Our History

The Start of the Lutheran Church of the Messiah

On March 1, 1947, the Reverend Milton J. Nauss began the work of constituting a Lutheran congregation in Princeton with a nucleus of just one family. After a house-to-house canvass of the community, Rev. Nauss discovered a number of Lutherans and other interested people.

The first service of the congregation was held on April 6, 1947, Easter Sunday, in the Chapel of the Westminster Choir College with an attendance of 48.  The formal organization of the congregation took place on June 6, 1948, when 48 persons were received into membership.  Later that year the congregation bought land on the southwest corner of Cedar Lane and Nassau Street as a first step toward establishing a permanent home.  Shortly thereafter, they also purchased the other corner lot, across Cedar Lane.  Our present church edifice was completed and dedicated on February 10, 1952.

From its origin Messiah has been involved in campus ministry at Princeton University and other area campuses. In fact, the congregation was started through the missionary efforts of Campus Pastor Nauss, who became our first pastor.  Today this ministry is carried on by our pastor, who serves as Lutheran Chaplain at Princeton University, our student field workers from Princeton Seminary, and the members of the congregation.

On October 6, 1991, Messiah completed and dedicated a new parish building which provided new church offices, wheelchair accessibility for all facilities, additional meeting space, a student lounge, and a home for the Northeast Career Center, an ecumenical religious vocational counseling service, focusing on clergy and seminarians.

Our Pastors

During its years as Princeton’s Lutheran congregation, Messiah has been served by the following Pastors:

Rev. Martin K. Erhardt (2011 to present)

Rev. Jukka Kaariainen (2008-2011)

Rev. John Mark Goerss (1983 – 2007)

Rev. Allen A. Gartner (1973-1983)

Rev. Luther Kriefall (1964-1972)

Rev. Richard Luecke (1955-1964)

Rev.  Milton Nauss (1947-1955)


As people of the Messiah and members of this congregation, we give thanks for the heritage that has come to us through the generosity and sacrifice of others.  Because we live in unity with Christ by faith, we accept the privilege and responsibility God has given us in our day to actively participate in the mission and ministry at Messiah.