in the tenor section and playing trumpet. He also served as Minister of Music at Seibert E. C. Church in Allentown. In 1988, United Wesleyan College bestowed upon him the Christian Ministries Award in Sacred Music. He served for many years on the Allen Organ Company Board of Directors. Al returned as the choir organist for several years, when his daughter, Maxine, became the choir's third director.
Maxine S. Waldman directed the choir from 1993 to 2002. She joined Zion as a teenager, singing alto. She was also an occasional rehearsal accompanist and director. Maxine is very active in mission work in the Caribbean Islands and Mexico as founder and executive director of Caribbean Children’s Ministry Network. She left Zion to obey God’s call to become more involved in missions and teacher training.
Karen L. Shelly became the fourth director of the choir in 2003 and continues today. She joined the Zion family in 1977 and had the privilege to sing under Claude, Albert and Maxine. What an honor that was for her. She embraced the vision of the choir directors – to be used for the glory of God, and Him only.
Various organists and pianists have also been dedicated to Zion’s ministry. The organists include Albert F. Schuster (1958 – 1979), (1993 – 2002), Richard Van Aucken (1980 – 1981), Jack Goodman (1982 – 1992), (1999 – 2002) and Jerry Bigenho (2003 – present). Pianists have included Arlene Bauman (1947 – 1993), Judy (Gruver) Spineo (1994 – 1995), John L. Schwartz (2008 - 2010), and Terri Knechel-Young (1996 – 2007), (2011 – present).
Zion has ministered in many churches in eastern Pennsylvania. In addition, they have traveled to churches in Florida and New Jersey. This includes sacred concerts in the Great Auditorium in Ocean Grove, NJ, and at Bethlehem’s renowned Musikfest. Ensembles of Zion have also sung with the Christmas concerts of Andy Williams and Steve Green.
"Our Lord is still the powerhouse behind it."
The choir is thrilled to be "Living for Jesus" in this day of uncertainty. May you be blessed by Zion and challenged to live for Jesus and Him only.
The name Zion Choral Society came to be used in 1953. Before that time, the program was referred to as "A Sacred Music Festival presented by a combination of Choirs." The name "Zion" in our title comes from Zion Hill Evangelical Lutheran Church where Claude Harwick pumped the pipe organ bellows before he assumed his role as director of the church choir.
The choir still meets today at Zion Hill Church, just as it did in 1929 when the choral group was formed. We consider it our "home-base" and the choir practices there weekly before the concert season begins. In 2003, the name was changed to Zion Choral.
Albert F. Schuster was Zion's second director and he led the choir from 1980 to 1992. Prior to directing, "Al" was the choir organist from 1958 to 1979. Albert started with the choir, singing
Zion Choral Society originated in 1929 as a male chorus under the direction of J. Claude Harwick. Claude was 19 years old when he had the vision to begin a male choir. (Women joined a few years later.) In his lifetime, Claude trained and directed different church choirs. He also taught voice at the Pennsylvania Conservatory of Music, and for several years directed the Coopersburg Band. In 1939, both under the direction of Mr. Harwick, the band and choir performed a sacred concert together. "My Lord is the powerhouse behind it," he would say. Claude directed Zion for 50 years until 1980 when his health forced him to leave the podium that he loved. Many times Claude was overheard saying, "Pastors preach the word of God from the pulpit, but I do it through the sacred music of the church."
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It’s amazing to see the dedication of the 120 people in the Zion family. They sing as long as possible. Choir members range in age from teenagers to those in their 80’s.
The members are from all walks of life and willingly travel great distances for rehearsals and ministry programs. God brought people together from many different denominations and churches to sing praises to Him. We rehearse, pray, and enjoy each other’s friendship. We have become a family, and we are excited when new people join our family.
Jerry Bigenho, Organist
Terri Knechel-Young, Pianist
Barte Shadlow, Bass Guitar
Gary Wieder, Percussionist
Kim Wieder, Percussionist
Dennis Nice, Jr.
Leonard Smith Ronald Ludwick
Cindy Rush Paulette Gerhart