church in America. Established in 1733, Jerusalem is located along the Savannah River near Rincon, GA. Lutherans are the oldest protestant denomination, begun in 1517 when Martin Luther challenged the teaching of his times.

The pastor and congregation of Jerusalem Lutheran Church welcome you to visit Ebenezer.  We are always glad to share our past with visitors.

However, this congregation is much more than history. This is a living, working, serving community of faith in Jesus Christ. Our congregation is a mix of direct descendants of the first Salzburgers and folks who have moved into our area. We have lifelong Lutherans, and we have those who have recently found a home at Jerusalem and the Lutheran faith.

Jerusalem Lutheran Church is located on the banks of the Savannah River about 30 miles above Savannah. The church   building, with walls 21 inches thick, was built in 1767-1769 of materials prepared mainly among the Salzburgers themselves. The bricks were made from clay deposits near the church itself.  All that now remains of the original settlement is the church building and cemetery.

The Zimmer pipe organ that we now use was installed in 1969-1970. An upper window was removed, and the pulpit was lowered two steps to accommodate the pipes.

The congregation is part of the Southeastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Sunday Church School is held each Sunday morning at 9:45 am followed by the Service of Holy Communion at 11:00 am. The congregation has worshipped and glorified God for 280 years and continues to be a vital part of the body of Christ.