History of Bethel U.C.C.
Bethel Church had its beginning when a number of persons representing the Reformed, Lutheran, Methodist, Episcopal, and Evangelical faiths in the community organized what was known as the “Union Prayer Meeting Association.” To this organization, Jacob Spangler and his wife, Lucinda, on December 24, 1872, donated the tract of land on which was erected the brick church building which is still located in Smith Station and is now known as “Smith’s Station Chapel.” In erecting the church building, John Rebert prepared the logs, William Spangler carried the bricks, and Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Hamme furnished the meals for the workmen.

     Each of the faiths constituting the original organization appointed trustees to represent their rights in the building. As time went on these trustees died or moved away until only the Reformed people continued their representation.

     In the autumn of 1896, during a great storm, the southern gable of the building was blown in. In order to make the necessary repairs and to be secure in their rights to the property. The Reformed people secured a release from each of the other faiths originally sharing in the building. Thus, the property came under complete jurisdiction of the Reformed Church and they alone repaired the building damaged by the storm. The Bethel Reformed Congregation was originated by the Rev. Jacob Sechler on June 29, 1873, and they became a part of what was then known as the Manheim Charge sharing ministry with Lischey’s. St. David’s and St. Bartholomew’s congregations. After ten years (1883) Bethel, with St. Paul’s, Lischey’s and Spring Grove became the Lischey’s Charge. This charge continued for seventeen years until 1900, when the West Manheim Charge was formed and Bethel ,St. Paul’s (Dub’s), St. David’s (Sherman’s) and St. Bartholomew’s churches shared ministries. This partnership continued for seventy-seven years when on February 1, 1978 the Marburg Charge of the United Church of Christ was formed consisting of Bethel and St. David’s (Sherman’s) congregations.


A New Look:

     The two congregations maintained a partnership until April 7, 1984 when Bethel United Church of Christ voted to dissolve the Charge. Bethel Church called the Rev. Jeff Welsh to serve as its first full-time Pastor.

     In 1931, Rev.. Edwin Sando led a major improvement project for the church building. With the help of the congregation, the following improvements were made:


      Primary Sunday School room
      Tower with a bell
      New pulpit recess
      New hot-air heating plant installed
      Art glass windows
      Interior walls were redecorated
      New pulpit furniture and pews
      New chairs for choir and primary room
      Concrete walks, steps and curbing

      All of the improvements were made at a total cost of $5600.00

      The art glass windows were certainly the highlight of the improvements. These windows were moved into the new church building in 1980. Below was the cost of each window and their location in the current church:
 
Window Cost Placement
Good Shepherd Window $175.00 Chancel
Auditorium Window (7) $ 45.00 Sanctuary and Nursery Classroom
Transom Window $ 36.00 Fellowship Hall
Sunday School (2) $ 24.25 Sanctuary Closet Room and Back Stairs
Pulpit Recess $ 19.50 Classroom #4 and Hallway
Tower Window (2) $ 9.00 Classroom #4 and Main Stairwell
Circle Window (3) $ 9.50 Not used
Circle Window (1) $ 9.50 Breezeway

     The rededication services were held on Sunday, August 16, 1931 with Sunday School at 1:00 p.m. and service at 2:00 p.m. The Rev. Dr. George S. Sorber, Pastor of Bethany Reformed Church, York, preached the sermon.


A Move to the Suburbs:

     By the time of the 100th anniversary in June, 1973, Bethel UCC had grown in size. A parcel of land of about four acres, located 0.25 mile northeast of Smith Station, had been purchased and a building committee was appointed. The first donations to the Building Fund were given in 1967 consisting of $500.00 from Bethel Sunday School and $93.51 from individual contributors.

     The ground breaking ceremony was held on March 23, 1980. Ground wasa turned over by the oldest member at that time, Mrs. Lilli Dubs and brief statements were made by the pastor, Consistory President, Finance Chairman and Building Chairman. The foundation was dug and a footer was laid in April. Most of the labor was supplied by church members. The basement floor was poured in May, floor joists and frame work laid in June and on June 27, the rafters were in place. The roof was completed in July and brickwork was completed during the late summer. The interior work was completed in September and October. The well was dug on October 17, 1980.

     The 1980 cornerstone was put in place on October 26th as Pastor Horn conducted the service. On November 22nd the remarkable task of transporting the Good Shepherd window took place on the back of Ralph Allison’s truck. Plastering was completed in December. The lights, lecterns and pews were in place by December 22nd. The first service took place on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1980. Despite inclement weather, the church pews were full and extra chairs had to be carried into the sanctuary to accommodate everyone in attendance. The dedication service was held on March 22, 1981 with the Rev. Tyson, L. Frey, son of Bethel Church and The Rev. Ralph J. Mehler, president of the Gettysburg Association conducting the service.


The Pavilion:

      For many years, Bethel UCC used a pavilion owned by Robert and Rudy Thoman for their outings and annual Sunday School picnic. During the winter of 1996, too much snowfall occurred for the pavilion, causing it to collapse. The Thoman’s decided not to rebuild the pavilion in “Thoman’s Woods.” In April, 1996, ground-breaking took place for a new pavilion to be located on top of the hill to the west of the church building. Construction took place by the church members and a dedication service was held on June 23, 1996. This pavilion hosts numerous outdoor church functions, including outdoor services during the summer and fall of each year.

     In addition to the pavilion, a concrete sidewalk was installed to the pavilion. Also, a memorial garden just to the east of the pavilion was constructed consisting with flower beds, bushes, an altar and flagpole.


The Canopy:

     Planning began in 2003 for the construction of a canopy over the main entrance of the sanctuary. The purpose of the canopy would be to unload church-goers under roof during inclement weather. Construction of the canopy began in March, 2004 with the project completed in June, 2004. As all of the projects completed at the original church in Smith Station and the current building, the majority of the canopy work was completed by church members.

Our Pastors:

The Rev. Jacob Sechler 1873-1880
The Rev. Henry Hilbish 1880-1884
The Rev. John H. Hartman 1884-1920
The Rev. Edwin M. Sando 1920-1945
The Rev. Harvey M. Light 1945-1971
The Rev. Leroy C. Deardorff 1968-1971 Associate Director of Education
The Rev. Andrew Horn 1971-1983
The Rev. Phil Nace 1984-1985 (Interim)
The Rev. Jeff Welsh 1985-1987
The Rev. Art Zeigler 1987-1989 (Interim)
The Rev. Lou Ann Jones 1989- 2014
The Rev. David Danneberger 2014-2016 (Interim)
The Rev. Susan Fritz 2016 -
 

 

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