Bethany 
EC
Church

Church: (717) 872-6775

Pastor's Church Phone: (717) 584-3002

Pastor's Home Phone: (717) 872-2548

1165 Letort Road,

Conestoga, PA 17516

our history

Founder of the Church: Jacob Albright

The Pennsylvania-German were a fundamentally religious people, many of them previously having fled from their homelands in Europe because they had been persecuted for their Protestant beliefs. However, when they came to America, the hardships of the frontier life and the lack of spiritual guidance caused many of these people and their children to drift away from their religious ideals. The Revolutionary War also increased the difficulty of keeping religion alive on the frontier. Drunkenness and immorality broke down the spiritual lives of these once religious people. As a result of these conditions, the few churches that were built were poorly attended.

 

Our church began after the end of the Revolutionary War. A man named Jacob Albright who had been born of Pennsylvania-German parents in 1759, and who had served as a drummer in the Revolutionary War, lived on a farm near Hinkleltown, about five miles south of Ephrata in Lancaster County. In addition to being a farmer, Jacob Albright was a tile-maker, an honest and hardworking business man. His faith in God was restored upon the loss of several of his children during an epidemic in 1790. Rev. Mr. Houtz conducted the funeral services, which influenced the change that altered Albright’s view of life and God.

"Through this continuous struggle,” Albright once explained of his transformation, “I finally was able to separate myself from the way of the flesh, and only attended to that which is above. Gradually every anguish of heart was removed, and comfort and the blessed peace of God pervaded my soul. My prayers were no longer mere entreaties but praise and hearty thanksgiving were also brought as an offering, mingled with tears of joy, to the Giver of every good gift."

  

After his conversion, Albright traveled to the needy people trapped deep in the grip of sin, with his heart aflame to preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. By the year 1800, he had formed three classes with approximately ten believers. At the annual conference, he was elected the first bishop of the group that had become known as the Evangelical Association. Many people chose to convert after experiencing his preaching, and godly-minded men gathered about him at every turn. The new church grew and spread rapidly.

 

The early preachers of the Evangelical Association were known as circuit riders, or saddlebag preachers. These circuit riders traveled with few possessions, carrying only what fit in their saddle bags. They preached every day at any place available: people’s cabins, fields, meeting houses, and more. Some circuits were so large it took five to six weeks to reach all their members. It was often a very lonely and dangerous time for these rides. Nearly 36 percent of circuit riders died before age 30 and another 27 percent died while in their 30s.

Evangelical Association in Creswell

Our records state that the first meeting place of the Evangelical Association was on the Hershey Mann Farm, spanning from 1834 to 1839, which is now part of the Frey Landfill. Rev. Hershey preached in an old house (torn down in 1866) on the farm until 1839, when a new building was erected for worship and used through 1862. The new building, located to the left of our current building, later became known as the Creswell Community Store. (A map of Manor Township from 1852 shows the building as the church.)

 

The circuit was made up of six different churches, which are as follows: Creswell, Conestoga, Pittsburgh Valley, Millersville, Mt Joy and Manheim. Due to lack of space, a new church was built across the street in front of the Creswell Cemetery and was used for worship from 1862 until 1922.

United Evangelical Church
United Evangelical Church Creswell
Evangelical Congregational Church of Creswell

Our records state that the first meeting place of the Evangelical Associatio

Changes to the Building
Founder of the Church: Jacob Albright

The Pennsylvania-German were a fundamentally religious people, many of them previously having fled from their homelands in Europe because they had been persecuted for their Protestant beliefs. However, when they came to America, the hardships of the frontier life and the lack of spiritual guidance caused many of these people and their children to drift away from their religious ideals. The Revolutionary War also increased the difficulty of keeping religion alive on the frontier. Drunkenness and immorality broke down the spiritual lives of these once religious people. As a result of these conditions, the few churches that were built were poorly attended.

 

Our church began after the end of the Revolutionary War. A man named Jacob Albright who had been born of Pennsylvania-German parents in 1759, and who had served as a drummer in the Revolutionary War, lived on a farm near Hinkleltown, about five miles south of Ephrata in Lancaster County. In addition to being a farmer, Jacob Albright was a tile-maker, an honest and hardworking business man. His faith in God was restored upon the loss of several of his children during an epidemic in 1790. Rev. Mr. Houtz conducted the funeral services, which influenced the change that altered Albright’s view of life and God.

"Through this continuous struggle,” Albright once explained of his transformation, “I finally was able to separate myself from the way of the flesh, and only attended to that which is above. Gradually every anguish of heart was removed, and comfort and the blessed peace of God pervaded my soul. My prayers were no longer mere entreaties but praise and hearty thanksgiving were also brought as an offering, mingled with tears of joy, to the Giver of every good gift."

  

After his conversion, Albright traveled to the needy people trapped deep in the grip of sin, with his heart aflame to preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. By the year 1800, he had formed three classes with approximately ten believers. At the annual conference, he was elected the first bishop of the group that had become known as the Evangelical Association. Many people chose to convert after experiencing his preaching, and godly-minded men gathered about him at every turn. The new church grew and spread rapidly.

 

The early preachers of the Evangelical Association were known as circuit riders, or saddlebag preachers. These circuit riders traveled with few possessions, carrying only what fit in their saddle bags. They preached every day at any place available: people’s cabins, fields, meeting houses, and more. Some circuits were so large it took five to six weeks to reach all their members. It was often a very lonely and dangerous time for these rides. Nearly 36 percent of circuit riders died before age 30 and another 27 percent died while in their 30s.

Evangelical Association in Creswell

Our records state that the first meeting place of the Evangelical Association was on the Hershey Mann Farm, spanning from 1834 to 1839, which is now part of the Frey Landfill. Rev. Hershey preached in an old house (torn down in 1866) on the farm until 1839, when a new building was erected for worship and used through 1862. The new building, located to the left of our current building, later became known as the Creswell Community Store. (A map of Manor Township from 1852 shows the building as the church.)

 

The circuit was made up of six different churches, which are as follows: Creswell, Conestoga, Pittsburgh Valley, Millersville, Mt Joy and Manheim. Due to lack of space, a new church was built across the street in front of the Creswell Cemetery and was used for worship from 1862 until 1922.

United Evangelical Church

There were many issues within the Evangelical Association, and the general conference in 1887 brought a drastic change. The final issue occurred when Bishop J. J. Esher wrote an article that criticized the Japan Missions of the church. He asked Rev. Hartzler, editor of the church magazine, to print the article but he refused. Esher brought Hartzler to church trail for unchristian conduct, official misconduct, and grievous offense as minister of the church and as editor of its magazine. Hartzler was found guilty by a vote of 57-47, which led to the split of the church into two groups: those who followed J.J. Esher were known as Esherites and comprised the majority, and those known as the Dubsites, or followers of Bishop Rudolf Dubs. The majority party prevailed and the ministers and congregations that supported the minority lost their church buildings, because the buildings were owned by the denomination. On October 10, 1894, the minority reorganized into the United Evangelical Church.

United Evangelical Church Creswell

In the year 1894, several hundred churches were built, including our church in Creswell. The cornerstone was laid November 18, 1894, and a dedication service was held March 10, 1895. The church was originally as large as the main sanctuary of our current structure. It consisted of a steeple, which was removed 12 years later, a bell tower that is currently almost the same as it was then, and wooden front doors. The Pastor of the newly built church was Rev. A.M. Sweigart. At the time of the split, 31 members remained with the Evangelical Association and 217 enlisted under the United Evangelical Church.

 

The bell had been rung faithfully for many years until it stopped just a few years

ago. No one knows why the congregation stopped such an old tradition. However, the bell was rung again at a special worship service on June 7, 2015, and will continue to be rung again each Sunday morning shortly before each weekly service.

Evangelical Congregational Church of Creswell

We continued to be called the United Evangelical Church until 1922, and by the direction of a court decision we were instructed to change our name to Evangelical Congregational Church.

Changes to the Building

Check out this brief timeline to see just a few of the alterations that have occurred over the past few decades.

 

1949: In the mid-1900s, it was noticed that rainwater was seeping into the old foundation and rotting the boards, so on March 28, 1949, the board approved Elvin Brenner as contractor to move the church back from the road. The building was moved 18 feet to the side and 36 feet back from the road. Workmen used rollers under the main building and an auto wrecker to pull it to the new foundation.

 

1950: The Senior Sunday School class paid to have the current picture of Jesus praying in the Garden placed in the sanctuary of the church. The picture was painted by Rev. Minnich who was a retired E.C. Pastor.

 

1962: Ground breaking took place for the Sunday School annex and a dedication service was held Sunday, April 7, 1963.

 

2013: Renovation of the main sanctuary.

 

2014: Elevator installed.