Thursday, April 3, 2014

Our heritage

By Milton Loyer, Conference Archivist

March - 100 years ago
The 1914 Annual Session of the Central Pennsylvania Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, March 18-24, at Grace Church in Harrisburg, was the first Methodist conference attended by supply pastor Edward J. Croft, recruited by Harrisburg District Superintendent Augustus S. Fasick, to serve the Harrisonville charge in Fulton County. “Harrisonville had no pastor … I went over to see what could be done. I found a man whom God seems to have called. He was postmaster, store-keeper, and blacksmith at Dane. I took him with me over the circuit on Sunday. He accepted the appointment, closing his shop, his wife taking care of the store and post-office. He was not a Methodist, but a local preacher in the United Brethren Church … God bless him and the county in which he works, from which more preachers have come into this Conference than from any other county in the state.”

The son of a United Brethren pastor, Croft served the six-point Harrisonville Charge for nine years – erecting church buildings at Mt. Zion and Needmore. He then served at Concord, Fort Loudon, York Springs, and Blain for another 19 years – putting in 28 continuous years as an effective supply pastor for Methodism. After retiring to Markes in 1941, he served for brief periods of time at Burnt Cabins, Hustontown, Harrisonville, Neelyton, East Waterford, and Bendersville before dying in 1956.

April - 50 years ago
The Central Pennsylvania Conference (former Evangelical) of the Evangelical United Brethren Church began its Annual Sessions April 28, 1964, at Zion EUB Church [now Zion UMC] in York. The agenda included two items relating to denominational unions.

(1) The Conference approved a Plan and Basis of Union with the Pennsylvania Conference (former United Brethren) that, if approved by the Pennsylvania Conference at its Annual Session in October, would unite the two bodies and end the existence of two overlapping conferences that had been in place since the denominational union of 1946. Later that year, in November 1964, the two conferences formally united to form the Susquehanna Conference.

(2) The Conference approved a plan to place Witmer’s First (former Evangelical Association) from the Selinsgrove Charge and Witmer’s East (former United Evangelical) from the Hummel’s Wharf Charge together as a two-point charge. This ended the existence of two churches in the same denomination that were directly across the road from each other, being on two different charges since the denominational union of 1922 – when two competing denominations put aside past differences, but two competing congregations would not. Later that year, in December 1964, the Witmer’s First church burned down and the two congregations formally united to erect the present Witmers UMC.

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