Calvary Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Middletown, Pennsylvania was organized on the 24th of June 1936. The organization, under the leadership of The Rev. Robert S. Marsden, developed because of the determination of a group of about 63 Christians to maintain the purity of the Reformed Faith and historic Presbyterianism at a time when Modernism had crept into the church.
Mr. Marsden was called to be the first pastor of Calvary Church and the church grew to an adult membership of 92 during his pastorate. The first Worship service and Sunday School were conducted on June 28, 1936 in a local theater. Later services were held in an old post office building on South Union Street, Middletown, for 4 years.
In July of 1936, Mr. Marsden was called to serve on The Home and Foreign Missions Committees of the Denomination, and in 1936 The Rev. Edward L. Kellogg came to assist in the local congregation. In the fall of 1939 Mr. Marsden resigned to devote full time as the General Secretary for the Missions work, and Mr. Kellogg was installed as pastor on December 10, 1939.
On November 24, 1940, a colonial building was dedicated at the church’s present location. This structure has served as the house of worship since that date to the present. In 1944 the facilities were further utilized when the Christian School of Middletown was granted the use of the basement for classrooms. Also, during Mr. Kellogg’s pastorate a branch Sunday School was started at the Olmsted Housing development. In 1946 Mr. Kellogg resigned to accept a call to become pastor of the Immanuel Orthodox Presbyterian Church of West Collingswood, New Jersey.
A significant event in the history of Calvary Church occurred on June 30, 1946 when a special Tenth Anniversary Service was conducted. At this time all indebtedness against the church property was liquidated. A special brochure “The First Ten Years” was also published.
On October 6, 1946, The Robert L. Atwell was installed as the third pastor. During Mr. Atwell’s pastorate, a two-story Christian Education building was constructed in 1948 at a cost of $17,000. Again, Calvary Church granted the Christian School use of these additional facilities.
In addition to the Sunday School at Olmsted Homes, worship services were started in the Community Building of the Housing Project. Mr. Thomas Kay, an elder of Calvary Church, assisted in this branch work. This work was so successful that the Sunday School attendance equaled that of Calvary. On January 2, 1952, Mr. Atwell resigned to accept a call to Calvary Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Glenside, PA.
The Rev. Robley J. Johnston was called to be the fourth pastor and was installed September 29, 1952. For the first time in the history of the church a manse was purchased in 1952 in the Oak Hills area for the use of the pastor. By this time the adult church membership had doubled compared to 1936. On June 24, 1954, Mr. Johnston resigned to accept the position of General Secretary of The Committee on Christian Education of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, PA.
The fifth pastor of the church, The Rev. Robert H. Graham was called in November 1955 and his installation occurred January 20, 1956.
Prior to Mr. Graham’s arrival in Middletown, the present manse property at 37 N. Race Street, was purchased to provide a larger home for the pastor. During Mr. Graham’s pastorate a Branch Sunday School was operated in the Oak Hills area. The church had now grown to the point where duplicate morning worship services were necessary. The need for additional space for Worship, Sunday School, and the Middletown Christian School, prompted the selection of a Building Committee to plan for a new building. Mr. Graham was active in promoting and serving on this committee. On July 9, 1961, Mr. Graham resigned to accept a call to the Bayview Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Chula Vista, California.
In April 1962, Calvary Church called Mr. George W. Hall, Jr. to become the sixth pastor. After graduation from Westminster Theological Seminary, he began his duties here in July 1962. Rev. Hall was immediately elected to the Building Committee and was very active in bringing the building program to its successful conclusion.
A branch Sunday School was operated for a number of years at the Shope Gardens Development by church families serving as teachers and leaders.
In September 1972 the Rev. Abe W. Ediger was installed as Calvary’s seventh pastor. During his pastorate the church participated in the denomination’s intern program from 1977 to 1981, supporting and providing training to five interns and families each for a one-year period. In October 1981 Calvary Church held a special weekend celebration for its forty-fifth anniversary and at this time the mortgage was retired and the church was cleared of all debt. Pastor Ediger resigned effective August 1, 1982, to accept a call by the home missions committee to serve as organizing pastor with the OPC in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
On January 2, 1983, the Rev. Albert W. Steever, Jr., began his ministry in Calvary Church. Mr. Steever was installed February 25, 1983 as Calvary’s eighth minister. During Rev. Steever’s pastorate the church became more aware of the problems of the elderly and shut-ins. An electric chairlift was installed to help those who have difficulty walking up the steps to the sanctuary. Rev. Steever was very involved in visitations to the nursing and retirement homes. Pastor Steever resigned effective June 1993.
The following is the letter written by Rev. Robert S. Marsden on June 15, 1936.
As many of you know, I have announced to the congregation of the Presbyterian Church of Middletown my intention of resigning as the pastor of that church, my active ministry to cease at the end of this month. I have also announced my intention of withdrawing from the ministry of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., in order that I may become a minister in the Presbyterian Church of America, which was organized to continue the Spiritual succession of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., a church which I feel to have become definitely and finally apostate.
It occurred to me that every member of our church in Middletown should know the reason for my action, and I am including in the mailing list for this letter the names of many friends whom I know will be deeply concerned over the situation in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.
It would obviously be impossible for me to trace the whole history of the present apostasy, but it suffices to say that it had its genesis toward the end of the last century when the camels of unbelief were permitted to put their heads into the tents of faith, and they have now taken complete possession of those tents. I shall simply cite to you as succinctly as possible five immediate reasons for the action I am taking, although there are many subsidiary reasons.
- THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF 1936 DECLARED THE AUBURN AFFIRMATION TO BE NOT HERETICAL. A little over a decade ago some 1300 ministers of the Presbyterian Church signed a statement to the effect that five cardinal doctrines of our faith, including the verbal inspiration of the Scripture, the Virgin Birth of Christ, the miracles of Christ, the Vicarious Atonement of Christ and His bodily resurrection were not essential to Christianity. To my knowledge none of these 1300 has repudiated that statement. A committee of the General Assembly appointed to visit the Presbytery of Philadelphia reported that it found “no evidence of any theological heresy that could in justice be called un-Presbyterian” in the Presbytery, despite the fact that the Moderator of that Presbytery and a number of other members are signers of the Affirmation. The Assembly accepted the report of the committee with few dissenting votes.The only Bible I know IS the inspired Word of God, and reveals a Christ who was born of a Virgin, who performed miracles, who dies to satisfy Divine justice, who was raised from the dead the third day with the same body in which he suffered. To such blasphemy, which declares that the Auburn Affirmation is not heresy, I can have no part.
- THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY PLACED ITS OWN AUTHORITY ABOVE THAT OF THE WORD OF GOD. The General Assembly of 1936 declared officially that when its own mandates conflict with the Word of God, its mandates must be obeyed rather than the word. The General Assemblies of 1934 and 1935 ordered certain ministers, elders and laymen to withdraw from the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions. This Board has been formed, not as an agency of the Presbyterian Church but independently, as are a score of other mission boards on which Presbyterians serve. It was formed not to carry on general missions, but Presbyterian Missions,
the word “Presbyterian” referring to no particular one of a dozen “Presbyterian” communions. The work of the Board was founded on the Word of God, a contention which none has denied. Without going into all the merits of the Board, it suffices to say that when these men and women chose to obey the Word rather than the mandates of the General Assembly they were deposed from the ministry, eldership, or the church, and in one case, excommunicated, a penalty reserved for the most hardened and confirmed sinners. A church, which has no room for those to whom God has so obviously approved, has no room for me.
- THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY DENIED THE RIGHT OF MINISTERS TO CRITICIZE THE CHURCH. The Rev. John DeWaard of Cedar Grove, Wisconsin, some time ago published a pamphlet in which he criticized, with references, the work of the Board of Christian Education. Without disproving the statements Mr. DeWaard made, Presbytery ordered him to cease and criticizing in public and in private the Boards of the Church on penalty of losing his church. Mr. DeWaard would not promise to cease telling that which was obviously true of the work of the Boards, and against the protests of nearly 90% of his members he was barred from his church. General Assembly upheld the action of the Presbytery. If a minister can be ordered by a Presbytery to refrain from telling the truth, I can no longer be a minister in that Church.
- THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY UPHELD THE RIGHT OF THE PRESBYTERIES TO DEMAND THAT MINISTERS AND ELDERS SUPPORT THE BOARDS AND AGENCIES OF THE CHURCH REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THE POLICIES OF THESE AGENCIES ARE CONTRARY TO THE WORD OF GOD. Mr. John W. Fulton was licensed to preach the Gospel and ordained to the Gospel Ministry by the Presbytery of Philadelphia, although he would promise to support the Boards and agencies of the Church only when their actions were in accordance with the Word of God. This action of the Presbytery in ordaining Mr. Fulton was companied of by a minority of that Presbytery, and the Synod of Pennsylvania ordered Mr. Fulton’s ordination annulled. General Assembly upheld the action of the Synod and deposed Mr. Fulton from the ministry. In a similar case a few years ago when the Presbytery of New York ordained a man who did not believe in the Virgin Birth, General Assembly did not order the annulment of his ordination, stating that was contrary to Presbyterian practice. With regards to elders, the Presbytery of Donegal passed a ruling that all elders ordained must support the Boards and agencies of the church regardless of what their policies now or in the future may be. General Assembly upheld this ruling. I cannot remain a minister in a church if I must promise to support any human agency whether its policies are in accord with the Word of God or not.
- THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY DECLARED OFFICIALLY THAT CHURCH MEMBERS ARE UNDER THE SAME OBLIGATION TO SUPPORT THE BOARDS AND AGENCIES OF THE CHURCH AS TO “BELIEVE IN CHRIST AND KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS.” The full enunciation of this principle will be found in the Minutes of the General Assembly, 1934, Page 113. This is blasphemy. To put the orders of the General Assembly on a par with the commandment of Christ “this do in remembrance of me” shocks the very heart of every
Christian. I can have no part in a Church that places its own program on a par with the Word of God. You will see clearly how impossible it is for me to remain within the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. When I became a minister I said that I believed the Bible to be the inspired Word of God, the ONLY infallible rule of faith and practice. If I believe that to be true, and I do believe it with all my heart, I cannot longer remain within the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. It is with great sorrow that I am constrained to obey the injunction of the Apostle, when in writing to the Corinthian Church to free itself from apostasy and false teaching he tells the Corinthian Christians, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you.” (2 Cor. 6:17) I could remain a minister of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. only if I were to keep quiet concerning this terrible evil in the church. Though I should bear the title and assume the functions of a minister if I should accept that condition, I should cease to be a minister of Christ in the Biblical sense. Though I should be a minister in name, I should be daily denying the Lord who purchased my whole being with his precious Blood, and to whom I have dedicated my whole life. Such a life would never be happy or blessed and would merit the condemnation of Him whose commendation I crave. To withdraw from the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. and to become a minister in the Presbyterian Church of America I know to be God’s will for my life, and I cannot sincerely do otherwise than obey his will. Trusting that you will sympathetically understand the step I am taking, and assuring you that I will welcome correspondence from any of you on the subject, and with all best wishes, I am
Your friend, /s/ Robert S. Marsden.
The First Meeting
On Tuesday Evening, June 16th, 1936, a group of members of the Presbyterian Church of Middletown, were called together at the home of Mr. & Mrs. Lewis W. Roberts, in an informal meeting, there being twenty-seven members present.
The meeting was called to order by Mr. Roberts, who assumed the office of chairman.
The meeting was opened by prayer, several persons participating.
Mr. Roberts stated he wished to make two matters clear, before going into any discussion, the first being that he assumed all responsibility for calling the meeting, the action having been taken after consulting with a few other people on the matter. The second was that he wished this meeting to be very informal and wished that each one present would feel free to express his or her opinions on any matters which came up for discussion.
Mr. Roberts stated that the purpose of calling the meeting was in regard to Rev. Marsden’s announcement of his resignation and it was the opinion of those with whom he had talked that it might be well to attempt to determine just what the reaction of a number of people had been to this resignation, and principally to the reasons for the action. The letter which Rev. Marsden had circulated that same day was made the basis for discussion, the same being read aloud for the benefit of those who had not received their copy of same.
A period of discussion followed the reading of the letter, in which numerous questions were raised by those present, these being answered to the apparent satisfaction of the persons raising the questions. It was, however, the consensus of opinion among those present that the assertions made in Rev. Marsden’s letter and in his statement from the pulpit on Sunday could not be denied, or proven to be false, and that it had been admitted by a few persons who felt they were able to judge rightly, that the statements themselves were correct but that it would have been better not to voice them, inasmuch as by doing so it would no doubt cause dissention on the part of the people, the final outcome which would be questionable.
Some discussion then followed as to the merits of the men who had been put out of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., by the last General Assembly of that Church, and as to what the prospects were for securing a Minister in any Presbyterian Church who would take a definite stand for the fundamental principles of Presbyterianism and Christianity, inasmuch as doing so would mean that he would necessarily have to criticize certain agencies of the Church, with the result that he would no doubt meet the same fate as those men met at the last General Assembly in Syracuse. It was suggested that the type of minister who could be secured to fill the pulpit vacated by Rev. Marsden would in all probability be unsatisfactory to those of us present.
It was suggested by one person present that apparently the only thing left for those of us who felt that we no longer wished to support a church which tolerates those things which are tolerated by the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. to do, would be to withdraw from said church. The question was then raised by several people as to what the prospects would be if we were to withdraw from the present church.
At this point Mr. Grove, who had attended the General Assembly of the newly organized Presbyterian Church of America, at Philadelphia, from June 11th to 13th, gave quite a lengthy report on just what happened at this General Assembly. He explained many things which happened at the meeting, pointing out numerous things which were done and plans which were adopted, which differed from the way in which the same things had been done in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., stating that they tried to correct many things which they felt had been wrong in the latter organization. He explained many of the problems which confront the new church and how they are being dealt with by the General Assembly, but the one thing which he emphasized the most was that while the Presbyterian Church in America is starting out with new organization it is in reality not a new church but merely the organization of a group to carry on the fundamental beliefs and doctrines of true historic Presbyterianism. He also pointed out the qualifications of the men who are taking the lead in the new organization and that they are all men who have been approved of God and on whom he has placed his stamp of approval, this being evidenced by the fact that in almost every case they are pastors of comparatively large congregations, in spite of the fact that in many cases it will mean the sacrificing of thousands of dollars which they have invested in their church properties.
Following this there was another period of general discussion, which was culminated by the statement on the part of several present that they had definitely made up their minds that they could not and would not remain in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. after the resignation of Rev. Marsden. Others objected to this stand and some were neutral.
The desire was then expressed on the part of several to discuss rather definitely the possibilities of starting a new church, and the Chairman stated that inasmuch as it was getting rather late and there were some present who evidently did not wish to commit themselves at the present time, he would declare a short recess in which any persons desiring to leave the meeting could do so, and those desiring to stay for further discussion should remain. The meeting was resumed with nineteen persons remaining.
The discussion was then very definitely along the lines of the formation of a new church, under the Presbyterian Church of America. Various and sundry items were discussed, such as a meeting place, finances, the possibility of Rev. Marsden accepting the call to be pastor of such a group and numerous other things relative to such a movement.
A resolution was then made that those present announce their intention of withdrawing from the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., effective as of the date of the resignation of Mr. Marsden, that the Chairman appoint a committee to interview Mr. Marsden to determine whether or not he would accept a call from the group to be their minister, providing enough interest was shown in the movement, and if the outcome of their interview was satisfactory, to call a meeting for Friday evening, at a time and place to be determined by the Committee, the Committee to use its discretion as to whom should be invited to this meeting. This resolution was adopted unanimously.
The Chairman asked Mrs. Carl Hess, Mrs. S. B. Shoop, and Mr. Rene Grove to act on a committee with him to interview Rev. Marsden.
The meeting was then adjourned with a prayer.
June 24, 1936
A body of Christian people met at the home of Rev. Robert S. Marsden, on Wednesday Evening, June 24th 1936, for the purpose of organizing a new church to be associated with the newly organized Presbyterian Church of America.
This meeting was the outgrowth of two previous meetings, one of which was held at the home of Mr. & Mrs. Lewis W. Roberts, on Tuesday evening, June 16th, 1936, at which time nineteen persons indicated that they could not and would not longer remain in the Presbyterian Church of the U.S.A. after the termination of the ministry of Rev. Marsden and expressed the desire [to] investigate the possibility of organizing a new church at this point. The other meeting was called by the committee which was appointed to interview Rev. Marsden, at the meeting on Tuesday evening, and was held at the home of Rev. Marsden, on Friday evening, June 19th. At this latter meeting, at which there were about sixty-five present, a much larger number indicated their intention of following the action decided upon on Tuesday evening. It was announced at this meeting that if Presbytery should refuse to allow Mr. Marsden to occupy the pulpit on Sunday, June 28th, the organization meeting for the new church would be held on Wednesday evening, June 24th. This action was taken by the Presbytery of Carlisle at its meeting on Monday, June 22nd and notice was immediately sent out definitely calling the organization meeting for Wednesday, June 24th, 1936.
The meeting was opened up with hymn, “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus,” led by Rev. Marsden, which was followed by reading of Scripture by Rev. Marsden and prayers by the congregation. The period of prayer was closed by Lewis W. Roberts.
Lewis W. Roberts acted as temporary chairman of the meeting, until such time as certain resolutions could be adopted necessary to the calling of a pastor.
It was announced that the first services of the new church would be held on Sunday, June 28th, in the Elks Theater, with Sunday School at 10:00 A.M. and Church at 11:00 A.M. and 7:30 P.M.
Mr. Roberts then announces that it had been suggested that we should send a Committee to the Church on Sunday evening, June 28th to hear and report on the messages to be delivered by Dr. Walker and Mr. Richards, who were to come to the old church and answer the accusations made by Rev. Marsden concerning the apostasy of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. This suggestion was adopted unanimously and Mr. & Mrs. Ira Springer, Mrs. Mich, Miss Edith Hickernell, and Miss Kathy Weaver were appointed, Miss Weaver and Miss Hickernell being stenographers, who were instructed to take their messages verbatim.
Rev. Marsden then agreed that he would answer any assertions made by either of these men at a meeting to be held at his home the following Wednesday evening, at which time the committee would report on what transpired at the meeting on Sunday evening. This meeting was to be public and everyone was invited to attend that might be at all interested.
The Chairman announced that for the time being there would be two forms of membership, namely, Active Membership and Associate Membership. The condition of membership was outlines as follows:
Active Members: Those who were ready immediately to sever their membership in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., and to become full members in the Presbyterian Church of America.
Associate Members: Those who intend to sever their membership in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., but who for some reason are not ready immediately to do so, but who wish to take part in the meeting, with the exception that they would not have power to vote, the Associate Members to become Active Members on Just 1st, unless they indicated their desire to have their names withdrawn.
Cards were distributed to be signed by those desiring to become members, fifty persons signing cards for active members and five for associate members.
The following resolution was adopted unanimously by those signing active membership cards:
“Resolved, that we do here and now sever any and all connections which we may have with the Presbyterian Church of Middletown and with the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.”
The following resolution was also adopted unanimously by the active members:
“Resolved, That we do here and now constitute ourselves to the Calvary Presbyterian Church of Middletown, under the Presbyterian Church of America”.
The following resolution was adopted by those who had signed cards as Associate Members:
“Resolved, that we intend to sever any and all connections which we may have with the Presbyterian Church of Middletown and with the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., unless something unforeseen occurs and that we desire to become associate members of the Calvary Presbyterian Church of the Presbyterian Church of America.”
Another resolution was adopted by both Active and Associate members as follows:
“Resolved, that neither the Calvary Presbyterian Church of the Presbyterian Church of America, nor any of its organizations or members has any connection with the church that calls itself the Presbyterian Church of Middletown and that neither the Presbyterian Church of Middletown, nor any of its officers, or the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. or any of its officers or courts has any jurisdiction over any of the affairs of the Calvary Presbyterian Church.”
The following resolution was adopted unanimously:
“Resolved, That the Calvary Presbyterian Church proceed to call Rev. Robert S. Marsden as its Minister.”
The formal call from the congregation to Rev. Robert S. Marsden was then read by the Chairman, a copy of which is made a part of these minutes.
Rev. Marsden accepted the call with great pleasure and then assumed the Chairmanship of the meeting.
A motion was then passed to elect two elders and two trustees for the present, with the possibility of adding more officers in the near future, as the new church gets better under way. The officers are to serve three years, their terms of office expiring at different years. They will decide themselves who shall serve two and who shall serve three years.
Mr. Rene D. Grove and Mr. Lewis W. Roberts were nominated for the office of Ruling Elders, and, there being no further nominations, were declared elected.
Mr. Dexter Allen and Mr. Frederick Plasterer were nominated for the office of Trustees. There being no further nominations they were also declared elected.
A committee was then appointed to see all Sunday School members who might be interested in joining the new Sunday School. Mrs. Hess, Mrs. Martin, Mrs. Alleman, and Mr. John Meashey were appointed to serve on this committee.
Rev. Marsden agreed to lead the Sunday School for the present until such time as a Superintendent could be found and elected.
Rev. Marsden, together with the Elders and Trustees, were appointed to investigate a meeting place, and authorized to lease any place they deemed suitable for our purposes.
There were sixty-three present at this meeting.
Upon proper motion the meeting adjourned, with prayer by Rev. Marsden.
Signed - Edith Hickernell Sec. Pro Tem.
I remember that beautiful Sabbath morning in June 1936, 60 years ago, when my sisters and brother John and I were walking to church. The Bradleys were behind us. We came to the fork where we had to turn either to the right or left. The left turn took us to the old Post Office and the right went to the Presbyterian Church. We, of course, turned left and the Bradleys came up to us and said they were wondering which road we would take and were so delighted that we chose to leave the old church and make our stand for the truth of Scriptures.
– Millie (Brinser) Berkheimer
I remember coming home from Sunday service from the Old Presbyterian Church on Corner Water and Union Streets in June 1936. I was a senior in high school. My mother said, “we are leaving church under the leadership of Rev. Robert Marsden and starting Calvary Presbyterian Church”. I’m not sure how many we had, including grown-ups and children. We first met for a couple of weeks at Elks Theater on Emaus St. Then we met for a time at the other movie theater on Union Street on lower side of Klahr’s Jewelry store. We then moved to the Old Post Office building on Union Street where Pizza Parlor has a store now. We stayed there until 1940. We worked very hard there cleaning and painting to make the building suitable for a church. In 1938 Rev. Marsden became General Secretary of Home and Foreign Missions and Rev. Ed Kellogg came to help as our minister. We then moved to the new Colonial Chapel Spruce and Emaus Streets in 1940. Rev. Kellogg left in 1946.
– Florence (Shader) McCoy
The Early Years of Calvary OPC, Middletown, PA as told by Charter Members Vera (Plasterer) Lenker and Edith (Hickernell) Kagan:
Vera Lenker and Edith Kagan were in the choir in the old USA church. Rev. Marsden had his sermon outline on a small piece of paper with the points of his sermon 1, 2, 3 and that was it. When the people of the church started to pick on him and say he said this or that which he knew he didn’t say — he started to write his sermons out and read them so they couldn’t twist what he said. Then they put him out and said he couldn’t preach there anymore. The Presbytery was going to send a man to talk about the problems we were having in the churches. He was to talk in our Middletown Church. Edith was to take notes in shorthand on his sermon. The church was full so my brother and I stood outside to hear but we couldn’t hear much. The minister said if anyone was planning to take notes, they weren’t to do it for the sermon was typed out and would be given to the note taker. It wasn’t. He refused to give the sermon to Edith. She trusted the minister but he had no intention to let us have his message.
Calvary Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Middletown, PA was organized June 24, 1936 by about 63 Christians from the Middletown Presbyterian Church (USA). Our first Sunday service was in the Elks theater. There were 30 some there as we remember. We had a lot of young people and they all had their children. We heard that Dr. George told them not to worry, only the lower horde left — The Plasterers and the Brinsers. But there were more than them. I know the Murrays left too, and some that didn’t belong to any one family group, like Edith.
We held services in the Western Movie house on the corner of Brown & Union Streets. We were looking for a regular meeting house. Every time we found an empty building the USA church had been there and they were (told) not to rent to us. Then we went to the couple that owned and lived above what used to be the Post Office. They told us they were told not to rent to us but they would rent to whom they wanted to. So we rented the building that used to be the Post Office. The buildings have been changed so much downtown, but I think it is he one that has the pizza parlor in it. We had to go up steps to get into the building but when Norman Stuckey took it over to have a drug store he had the floor lowered so people didn’t have to go up steps to get into his store.
We started to renovate the building. There was quite a group of young people that belonged to us. They bought seats from the old theater. We scraped chewing gum and crud off those seats. Mr. Bradley would round up a crew that lived in the east end to help, take us home for lunch, and take us back in the afternoon. We scraped, scrubbed the seats and then painted them green. The floors needed something so we had to varnish them. You know there was a lot the same age that left and worked to make the new building look like a church. Just look at the church membership now and see how many of us are around the same age and quite a few left us, in one way or another.
There were quite a lot of spoiled clothes for months, it seems. We all had green stains on our good clothes. There was one little hole called a cellar and we even made a Sunday School room out of that. We put curtains up in the sanctuary to divide it into rooms. The back of the building, in back of the pulpit, was the kindergarten room. Mrs. Baum and Mrs. Menaugh were sort of in charge of them. Mrs. Hess had the older small ones in that basement room. There was an old organ donated and that was played downstairs. Mrs. Hess and I were teaching down there when Nancy was born. What year was that? Older classes met throughout the church.
Mrs. Roberts was the first piano player for the church. The only time we had someone else was when she had another baby. So you know she was a regular player. I think she said she played the piano and the organ for over 20 years. She bought her own music; at least we teachers got our lesson material given to us. We had a regular choir, Vera (Plasterer) Lenker, Edith (Hickerness) Kagan, and Florence (Shader) McCoy were sopranos, Mrs. Sites was alto, Lewis Roberts was tenor and Frederick Plasterer was bass. Quite a crew. Many times we left by the back door, hated to face the congregation because we didn’t do too well on our anthem.
In July 1936, Mr. Marsden was called to serve on the missions committee. In 1938 Rev. Edward L. Kellogg came to assist him. In 1939 Mr. Marsden resigned and Mr. Kellogg was installed as pastor. He had the church service on radio. I think it was WTPA. They would set up their equipment back of the curtain in the nursery.
In 1940 we decided we wanted to build a church. They found two lots on Emaus St. One was free and the other was Frey Estate. We bought them and paid off our lease to the Frey Estate. [We] had a special meeting to get pledges so we could build the church. Rev. Marsden was in charge of that. He would get someone to pledge so much a month or year and then there was a lull and he would reach into a pocket and pull out a nice sized contribution that he had received toward the building. That would get us excited again so that more pledges would come in. Then another lull and into another pocket and out with another contribution from someone else. This went on all evening. Sort of an exciting evening! When it came to whether we would put a cupola on top and he told how much that would cost, we decided to forget it. Out of another pocket came a sizable amount toward that. So some more pledges and we got the cupola. All this before we started the building. Then the building was started. Out came the young people again. We painted, cleaned up the carpenter’s mess. Just lots of things to do. Rev. Marsden was always with us encouraging us to do more. If we would do so much in one hour we would get done by a certain time. We even painted the inside joists so they wouldn’t rot. The sub-floor had a board missing every so often for shrinking or stretching. We were painting and Rev. Marsden went down one of those holes. It hurt, but we, or I should say I, thought it was funny and he was very unhappy with me. But he didn’t hold grudges. He was always with us at any job we had to do; he was a slave driver but I guess that is necessary when kids are involved.