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Our Ministry is Served by:


Learning Ministry Associate:  Barbara J. Pingatore, R.N.

Organist:  Kim Rauch 

Choir Director:  Howard Bennett

Partner in Mission:  The Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Truscott


In Memoriam

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The Rev. Walter L. Startzel, Jr. 

75, of Westmont; died August 27, 2022.

He was born September 10, 1946; in Shamokin; son of the late Walter L. and Marguerite J. (Edmunds) Startzel. He is predeceased by his brother-in-law, Marshall R. Wardrop and husband of Barbara Cassou, Robert J. Cassou. Walter is survived by his sister Anna L. (Startzel) Wardrop of Wernersville, PA; niece, Donna L. (Wardrop) Cawley and husband, Brian of Easton, PA; nephew, Richard T. Wardrop and wife, Denice (Heller) Wardrop of Annapolis, MD; niece, Barbara L. (Wardrop) Cassou of Chevy Chase, MD and 8 great-nieces and nephews.

Rev. Startzel's journey began when he was baptized Nov. 3, 1946 in Shamokin, PA. He is a graduate of Southern Columbia High School and in 1968 received his B.S. degree in music education from Susquehanna University. After teaching a year, he entered the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg; receiving his Master of Divinity degree in 1973. Walter was ordained later the same year at St. Mark's Lutheran Church, Elysburg. Following are his Pastorates and Christian services; Mt. Calvary & Mt. Zion Churches, Somerset; St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Gowen City; Selinsgrove Center, Pennsylvania Council of Churches Institutional Chaplain; Geisinger Medical Center, Danville, Two residencies in Clinical Pastoral Education; Grace Lutheran Church, Stoystown; Trinity Lutheran, Hooversville; Mt. Calvary, Johnstown; First Lutheran Church, Portage; St. Luke, Lilly; Trinity Lutheran, Sidman and First Lutheran, Johnstown. The Reverend Walter L. Startzel was a dedicated servant of God, with 2022 marking his 50th year of service as a (ELCA) Lutheran pastor. He blessed his parishioners with inspirational messages and his beautiful voice. Walter was an accomplished musician, vocalist and composer; having written several hymns that were used in his services. He also enjoyed travelling, musical and dramatic theater and symphony concerts. Walter cherished spending time with his family, especially at holidays. He appreciated a good home cooked meal; playing board games with his sister, nieces, and nephews; as well as discussing current events and politics. Friends will be received Sunday, Sept. 4th from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. at Picking-Treece-Bennett Mortuary, 921 Menoher Blvd., Johnstown and prior to the funeral service from 10:00 to 11: a.m. at the church. The funeral service will be held on Monday, September 5, 2022 at 11:00 a.m. at First Lutheran Church, 415 Vine St., Johnstown. The Bishop Paula Schmitt will preside. In memory of Walter, donations can be made to the Allegheny Lutheran Synod, 701Quail Ave., Altoona, PA 16602. (

Our History
First Lutheran Church was organized in 1832. The first building was dedicated on Ascension Day in 1834. The present edifice was erected in 1922 after a disastrous fire destroyed the previous building. The present structure sustained damage in the floods of 1936 and 1977.

An elevator and other facilities for the physically challenged were added, making the church barrier-free. Renovation continues as necessary to preserve the building and provide resources for ministry. A chapel was razed in 2013-14 because of deterioration and high maintenance costs. Members are contributing toward creation of a park in its place. The majestic Skinner 3,000-pipe organ was rededicated in 2013 after extensive renovation.

The commitment to maintaining these facilities reveals the solid faith, dedication and stewardship of our members. This stewardship extends beyond our own walls. First Lutheran played major roles in the creation of Camp Sequanota in 1947 and the Allegheny Lutheran Home in 1949.

Congregation Council:  Front Row: Harriet Miller, Susie Kinsey, Heidi Piurkowsky, Bill Price (President), Carol Allison. Back Row:  Barry Critchfield (Treasurer), Howard Bennett (Secretary), Joel Hoshaw, Larry Riddle, Bill Grubb (Vice President). Absent from photo are Bill Hargreaves and Jennifer Hartland.



About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:

The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with nearly 3.3 million members in more than 8,900 worshiping communities across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of "God's work. Our hands.," the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer Martin Luther.

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