Please note: New information will be added to this history as a part of St. Stephen's 250th Anniversary Celebrations in 2017.  Check back often.

Our History

(1767) In the Beginning ...

            In the early 1700's, William Penn invited the persecuted of every creed and religious opinion to come to Pennsylvania.  Many Germans accepted this invitation.  Their first homes were small, rough log buildings, usually erected near a stream.  To such a small stream called Mohawskunk, which ran through the southwest part of what is now Silver Spring Township, came Michael Hawk, Henry Longsdorf, and some others about 1763.  It was the custom of the Germans to quickly build a schoolhouse and church.  The settlers built a low, crude log house for this purpose on the farm of Henry Longsdorf.  This was the beginning of St. Stephen Lutheran Church.  Services were probably conducted by the schoolmaster or by Henry Longsdorf who had a book of sermons which we may have read at the church service until such time as the church secured a pastor.

            Henry Longsdorf was born February 24, 1714, and arrived in Philadelphia on the good ship Edinburgh on September 30, 1754.  Henry arrived with 160 passengers from the Palatinate and Wurtemberg.  The ship record shows that Daniel and Conrad Langsdorf also arrived with Henry.  Henry's name appears in the Allen township tax list for the first time in 1762 and then in 1763, 1764, 1765 and 1766.  He appears in the East Pennsboro list for the very first time in 1767.  It is recorded that Henry Longstaff (probably Longsdorf) deeded two of his 150 acres of land to elders Johann Christoph Albert, Michael Dill and John Reynicks of the Dutch Lutheran Church or Congregation of East Pennsborough Township, Cumberland County, Province of Pennsylvania on March 2, 1771.  The deed included all buildings and improvements at a cost of five shillings sterling.  This land was to be used as the location of a church building as well as a burial ground.  The burial ground is known to this day as Longsdorf Cemetery.  The cemetery was enclosed by a stake and rider fence.  A man who committed suicide by hanging was buried outside the fence.  The buying of such a person is a graveyard in those days was not permitted.  Since that time the cemetery has been enlarged.  The remains now rest near the center where the grave is unmarked and the man's name forgotten.

            In those early days the whole territory was missionary ground.  The Lutherans were occasionally served by ministers from the eastern part of the state.  However, John Conrad Bucher, a self-proclaimed minister, baptized the children of Henry Longsdorf.  John Bucher served from 1763-1769 at Carlisle after which he went to Lebanon, PA.  There was no evidence to indicate that he ever preached at the Longsdorf church.

            In 1762 in St. Michael's Church in Philadelphia, a Congregational Constitution was adopted.  This Constitution became a model for congregations along the whole length of the Atlantic seaboard.  It gave lay men vote as well as voice on the local level which had been withheld from them on the provincial and national level until the end of the Colonial period.  This Constitution as a major landmark in the transformation from a European into an American church, of a state church into a free church.  The Lutheran Church became a free church, not only in the sense that it was independent of state control, but also in the sense that membership in the church was voluntary, rather than an automatic accompaniment to citizenship.

            This Constitution declared that the congregation had the permanent right and freedom to elect its officers and ministers by majority vote.  In addition to trustees, required by civil law to hold and transfer property, there was provision for a Church Council of elders and deacons.

            According to custom, women were excluded from the right to vote.  They were usually dismissed before a congregational meeting began, but because women "in many homes rule more than men" the Swedish Dean, Israel a Crelius, permitted them on at least one occasion, to stay and listen.

            St. Stephen's Council consisted of the pastor, secretary, chairman and deacons.  The deacons served for 4 years; the trustees for 3 years, and the treasurer and sexton for 1 year.  Council meetings in the early church appeared to be quarterly except when necessary, extra sessions were called.

            The first known minister, Rev. Jacob Goering, spent his boyhood in York County and was noted for his intense love of learning.  He was a man of high attainments, of more than ordinary ability and was an excellent preacher.  At the age of twenty, he entered the ministry.  He assumed Carlisle and the adjacent territories as his first charge.  It is probable (because he is listed in the church history of some of the Lutheran churches in these areas during the same time) that he served in Cumberland, York, Franklin, Adams, and Perry Counties.  He rode many miles to remote preaching points, perhaps thirty or forty miles away.  He continued until 1780 when he moved to York.  It is interesting to note that Jacob Goering was a ministerial son of St. Luke's in the Chanceford parish of southern York County.  Rev. Donald Seiple, whom St. Stephen called in 1968, is a ministerial son of St. James in the Chanceford parish.

(1774) The Ministry Grows . . .

           In 1774, this new group of worshippers built a meeting house.  It was made of logs, plastered and pebbled on the outside, having high gables, and a very high and peaked roof covered with split oak shingles.  There was one door in the eastern end of the building.  Upon entering one was stricken with reverential awe and impressed with the solemn surroundings.  It was larger than the ordinary country church of the day.  Above the door, cut deep into the frame, was the year 1774, two years before the Revolutionary War.  The pulpit at the west end of the building was very high and festooned from the ceiling by long black curtains.  One entered by climbing long, winding stairs.  The high-backed seats were made of yellow pine.  A gallery in the end was occupied by the choir.  The choir leader, a foresinger in German, in later years was Jacob Boor.  He was skilled in music and was a most exemplary Christian man.

            The oldest recorded baptism in the parish register was that of Phillip Schneider, who was born in 1774 and baptized in 1775.  Rev. Goering probably performed the baptism.  Other names appearing in the early baptismal records are Longsdorf, Bobb, Snyder, Herman, Williams, Reed, Eckles, Slonaker, Myers, Senseman and Kost.

            The next minister, serving from 1780 until 1786, was Rev. John George Butler.  He was described as a plain practical preacher.  He was a soldier in the Revolutionary War and in later years preached in Virginia.

            Following him was Rev. Frederick David Schaeffer who came in the year 1786 and continued until 1790.  He was in charge of the Carlisle pastorate, including Longsdorf, Benders and Bermudian in Adams County.  He left behind him sons who stood foremost among the ministers of the Lutheran Church.

            The first record of communion was on Sunday, May 10, 1789, administered by Rev. F. D. Shaeffer.  The following people received communion that day:

                    Michael Hawk and wife, Appollonio                         Dorothea Snyder

                    Henry Longsdorf and mother                                 Catharine Grauer

                    Phillip Bauer                                                         Dorothea Herman

                    Adam Longsdorf and Elizabeth                                Sophia Ralston

                    Nicholas Bobb                                                        Ann Larence

                    Martin Longsdorf                                                    Ann Marie Kindal

                    Margaret Longsdorf                                                Barbara Snyder

                    Barbara Angey                                                      Marie Schweshelm

                    Regina Shambaugh                                                Barbara Whitmyer

                    Anna Longsdorf                                                     Catherine Whitmyer

                    Philip Snyder

            From 1790 until 1791, Rev. Stein was the pastor.

            In 1791, Rev. Adam Henry Meyer had charge of the congregation.  He was also pastor in Carlisle and seems to have left in 1793.  One account reads, "He may have been smart, for his penmanship is miserable and we understand that is a mark of genius."  He used Latin in the Carlisle records.

            In 1794, Rev. John Ruthrauff was licensed at the request of the Bermudian,  Keplers, and Longsdorf congregations.  He served until 1795.

            From 1795 to 1805 there is no mention in the records as to a pastor, but there were two communions per year.  There  is a record of Elizabeth Forney, daughter of George and Margaretha, being baptized.  Very likely, the minister was Dr. John Herbst, who was pastor of the First Lutheran Church at Carlisle from 1793 until 1802.  Made of stern material, he preached in a difficult and arduous field, riding over a very territory that embraced all the country between Duncannon and Carlisle.  It is said that Herbst and a reformed minister colleague, named Hautz, often raced on horses to a point on the mountain, seeing who could arrive first.

            In 1805, Rev. Frederick Sanno became pastor and continued until 1814.  He ran a wool-spinning factory in his home in Carlisle.  He was a man of fine physique, of notable popularity in the community, and of great ability.

            Rev. John P. Hecht followed the Rev. Sanno in 1815 and served only about one year.

            Rev. Benjamin Keller came in early 1816.  This was Rev. Keller's first charge, and the congregation entered upon a new lift, all due to his wise and good administration.  He continued until 1825 when he resigned and moved to Germantown, PA.  There were now eight congregations in the charge, namely Carlisle, Churchtown, Trindle Springs, St. John's at Shiremanstown, Longsdorf, Upper Frankfort, Lower Frankfort, and one in Perry County.

            In 1825, the Carlisle charge was divided, and Longsdorf became part of the Mechanicsburg charge.  Churchtown became part of the Carlisle charge.  The move to use English instead of German in the services was advanced.

            In the spring of 1825, Rev. Augustus H. Lochman began to preach.  He continued to minister to the congregation until the fall of 1827.  He was followed by Emmanuel Keller who remained until 1836.

            Rev. Keller was succeeded by Rev. Augustus Babb, D.D., who served the congregation well until 1839 when he was followed by Rev. Nicholas J. Stroh; he remained six years.

(1775)  From Vale to Village . . .

            Rev. Stroh felt that the Longsdorf congregation should be part of the growing village.  Against the wishes of some members, the church at the cemetery was torn down and sold to John Senseman.  The materials were used to build a house across the road.  The nails used in the construction of the 1774 church were handmade wrought iron and were used in building the home.  A large stone church seating 250 was built in town on a lot donated by the Kissinger Estate.

            From 1775 to 1777, the land now known as New Kingstown was owned by the Junkins family, who sold a tract to Joseph Kanaga.  Some portion was also owned by Joseph Carothers, who in 1814 sold it to John King.  In the spring of 1818, King laid out the village names for him "Kingston."  In 1851, the village was renamed "New Kingstown" when its residents south the establishment of a post office.

            By 1872, the village consisted of eighty-four dwellings, two stores, two confectionery shops, two carriage shops, one blacksmith shop, three churches, one school building, one hotel, and the usual number of handicraft found in a country village.  The population at this time was 370.  The Cumberland Valley Railroad passed within a half mile of the village, and the company erected a large grain warehouse.

(1843) To Promote the Glory of God . . .

            There were 159 members in 1843.  In the year 1844 the name of the congregation was changed from Longsdorf to the Evangelical  Lutheran Congregation of St. Stephen at Kingston upon the granting of a charter by the Cumberland County Court.  The original constitution which was presented to the court reads "Constitution of the Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of St. Stephen's in Kingston, formerly known at Longsdorff's Congregation."  The petition for the charter was signed by:

                                John Herman                                 Peter Kifsinger

                                Jacob Kost                                     George Belshoover, Jr.

                                David Stuckey                                George Beidelman

                                George Reed                                 G. H. Eckels

                                Peter Fought                                 John Ferrovia

                                David Williams                               George Longsdorff

            February 13, 1844, the charter was signed by Thomas H. Criswell, Prothonotary of Cumberland County and R. Wilson, Recorder.  It is recorded in Vol. 1, page 551.

            Article II of the Constitution reads, "The design of this Association shall be to promote the glory of God, their mutual benefit and better attainment of the objects of the Christian institution."

            The records from 1841 to 1846 by Jacob Kost, treasurer to the Trustees, show some interesting items as follows:

            October, 1841, by cash to Matt Lowden - wood chopping at the church                      $   1.50 

            April, 1845, D. Kline chopping at church                                                                  $   1.31

            April 17, 1845 Received out of sale of old church                                                     $ 80.00

            Aug. 18, Printing bills on sale of old church                                                              $  1.00

            Oct. 13, H. Aurand preaching in old church                                                              $  5.00

            Jan. 20, 1846, Brenizer coal for use of the church                                                    $  4.25

            At the close of Rev. Stroh's ministry here, the people recalled the Rev. Babb.  He entered into the duties of his office in the fall of 1845 and continued to minister to the congregation until the spring of 1851.

            On May 14, 1848, a group of subscribers met for the purpose of organizing a library.  It was called "The Christian Library."  Article 7 of their constitution stated:  "Members who have paid one dollar shall be considered life members and members who have paid less sums shall be considered members as long as the amount of their subscription lasts at the rate of 12 1/2 cents per annum, and should they punctually and in advance pay 12 1/2 cents per annum until they have paid one dollar, they shall be considered life members.  But should they suffer their membership to expire and not renew it within three months, they will then have to make application as new members and be treated as such.  And it will require this same amount of money from that date to constitute them life members as they they never had been members of the association."

            They were allowed to have one book for two weeks at a time.  The penalty for overdue books was 6 1/4 cents.  Some of the books listed were:

                        Starr and Flates, Theology                                  8 volumes

                        Hornes, Introduction to the Scriptures                  2 volumes

                        Ernestis, Principles of Biblical Interpretation

                        Schmuckers, Popular Theology

                        The Book of Concord, Late Edition

                        Herzogs, Theological and Ecclesiastical Encyclopedia

                        The Family Doctor

                        Hamilton's Lectures on Metaphysics

            The Rev. Adam Height became the pastor April 1, 1851 and remained until 1853 when he was followed by Rev. C. Nitterauer, who began in the Spring of 1854 and stayed until April 1, 1858.

            Money for the pastor's salary and expenses of the church was raised by renting pews and taking subscriptions for special reasons.  In 1851 the pew rent was raised to $6.00 because the congregation was in arrears on the pastor's salary.  In 1856 pew rent was a maximum of $8.00 and a minimum of $4.00.

            The trustees decided to enclose the graveyard with a stone wall.  All who had friends lying there were asked to give according to their ability.  Anyone giving $5.00 toward the wall was entitled to the right of a place of burial for his or her family.  Contributions were from $1.00 to $25.00.

            About this time it became necessary to build a tool house at the cemetery.  Subscriptions totalling $24.40 varied from 25 cents to $1.00.  The amount paid for mattock, screws, dressing hoe, hasp and staples, digging iron ($1.50), drill and auger ($3.00), shovel, spade, sledge hammer ($4.48), plus more, was $24.36.

(1856) St. Stephen and Others . . .

            In 1829 David Neiswanger and his wife gave a lot in Mechanicsburg to the congregations of St. Stephen, Trindle Springs, and Peace churches.  The three churches owned a parsonage together in Mechanicsburg.  It was located on the southwest corner of Walnut and East Main Streets.  (It is still there and is similar to the parsonage in New Kingstown.)  St. Stephen decided to sell its third.  On April 7, 1856, the value of the gift from Neiswangers was $400.00, St. Stephen wanted the other two congregations to pay them $24.00 a year rent or 1/3 of the value as interest, but they refused.  On April 12th, a committee reported that "they had settled the existing difficulty amicably for $418.00 and produced the money."

            The Churchtown Lutheran Congregation was organized in 1795.  About 1854 or 1855 negotiations were under way to join with Churchtown.  These negotiations were completed between 1855 and 1858.  In 1858 the members started talking about building a parsonage.  A contract was made in 1859 for $1,500.00.  Churchtown was asked to pay $500.00, since New Kingstown had paid $1,000.00.  This parsonage was completed in 1862.  The committee in charge was George Kost, George Beltzhoover, and C. Hartman.

            Scholarships to Pennsylvania College, which was founded in 1834 and now known as Gettysburg College, we sold through a synodical committee to individual congregations.  St. Stephen paid $350.00 for a scholarship dated September 9, 1856.  It was recorded in the minutes that a letter was received stating that they had paid $300.00 but still owed $50.00.

            On February 24, 1872, the church made inquiry about the standing of the scholarship.  The pastor was instructed to write to Gettysburg College about the amount of money remaining in the scholarship fund.

            October 1878, Wm. C. Nye made application for the use of the Gettysburg scholarship.  It was given to him for one year.

            "On motion, it was agreed that the scholarship be given to Mr. M.D. Gaver for one year at a cost of $18.00, one half to be paid January 1, 1879, the other half July 1, 1879.  M. D. Gaver was notified to send the money for the scholarship directly to the church."

(1856)  From Pew Rent and Pennies . . .

            Upon the departure of Rev. C. Nitterauer, Rev. William Kopp assumed the duties of the charge and later lived in the new parsonage.

            Because Rev. William Kopp was a faithful pastor and the congregation did not consider his salary sufficient "for the circumstances of the charge and the support of his family," they increased the salary to $250.00 for the current year and $275.00 per annum thereafter.

            The pew rent at that time was $5.00 and $12.00.

            The duties of the sexton as listed September 1856 for !50.00 per year were to open the church when necessary, to build the fire, to light the lamps, and to ring the bell before services and choir practice.  "He shall also be the person who shall have the privilege of digging graves.  He shall be entitled to one dollar for every grave that he digs in the graveyard connected with this church."

            In 1863, our country was engaged in the Civil War, but there is no record of any members serving in it.  Probably Confederate troops passed by because they were in Carlisle, Mechanicsburg and Camp Hill.

            Rev. Kopp resigned August 1, 1864, and moved west.  He was followed by Rev. H. R. Fleck, who was unanimously elected and called to be the pastor on March 25, 1865.  He was a young man and served the congregation for six years.

            In 1870 each male was assessed $1.00 and each female $.50 to purchase fuel, light, etc.  During this time they raised the wall of the stable for the parsonage eight inches to keep out the water.

            Rev. Fleck then moved to Newville.  Rev. G. F. Sheaffer became his successor on April 1, 1871, and remained until August 1, 1873.  Rev. Daniel Sell followed and in 1875 moved to East Berlin, Adams County.

            Next we find Rev. Daniel Beckner taking charge October 1, 1875.  A good preacher, modest and unassuming, he died on July 26, 1877.

            It is interesting to note that even though the financial affairs of the church were insecure, the members were considering building a new church.  January 26, 1876, the minutes record "On motion it was agreed that after February a notice be posted on the pew of each delinquent debtor, 'Whereas the church is in debt and some have not been paying anything and others not what they should, it has therefore been resolved by the Council that after the close of the ninth of February all members being in arrears that a card of their indebtedness shall be posted on the seat in front of them and that this notice be publicly read twice commencing tomorrow Sunday 27th.'"

            Rev. Beckner was succeeded by Rev. George H. Slaybaugh on December 1, 1877.  He was a great church worker, and his works spoke for themselves.

            An item in the minutes is "On motion of B. K. Hall, it was agreed that each collector ascertain, if possible, during the coming week what each member is willing to pay quarterly or monthly toward the support of the church and to make a note of those refusing to contribute toward the support of the church and report their progress to the secretary."

(1879)  To Build or Not To Build . . .

            During the pastorate of Rev. Slaybaugh, the members wanted to build a new church.  As early as July 9, 1876, a committee of five - Rev. Beckner, W. Zeigler, W. P. Eckels, Samuel Williams and W. Bishop - was appointed to consider what to do about the stone church.  The committee recommended tearing down the old church and rebuilding.  Then a committee of three, Wm. Zeigler, W.P. Eckels and Sam Williams, were appointed to make a draft, specifications, and probable cost of the new building.

            Some council minutes from 1878 show the congregation's interests were broadening.  In October "it was agreed to donate the communion collection to Home Missions for the purpose of supporting a travelling missionary in Kansas."

            Also in October 1878, "the use of the stone church was granted to Prof. W. A. Searight for the purpose of holding a musical convention for two weeks provided he pays $8.00 for it and in case he did not succeed in raising a class, he pay a pro-rated amount for each evening the church is used.

            On January 19, 1879, a motion was made by P. W. Herman and J. W. Duey to tear down the old stone church.  A committee, Samuel Williams, P. Eckels, and P. Y. Herman, was elected, and subscriptions were requested.  The response was generous but not enough.  At the April meeting the trustees asked the people if they were willing to let their subscriptions stand for remodeling the stone church.  The idea of building a new church was dropped.  Then a committee, P. Y. Herman, Samuel Williams and J. Y. Bucher, looked into how much it would cost for brick and stone to build a recessed chancel and a new entrance.  The materials would have cost too much for just remodeling.  In May it was decided to go back to the original plan and use as much material from the old church as possible to build a new one costing approximately $3,000.  (Perhaps some of the stone and bricks are in our present church.)

            The building committee consisted of Samuel Williams, W. P. Eckels and M. Swartz.  The stone church had been used for thirty-six years.  The new brick church was built in 1879 and dedicated June 27, 1880.

            Council members in 1879 were W. P. Eckels (President), W. W. Wanbaugh (Secretary), Adam Orris (Treasurer), John Fought, B. K. Hall (Auditors), J. Y Bucher, J. E. Duey, P. W. Herman, Samuel Williams and John Souders.  Other council members in 1880 were M. Swartz, J. P. Kost, E. Dunkelberger and W. Trimble.

            In 1880 pews rented for the following:  all front seats, $5.00; center aisle, five on either side, $16.00; three at $14.00; two at $12.00, one at $8.00 and one at $7.00; outside aisle, four at $14.00, three at $12.00, one at $8.00, one at $7.00, one at $6.00, one at $5.00; corner pews, all $15.00.

(1891)  The Ministry Continues to Grow . . .

            In 1891, a fence for the barnyard at the parsonage was built and a bed (top) was put on the cistern.

            Repairs were made to the hog pen in 1893.

            A new tool house at the cemetery was built in 1897 at a cost of $206.00.  Rev. Fleck was given a burial plot.

            1898 - the charge for grave digging was:  a child not over 6 years of age, $2.00; a person over 6 but not over 15, $3.00; an older person, $4.00 unless a wall was wanted or rock was encountered.

            In a 1879 Resolution, Deacons were requested "to try to collect subscriptions and if unable to pay, to make a statement to the Council who would exonerate them.  This resolution to be read by the Pastor who was invited to make any remarks he wished and to be done at the time of giving the notice of the subscriptions being due."

            Also in 1879 a Ladies Aid Society was organized for the purpose of obtaining funds for the church.  Only ladies had the right to vote and after paying a ten cent initiation fee, the dues were five cents a month.  Originally it was to be three cents, but they raised it to five cents.

            On October 6, 1882, some of the leaders of the Lutheran Church of New Kingstown met in "the lecture room".  The object of the meeting was to organize a Women's Missionary Society.  Ten days later, the constitution of the Women's Home and Foreign Missionary Society of St. Stephen Evangelical Lutheran Church of New Kingstown, PA was adopted.  The payment of one dollar annually or in monthly installments of ten cents constituted membership.  Gentlemen could become honorary members by paying one dollar annually.

            After Rev. Slaybaugh resigned April 1, 1881, Rev. H. R. Fleck was again elected pastor.  He served six years during his first pastorate, and nineteen years on the second making a total of twenty-five years.  This was the longest time for any one minister to stay in charge.  Rev. Fleck was a popular, patient and faithful preacher.

            Individual communion cups were first voted into use in January 1898.

            Following Rev. Fleck, the congregation voted to call Rev. Robert Meisnhelder on March 11, 1899, if Churchtown agreed.  Apparently Churchtown did not agree because on May 28, 1899, Rev. W. H. Hilbish was approved by New Kingstown; but again Churchtown did not concur.  Finally, in June 1899, Rev. H. Shimer was called and declared pastor.

(1900) Into the Twentieth Century . . .

            During the years 1900 to 1904 a great effort was made to beautify the church.  New carpet and music racks were installed, frescoing was done, pavement was laid, and shelves in the library were added.  Sheds were built around the yard in the rear for the horses.

            A June 23, 1901 motion reads, "Mr. Swartz moved that we expend the sum of ten dollars to be taken from the Benevolence Fund for hymn books to be placed in the auditorium."

            In June of 1905 the treasurer was given authority to end out quarterly statements enclosing an envelope which was to be returned.  No reason was given for this action.

            The next pastor was Rev. J. W. Weeter.

            It was during Rev. Weeter's pastorate that the pipe organ was placed in the church.  Mr. Carnegie, the famous financial baron, agreed to pay for half of the organ.  Previous to this time, a reed organ had been used.  In 1905, J. P. Beistline was elected choir leader and Daniel Howard was also elected organist in 1906.  His salary was $52.00 per year.  His duties included playing for all services, Sunday School entertainments, and rehearsals.  Because there was no electricity available, an organ pumper was necessary.  Mr. Lutz was elected to that position at a salary of $26.00 per year.  Mr. Lutz was also the sexton and his salary for that was $40.00 per year.

            At the council meeting during which Daniel Howard was elected organist, the following resolutions were adopted:

    1st Resolve:  That the choir meet for practice on the Saturday evening previous to the preaching service scheduled for the following Sunday, during the time it is necessary to heat the church, and on any other evening they may choose during the balance of the year.
    2nd Resolve:  That the organist meet for practice on Monday evening of each week and the limit of time for practice be 1-1/2 hours.
    3rd Resolve:  That the hour for practice from October 1st to April 1st, be 7:30 o'clock and from April 1st to October 1st, be 8:00 o'clock.
    4th Resolve:  That the limit of time for ordinary practice by 1-1/2 hours.
    5th Resolve:  That the sexton ring the bell 15 minutes before the hour of practice.
    6th Resolve:  That the church organist is entitled to preside on all occasions at the pipe organ.

            Pastor Weeter resigned in 1907.

            In 1908, Rev. Joel E. Grubb was elected, an envelope system for offerings was adopted, and the Men's Bible Class was organized.

            Rev. Grubb published quarterly a small magazine called "The Church Companion" for New Kingstown and Churchtown.  It included a directory of personnel of Church Council, Sunday School, Ladies Aid Society, Women's Missionary Society, Christian Endeavor, and Organist.  Articles included "Greetings from Pastor", "What to Read", "The Old and New" (about the church), "The Valley and the Shadow" (about a death), "Church News", "The Outlook" (about the election), "Bible Questions", "Answers" to previous issues' questions, "Sermon Subjects for the Quarter", "Poetry", and "Two Songs".

            A new Constitution and By-Laws were adopted in 1909 to go into effect on the next Ascension Day.  (During those years, Congregational meetings were held on Ascension Day.)


(1911) Out of the Ashes . . .

            It was during Rev. Grubb's administration in 1911 that the church burned.  Rumor has it that the fire was started by a boy playing with matches.   A number of houses on the south side of the town burned; when sparks blew across the road, they landed on the wooden shingle roof of the church.  The church was the only building on the north side of the road that burned.

            Immediately, the congregation started plans to rebuild on a much larger scale.

            Upon Rev. Grubb's resignation in 1912, Rev. J. K. Robb assumed the pastorate.

            Plans for the new building moved ahead.  Mr. A. A. Richter, an architect from Reading, drew the plans, and the contract was let to James Porter of Carlisle.  Part of the old walls were used in the reconstruction.  "The main audience room, 50 by 70 feet, with handsome art glass windows, new pews of churchly design, and fine carpet with a large Moller Pneumatic organ costing $1700.00, lighted with electricity, and handsomely frescoed, constitute the church proper.  On the north side, connected with the church, has been erected a modern complete Sunday School room, 40 by 70 feet, with classrooms for Men's Bible Class, Women's Bible Class, Primary and Junior Departments, and the main floor for the Intermediate and Adult classes.  The ceiling is high with fine art glass windows and a basement which has a complete kitchen arrangement."  (The kitchen had no ventilation or running water.)

            "The Church is heated throughout with steam and the different class rooms are separated from the main room by (wood and glass) accordion doors.  The bell tower is located on the east side of the building where the main building and the Sunday School building meet."  The new bell for the church tower was loaded on Robert Herman's hay wagon drawn by his two horses and brought triumphantly into the town by the following men of the church:  George Reed, Charles Sadler, Raymond Shank, Harold Meredith, Clarence Sadler, Charles Hetrick, Fred Bream, Ed Herman, William Raby.

            The art glass windows, all memorials, were installed by the Raby Hinton and Company of New Kingstown and have the following designs:  Moses and the Law, Ruth, Come Unto Me, Good Shepherd, Gethsemane, The Resurrection; The Ascension, Christ Knocking at the Door, Rock of Ages, and the Luther window over the entrance, a memorial to Rev. W. K. Fleck who had been the pastor for twenty-five years.  The cost of the church and improvements about the lawn and parsonage next door amounted to $21,820.  The frescoe, a copy of "Three Mary's at the Tomb", original artist Adolphe William Bouguereau, was also done by Raby Hinton.  The cornerstone was laid May 12, 1912.  The dedication, September 21, 1912, was a great day, with two morning, one afternoon, and two evening services.  The last paragraph of the program reads, "The house of God will stand in the future as a strong evidence of the faith and energy of the people who desire to advance the Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ upon earth."  Services were continued through the week.

 

(1913) Lay Persons Witness and Serve . . .

            Upon moving into the new church, the Sunday School was reorganized with classes, orchestra, choir, and a thriving library.  A librarian was on duty, and books were returned and distributed each

Sunday.  The Sunday School offering from April 1, 1914 until April 1, 1915, was $234.48.  Benevolence in 1914 was $39.18 and in 1915 was $20.00.  Individual classes worked hard to reduce the debt of building the new church.  Men's and Women's Bible Classes had soup sales and suppers regularly.  Council meetings were changed from quarterly to monthly.

            When Rev. Robb resigned in 1916, Rev. Paul Y. Livingston came; he resigned in 1917.  He was followed by Rev. D. B. Treibley, Ph.D., who came in 1918 and remained until 1929.  He was well liked and was a grandfatherly type who conducted his Catechism classes in the parsonage dining room.

            In this era many lay workers served in various ministries:  W. J. Kimmel, George Shover, Jacob Wonders, and Frank Smee, as teachers of the Men's Bible Class; James Putt, Robert Gutshall, John Shover and Raymond Raudabaugh as Sunday School Superintendents; Wilmer Gill and Jesse Myers as secretary.  Jesse Myers recorded the minutes every Sunday and at other association meetings.  His minutes noted in detail the teachers, pupils, songs, offerings, and even the weather.  Jesse was also a council member who always said, "A person doesn't give an offering to the Lord until he has first given his tenth."

            Other men who were members of the Men's Bible Class were D. B. Fair, Homer Bishop, Charles Bernheisel, S. E. Raudabaugh, Elmer Snyder, Samuel Zeigler, Robert Herman, John A. Ebersole, Harvey Corman and John Shambaugh.

            L. J. Yohn played a bass violin in the Sunday School orchestra while his dog sat beside him.  John Shoemaker, who had a beautifully trained tenor voice, sang in the church choir.  William Kapp recited James Whitcomb Riley's poems at class meetings.  Among Council members of record were Ira Shover, financial secretary and Jerry Slonaker who, on one occasion, game the money he had saved for a new roof on his house, to the church.  Mary Putt followed Dan Howard (who taught her) as organist.  Helen Shoemaker, who sang soprano for fifty years, and Bessie Gill, as alto, were two of Mary Putt's choir members.  Minnie Trimble became the janitor when her husband could no longer do the work.  She was very hard of hearing so she never attended the services but always sat on a chair inside the side entrance.  She opened the church, made the furnace fire for the whole building, or a stove fire for one room, in time for meetings, rang the bell, kept the building clean, counted the silverware after every supper, and always gave her offering.

            Rev. Edward G. Brame assumed the pastorate in 1930.  Homecoming Services were held on Sunday, September 17, 1933 when former pastors returned.  In 1945 the congregation celebrated a 150th anniversary, based on the date 1795.

 

(1949)  Changes and Decisions . . .

            Upon the departure of Rev. Brame in 1949, Rev. Charles R. Stevens came in 1950.  The church was renovated, redecorated, and rededicated on September 28, 1952.  New carpet was laid in the sanctuary.  Memorials were:  eight large hanging lanterns and four small lighting installations, the altar, lectern, lectern Bible, cross, candlesticks, lighters, flower vases, candelabrums, missal stand, offering plates, credence table, communion set, Altar Service Book, altar lectern and pulpit covers, choir gowns and minister's robes.  Storm windows were installed to protect the beautiful windows.  The project cost $15,000.

            Rev. Stevens resigned April 30, 1953 and was followed by Rev. John E. Wilson.

            The Lutheran Church Women's Organization replaced the Missionary Society in 1956.

            In 1957, St. Stephen adopted the standard constitution of the Lutheran Church in America.  This Constitution eliminated the Elders and Trustees.  The Council then consisted of twelve deacons of equal rank.

            In 1959, the Moller organ was partially electrified and many pipes were added.  The cost of $4,900.00 was paid by Mrs. Elmer Snyder and Dr. and Mrs. John J. Snyder to the glory of God.

            From 1960 until the present time, every member family receives  The Lutheran magazine.

            Rev. Wilson stayed until 1960 and Rev. William C. Jacobs was installed June 18, 1961.  St. Stephen was his first charge.

            In 1961 restrooms were installed in the church.  The outdoor toilets and woodshed were torn down.  In 1963, the basement of the church was remodeled with a new kitchen and six classrooms for children.  New educational equipment and materials were purchased.  The 50th anniversary of the present building was celebrated with Rededication Services and a buffet supper on October 27, 1963.  The Rev. Dwight  Putnam, D.D., President of the Central Pennsylvania Synod of the Lutheran Church in America, was the guest speaker.  His topic was "The Church Confronts the Space Age."

 
(1965)  To Minister Boldly . . .

            In late 1965 a bold decision was made by the members of St. Stephen to separate from Churchtown and become a single parish church.  The two churches had been a joint charge since 1854.  This separation made it necessary to pay Churchtown for their share of the parsonage.  It was valued at $12,000.  St. Stephen paid them $4,000.  This took place 100 years after the parsonage was built for $1,500.  Because Pastor Jacobs did not wish to choose between the two congregations, he resigned in 1966.

            In July 1966, the new pastor, Rev. Paul Case, was called as the first pastor for the single church parish.  He had served in the Army in Germany for two years and was a school teacher before entering the Lutheran Theological Seminary in 1963.  He resigned the pastorate in November, 1967.

            Rev. Donald J. Seiple was installed as pastor on July 14, 1968.  Formerly of Felton, York County, Rev. Seiple was graduated from Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove, and the Lutheran Theological Seminary, Gettysburg.  He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and Psychology and a Bachelor of Divinity in the field of Old Testament.  Previous to his call to St. Stephen, Pastor Seiple served as Chaplain in the Elgin State Hospital, Elgin, Illinois.  Under his administration the church has moved forward in many ways.


(1976) A Community Church, Boldly Dedicated . . .

            After much deliberation, it was decided to remodel the existing Sunday School part of the building and increase the size by extending to the North.  Ground was broken August 1, 1976 as Pastor Seiple removed the first shovelful of dirt.  On January 23, 1977, a rededication was celebrated.

            The expanded educational wing of the church building stands as a testament to St. Stephen's continuing ministry to the immediate and to the worldwide community.  Built as an affirmation to the future of the community and as a response to the growing membership -- the congregation has grown from 229 baptized and 100 communing members in 1968 to 400 baptized and 253 communing members in 1985 -- this wing of the church is the hub of the ongoing educational and outreach ministries.

            The weekly Educational Ministry programs address the spiritual, intellectual, developmental, and fellowship needs of the participants of all ages.  The Sunday Church School, the Vacation Church School, and the Confirmation Ministry programs help all members to grow in faith and to challenge the secular world in which we live.  St. Stephen professes that education is a vital ministry to all members.

            The St. Stephen Lutheran congregation has responded to the needs of the community around it.  Since 1969 the church has sponsored the New Kingstown area's Boy Scouting program; since 1974 the congregation has provided the leadership for the Ironstone Ridge Nature Center; since 1979 the congregation's facilities have served as a seat of a community day care center.  In the last decade refugees from Uganda and from Viet Nam have found resettlement and new lives under the care and concern of St. Stephen and its members.

            Organizations such as the Lutheran Church Women and the Altar Guild, ongoing programs such as Youth Ministries, specialized groups such as senior and junior choirs and liturgical folk groups, annual events such as a mother-daughter or a father-son banquet or a community apple festival, children's musicals or theatrical productions all serve a single function:  to involve actively community members in the work of our Lord.

            Under the shepherding guidance of Pastor Seiple, the ministry of St. Stephen Lutheran Church has evolved into a vital ministry of the laity.  In worship services, in retreat settings, in educational classes and activities, in committee sessions, in fellowship events, this congregation epitomizes and practices the priesthood of all believers.  With capable lay leaders the church continues to live and to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.

            In June, 1999, Rev. Kevin T. Shively, born and raised in York County, was called as Pastor to lead the congregation into the next century.  Pastor Shively left the call in February 2002.  After a year and a half of interim pastors, the congregation was pleased to call Rev. John Teitman.  Pastor John came from a congregation in Lebanon, PA.

            With nearly 2,000 years of Christian example, with nearly 500 years of Lutheran heritage, and with 225 years of loving, serving ancestors witnessing to this community, St. Stephen Lutheran Church continues to serve God and to love mankind.

 

            WE PROCLAIM . . . The mission of St. Stephen Lutheran Church is to be a community of faith which strives to proclaim the Good News of God's loving presence by . . .

            . . . Preaching, teaching and sharing God's Word and Sacrament;
            . . . Providing opportunities for repentance, forgiveness, prayer, praise, and thanksgiving;
            . . . Being sensitive to other's needs and concerns, reaching out in loving service to the congregation, the local community, and the world;
            . . . Creating an environment that fosters fellowship, compassion, mutual acceptance, and  opportunities for personal growth;
            . . . Supporting each individual in the development and use of his/her God-given talents in service to God and the community.

            As a loving response to God who first loves us, this congregation shall boldly approach these ministries inspired and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

 
Sources of Information:

1.  Old records stored in the Archives at Gettysburg Theological Seminary
2.  1731 History of Cumberland County - Rev. Conway P. Wing, D.D., 1879
3.  Atlas of Cumberland County - F. W. Beers, 1872

Please note: New information will be added to this history as a part of St. Stephen's 250th Anniversary Celebrations in 2017.  Check back often.

 

 

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