Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Our Heritage

By Milton Loyer, Conference Archivist

May - 100 years ago
The Firwood Methodist Episcopal Church of Wilkes-Barre, a store remodeled into a sanctuary, was dedicated May 30, 1915. The work began in June 1912 as a Sunday school meeting in a vacant store in a newer section of Wilkes-Barre that had been developing for several years. Later in the summer local preachers began adding preaching services, and in the fall a congregation was formed. After searching for a suitable building site for two years without success, the congregation decided to purchase the store in which they had been meeting. The purchase was finalized in January and the completely remodeled structure was dedicated in May. In 1920, in anticipation of expanding the facility, a large lot adjacent to the church was purchased. In 1927 the old church was removed and a new structure, the present Firwood UMC, was erected and dedicated July 1, 1928. In June 1972 the church was caught in the aftermath of hurricane Agnes. Flood waters filled the basement, were 10 feet high in the sanctuary, and reached into the second floor of the educational rooms. It wasn’t until November 1973 that the congregation was able to worship again in the sanctuary. This year this active congregation celebrates the 100th anniversary of its first building with a membership of more than 400.

June - 50 years ago
The first session of the Susquehanna Conference of the Evangelical United Brethren Church met June 7-10, 1965, at First EUB Church in Carlisle. The Conference had been created at a Uniting Session the previous fall of the denomination’s Central Pennsylvania (former Evangelical) and Pennsylvania (former United Brethren) Conferences. In 1968 that body became the Susquehanna Conference of the United Methodist Church, and in 1970 it participated in a total realignment of the state’s former Methodist and EUB Conferences to become part of the new Central Pennsylvania Conference UMC. In the prevailing spirit of unity, the new Susquehanna Conference formally recognized three new congregations created that year by three different types of union.

In Bellefonte, Centre County, the Grace (former United Brethren) and Trinity (former Evangelical) congregations united to form what is now Faith UMC.
Outside of Port Trevorton, Snyder County, the Witmers East (former United Evangelical) and Witmers West (former Evangelical Association) congregations united after more than seven decades of less than friendly competition to form what is now Witmers UMC.

In Centre Hall, Centre County, the Methodist, Presbyterian, and EUB congregations united to form a single EUB church that is now Grace UMC.

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