SCHIFFLEIN CHRISTI, formed in 1834, was the first Evangelical Protestant congregation in Cleveland and spawned the first GERMAN LUTHERAN church in the city. According to tradition, Zum Schifflein Christi (the Little Boat of Christ) was begun by German sailors who had promised to found a church if saved from a storm. Church records indicate, however, that a few families founded the First Evangelical Protestant Congregation under Rev. Johann F. Tanke in 1834. Within a year, dissension caused some of the congregation to break off and meet in empty storerooms, while the original group met at the Masonic Temple. After the schism ended with the selection of a new pastor, the church constructed its first building, at Erie (E. 9th St.) and Hamilton. It remained at this location until 1876, when it built at Superior and Dodge. The name was changed to Schifflein Christi at this time. By 1842 some families broke away to found ZION EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH, from which sprang most other Evangelical Lutheran churches in the area. Throughout the 19th century, internal troubles plagued the church; mergers characterized its next 70 years.
In 1923 Schifflein Christi merged with the Ebenezer Evangelical Church, which had just lost its pastor, to become the First Evangelical Church, at 841 Thornhill Dr. In 1926 the congregation completed a new church at 12305 Arlington Ave., designed by Corbusier, Lenski, and Foster (occupied by Greater Friendship Baptist Church in 1993). After merging with Trinity Evangelical Protestant Church in 1929, it became the First Evangelical & Reformed Church. In 1953 it merged with the Glenville Evangelical Reformed Church; a final merger in 1969 joined it with the Fellowship United Church of Christ of Wickliffe, at 30040 Ridge Rd. In 1995 the pastor was Rev. Harriett Culp and membership stood at 150.
See also RELIGION.