Monday, February 22, 2016

Our Heritage

By Dr. Milton Loyer, Conference Archivist 

January – 100 years ago
Evangelist W. E. Biederwolf was a slightly more refined contemporary of the more noted Billy Sunday. Although a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, he played college football and shared Sunday’s passion for athleticism, prohibition, and patriotism. As reported 100 years ago in Methodism’s The Christian Advocate: “The Biederwolf Evangelistic Campaign at York met expected and designed opposition in certain ecclesiastical quarters that dominate that community, yet the results are felt widely in the churches. On January 2 [1916] some of the subjects of this effort were gathered in – First Church received 59 members, Duke Street received 30, Ridge Avenue received 30, West Street received 28, and Epworth received 7.” Four of those five former Methodist Episcopal congregations now exist within vital York area United Methodist churches. First is now Asbury UMC. Duke Street relocated and is now Aldersgate UMC. West Street and Epworth united to relocate from the present Calvary UMC.

February – 50 years ago
The Methodist and Evangelical United Brethren denominations joined to form the United Methodist Church in 1968 – but the churches in Centre County’s Penns Valley were ahead of the curve. On February 22, 1966, the Methodist and EUB congregations in Spring Mills voted overwhelmingly to become the Faith United Methodist Church – taking the name of the former EUB congregation and worshiping in the former Methodist building. This was actually the final of three actions agreed upon by area congregations. Previously, the Tusseyville EUB congregation had voted 28-3 to become the Bethany Methodist Church of Tusseyville. Each of those actions was prompted by an earlier re-organization of efforts in the community of Centre Hall – where the former Presbyterian (45 members), Methodist (85 members) and EUB (125 members) congregations came together to form Grace United Church of Centre Hall. The new congregation would be part of the EUB denomination and worship in the former Presbyterian building. The final result of this ecumenical endeavor was a more efficient arrangement of two spread-out three-point charges and a struggling Presbyterian church into one EUB station appointment (Centre Hall) and one compact three-point Methodist charge (Spring Mills, Tusseyville, and Sprucetown).

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