Thanks to a land grant that settled a large debt owed his late father, Admiral Penn, William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, was able to provide a New World haven for his persecuted associates and friends in the religious group known as the Society of Friends, or Quakers; a western European (primarily English) religious organization that attracted rather hostile attention in the later part of the 17th century because of its rejections of rituals and oaths, its opposition to war, and its simplicity of speech and dress.
From that date forward, settlers began their inevitable westward and northwestward migration into the wilderness of Penn’s Woods.
English Quakers were among the earliest settlers of the upper parts of Bucks County, from which Northampton County was separated in 1752. Thousands of Germans were also attracted to this new territory along the Delaware and Lehigh rivers, arriving in what became Easton in 1735. As the Pennsylvania Germans settled in Northampton County, their skill and industry transformed this region into a rich farming country, contributing greatly to the expanding prosperity of the province. Scotch-Irish settlers also came into the county in great numbers. Although the Quakers were primarily English, many of the Quakers who settled in Northampton County were Irish and Welsh. Additionally, French Huguenot and Jewish settlers, as well as many settlers from Holland, Sweden, and a mixture of other nationalities, contributed to the growing population. This mixture of various nationalities, almost all from western Europe, in what had been originally intended to be a Quaker province in the New World, helped to create the “melting pot” that eventually became one of the key foundations upon which this nation was founded.
Although the Quakers were the dominant religious group in the new Pennsylvania colony, especially in the southeastern counties, the Quakers gradually declined in influence as other nationalities, with their own specific religions, came into the county. The Pennsylvania Germans that settled here in large numbers belonged largely to the Lutheran and Reformed churches, but there were also several smaller sects: Mennonites, Amish, German Baptist Brethren or "Dunkers," Schwenkfelders, and Moravians. The Lutheran Church eventually became the largest of the Protestant denominations in Pennsylvania. Other religions of significance included the Church of England, various Roman Catholic congregations, Presbyterians, Methodists, and various Jewish faiths.
Of special interest in the religious history of Northampton County is the Moravian Church, also known as Unitas Fratrum, an evangelical Protestant denomination organized in Herrnhut, Saxony in 1727 as a reconstitution of the 15th-century Bohemian Brethren. The first Moravians in America settled in Savannah, Georgia, in 1734, and moved to Nazareth in 1740. On April 2, 1741, a splinter group of seventeen members of that Nazareth community received a deed for 500 acres at the junction of the Monocacy Creek and Lehigh River, an ideal setting for their new community.
On Christmas Eve, 1741, Count Zinzendorf and the other Moravians decided to call their new home Bethlehem. By 1761, more than 2,000 acres of land in the immediate Bethlehem-Nazareth area had been cleared. The settlement included 50 buildings. More than 50 business/industries were producing an impressive variety of goods that were much needed in a community on the very edge of the frontier.
Thanks to the strong foundations that were laid in this county more than 250 years ago by the earliest settlers who came into this wilderness seeking a place to live and practice their preferred religions, Northampton’s communities today are filled with houses of worship – of almost every denomination and creed. The influences of time and history are evident throughout the community, and very much so in its houses of worship.
Advent Moravian Church3730 Jacksonville RoadBethlehem, PA 18017
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary2174 Lincoln AvenueNorthampton, PA 18067
Assumption of the Virgin Mary1301 Newport AvenueNorthampton, PA 18067
Cathedral Church of the Nativity321 Wyandotte StreetBethlehem, PA 18015
Central Moravian Church73 West Church StreetBethlehem, PA 18018
Christ Church United Church
of Christ75 East Market StreetBethlehem, PA 18018
Church of the Manger United Church of Christ1401 Greenview DriveBethlehem, PA 18018
College Hill Moravian Church72 W. Laurel StreetBethlehem, PA 18018
Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church411 March StreetEaston, PA 18042
610-252-8823 - FAX 610-252-7694
East Hills Moravian Church1830 Butztown RoadBethlehem, PA 18017
Edgeboro Moravian Church645 Hamilton AvenueBethlehem, PA 18017
Emmanuel's Lutheran Church3175 Valley View DriveBath, PA 18014
Epworth United Methodist Church3245 Oakland Road, PO Box 3107Bethlehem Township, PA 18017
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Holy Trinity1229 Main StreetNorthampton, PA 18067
Faith Lutheran Church2012 Sullivan TrailEaston, PA 18040
First Baptist Church3235 Linden StreetBethlehem, PA 18017
First Moravian Church of Easton225 N 10th StreetEaston, PA 18042-3370
First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem2344 Center StreetBethlehem, PA 18017
Forks Community ChurchWorship:Llantrisant Retreat & Wellness Center336 Bushkill StreetTatamy, PA 18085Office:308b Old Mill RoadEaston, PA 18040484-548-0251www.forkscommunitychurch.org
Grace United Church of Christ9th Street and Lincoln AvenueNorthampton, PA 18067
Holy Cross Evangelical Lutheran Church2700 Jacksonville RoadBethlehem, PA 18017
Metropolitan Community Church of the Lehigh Valley424 Center StreetBethlehem, PA 18018
Northampton God's Missionary Church4965 Nor-Bath Blvd.Northampton, PA 18067 610-262-4412
Our Lady of Hungary Catholic Church1324 Newport AvenueNorthampton, PA 18067
Our Lord's Ascension Polish National Catholic Church2105 Jennings StreetBethlehem, PA 18017
St. John the Baptist Ukranian1343 Newport AvenueNorthampton, PA 18067
St. John's Windish Evangelical Lutheran Church617 East Fourth StreetBethlehem, PA 18015
St. Michael's Catholic Church829 Main StreetNorthampton, PA 18067
St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church1607 W. Union BoulevardBethlehem, PA 18018
St. Paul's United Church of Christ19th Street and Lincoln AvenueNorthampton, PA 18067
St. Peter's Evangelical Lutheran Church474 Vine StreetBethlehem, PA 18015
Trinity Episcopal Church44 E. Market StreetBethlehem, PA 18018
Trinity Episcopal Church234 Spring Garden StreetEaston, PA 18042610-253-0792
Wesley United Methodist Church2540 Center StreetBethlehem, PA 18017
Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church19th and Main StreetsNorthampton, PA 18067