THE STORY OF THE CHURCH OF TRANSFIGURATION
When the Lutherans arrived in New York in the eighteenth century they attended a Dutch language Lutheran church first founded in 1664. In 1749 the German element, with a majority of nearly eight to one, was not successful in having alternate services delivered in German. They separated and established "Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church." In 1794 English-speaking descendants of these German speaking Lutherans were also unsuccessful in having alternate sermons in English. In 1801 the English speakers: "..bought a plot of ground 83 feet by 85 feet on the corner of Mott and Cross (now Park) Streets, and erected thereon a large, commodious, and substantial stone church, 55 feet in width and 76 feet in length, walls 30 feet in thickness, with galleries, at a cost of $15,000." The elevation of the site suggested the name "English Lutheran Church Zion."
After more than six years of debate about language and doctrine the English Lutheran Church congregation passed the following resolution: "Wheras many difficulties attend the upholding of the Lutheran religion among us, and wheras, that in as much as the doctrine and government of the Episcopal Church is so nearly allied to the Lutheran, and also on account of the present embarrassment of the finances of this Church... that (it) become a parish of the Protestant Episcopal Church." On Thursday, March 22, 1810, the Church was consecrated according to the rites and ceremonies of the Protestant Episcopal Church by the Right Rev. Benjamin Moore and renamed "Zion Protestant Episcopal Church."
The arrival of countless immigrant ships carrying Europe's poor made the area around Zion Church a tragedy. Charles Dickens in 1841 thus described its horrors: "near the Tombs; Worth, Baxter, and Park Streets came together making five corners or points of varying sharpness, hence the name "Five Points." It was an unwholesome district supplied with a few rickety buildings, and thickly populated with human beings of every age, color and condition." Owing to the changing character of the neighborhood, and to removal of many Protestants families to the upper part of the City, ... the permanent resuscitation of the parish in that locality was a hopeless undertaking." On January 28th, 1853, Zion Protestant Episcopal Church was sold to the Right Rev. John Hughes, of the Roman Catholic Diocese of New York. The Parish of the Transfiguration moved into the church building on Mott Street and the spirit of its Cuban Pastor Father Felix Varela, continued to serve the Irish, Italian and now the Chinese immigrant populations in New York. We celebrate the uninterrupted Christian serve of this "Church of Immigrants."