ground St. Paul's United Church of Christ is located on was part of a
tract of land granted by William Penn to a Peter Bonn in 1704. A
gentleman named David Hary became the owner in 1716, later selling
ninety-nine acres to a John Boyer, while one acre was set aside,
presumably for a burial ground.
the Swedes were the first white settlers of Amityville, they rarely
left the banks of the Manatawny. Germans, who came in great numbers
after 1725, were largely of the Reformed and Lutheran faith and were
without the services of a regular pastor for a long time. In Morlatton
(present-day Douglassville), services were held in Swedish or English,
neither of which could be understood by the Germans, who were extremely
poor and could not employ a pastor or build a church in these early
years. There is evidence that a Pastor Brunholz was preaching in
Amityville homes as early as 1745. These gatherings for worship most
certainly hastened the setting aside of a parcel of ground for the
burying of the dead. Two tombostones inscribed with the dates 1742 and
1740 respectively, indicate a burial ground before a church was
first church (of log construction) was built in 1753 and was used as a
church and school. In 1754, Reverend Henry M. Muhlenberg visited
Amityville and found a union meeting house erected by the two
congregations. The cornerstone was laid on September 18,1795 for a new
stone church measuring 40 x 50 feet with a seating capacity of 500
people. The building cost approximately $2,325. In 1797, the new stone
church was dedicated and the log meeting house was torn down. The debt
was fully paid by 1816. An organ was purchased at a cost of $889 in
1840, the young people of St. Paul's became dissatisfied with the use
of the German language in the church services. A petition to change the
services to English was denied by the elders leading to a division and
in 1844, a group of young Lutherans broke away and built a small church
just north of the present building on newly acquired ground, joined
shortly by the young Reformers. Four years later, the mother church, in
an effort to appease, began conducting alternate services in English
and German with German services finally being discontinued in 1890. The
small church built by the young Lutherans stood for over 100 years. At
one time it was used by the Church of the Brethren and from 1928 it was
used as the Amity Historical Society Museum. The roof was severely
damaged by a thunderstorm in the early 1950's and was torn down when
the church ground and the graveyard walls were renovated for the 200th
Anniversary celebration of St. Paul's in 1953.
August 12, 1872, the cornerstone was laid for a new brick church. The
stone church was torn down and services were held in the small church.
Dedicated in August of 1873, the new brick church measured 52 x 81
feet, seated 700 people, and cost $21,635. It's steeple stood 123 feet
high. In 1892, a clock was placed in the steeple, where it could be
heard tolling every hour at a distance of up to three miles. A tornado
struck and leveled the brick church on June 11, 1922. Men, women, and
even children donated one day's work each week until the wreckage was
present yellow brick church was dedicated in May 1925 and cost
$121,000. A union building fund remained in effect until this church
was paid in full. During 1952 and 1953, extensive improvements were
made to the outside church grounds, largely through the generosity of
Mr. John Z. Harner, a Reformed layman.
Throughout their long history, both congregations of the Union church
belonged to parishes, meaning their pastors served one or more
congregations. On November 3, 1958, St. Paul's Reformed Congregation
hired the Reverend William H. Solly as their full-time pastor. The
Lutheran congregation soon followed suit. At this time, each
congregation held weekly services, alternating between the hours of
8:00 a.m. and 10:15 a.m.
annual joint congregational meeting on January 9, 1963, a report cited
that conditions teaching Sunday School had become intolerable because
of overcrowding. On July 28th, ground-breaking services were held and
by April 26, 1964, a Service of Dedication was held for the new
Christian Education Building. The two story building measured 50 x 82
feet and was built at a cost of $92,337.00, with the cost being shared
equally between both congregations. In February 1969, the Union Sunday
School was discontinued, with each congregation becoming responsible
for its own educational program. Beginning in February 1969, each
congregation had its own regular hour for worship.
Study Committee was organized in 1967. The Lutheran church soon
indicated the desire to terminate the Union church relationship that
had existed since 1753. After many discussions and a lengthy period of
negotiation, a dissolution agreement was signed on March 21, 1973 to
become effective July 1, 1973. Under the terms of the dissolution
agreement, the United Church of Christ congregation purchased the
Lutheran congregation's equity for the sum of $100,000 with the
Lutheran congregation paying rent to the UCC while their new church was
25, 1975, a Joint Service of Thanksgiving was conducted. By June 1,
1975, the Lutheran congregation had moved into its new church and the
United Church of Christ congregation became the sole occupant of the
church in Amityville. The final payment of $20,000 was made to the
Lutheran congregation on July 1,1975.
Paul's chapel dates back to 1794, when a log house was built on the
site adjacent to the church. In 1839, the log house was demolished and
a brick schoolhouse was erected on the site. Considering German
frugality, the logs from the old school were used to build a horse
stable, known as the "minister's stable."
brick schoolhouse was built in the spring of 1839. Jacob Ludwig and
Ezekiel Rhoads were the building committee, John Redcay and Samuel
Greiner were the carpenters, Godried and William Trexel were the chief
masons. The schoolhouse measured 30 feet x 36 feet and cost $950. Upon
completion, the school was used for educational purposes until 1869 and
after 1880, the basement of the schoolhouse was used by the Amityville
the schoolhouse was torn down and in July, another brick building was
constructed at the same location. This was the first structure built
specifically for Sunday School purposes. It was built by the Amityville
Union Sunday School with several stipulations:
- Amityville Union Sunday
School may build on the church grounds without charge or rent.
- The chapel shall be used
only for Sunday School services and activities.
- The congregation shall have
a right to hold congregational and vestry meetings.
- The pastors shall have the
privilege to conduct their catechetical lecutres in the chapel.
- If the chapel remains unused
for Sunday School purposes for one year it shall become the property of
- If the congregations at any
time want to have the chapel they must allow the School what the chapel
cost to build.
- No preaching of any kind
shall be permitted in the chapel, except in the case that both
congregations and Sunday School unite in consenting.
- So long as the Sunday School
uses the chapel for Sunday School purposes, the officers of the
congregations shall in no way molest them or interfere with their
enjoyment of their rights as granted in this agreement.
of contributors toward the brick schoolhouse in 1889 included families
who were connected with the congregations in 1839. They are as follows:
Ezekiel Rhoads, Jacob Ludwig, Jacob Coleman, David Herner, Henry
Herner, Samuel Achey, Dan Knabb, William Rhoads, Jacob Willman, Jacob
Deturk, Sam Francis, John Lorah.
building committee for the chapel consisted of: S.H. Romig (foreman),
Harvey V. Reed, H.Y. Harbold, U.P. Heilman. The wall was constructed by
John Rhoads and his hands from Freidensburg. In order to offset the
cost of the chapel and furniture ($2300), an oyster supper was held in
November of 1889. Furthermore, a sewing society of thirty or more women
met every Saturday afternoon in private homes near the Sunday School to
make garments, quilts, and needlework to sell at the Sunday School
many areas at the time, the congregations and the Amityville Sunday
School had cordial relations. The Amityville Sunday School Easter
Festival was held on March 1888 in the church building. On June 3, 1894
(Children's Day), over 1500 people were in attendance who had arrived
in 270 carriages. The various Sunday Schools in the area such as
Weavertown, Monocacy, Glendale, and Stonersville participated in this
Friday of 1917, the chapel burned down during the night. Trees on the
property had been trimmed during the previous day with the brush being
burned in piles. The wind picked up during the night and sparks flew
into the steeple, igniting bird's nests and the roof. Church members
were left with only the piano and books, which were saved by the local
undertaker Harvey Van Reed.
the fire of 1917, the steeple was enclosed and Sunday School classes
resumed, however attendance dropped significantly and it became evident
that steps needed to be taken in getting a suitable place to hold
services. Committees were appointed for the purpose of finding a
different home for the Sunday School and it was decided that a new
chapel be built on the site of the old one. The old walls were used to
build the present chapel which was erected at a cost of $4500.
chapel was equipped with electric lights, heated by a hot air heater,
while its spacious kitchen was used for suppers. The new chapel soon
became the center of activity for residents in the area. Spring
festivals and Easter and Christmas programs all drew large numbers in
attendance, providing the Sunday School with a source of revenue.
Union Sunday School, officers were both from the Lutheran and Reformed
congregations. The respective superintendents had authority on
alternate Sundays, these superintendents included: David Ludwig,
Charles S. Rhoads, Henry Body, W. Jacob Moser, George Thompson, W.S.
Kutz, Alice Kutz, Ida Trainer, Olivia Ehst, Leroy Haas, Herbert Weiss,
first Vacation Bible School of the Union Sunday School was held during
the summer of 1953. In the late 1960's, the Sunday School was rented to
the Daniel Boone School District while a new school was being built.
Although the chapel was no longer used, it continued to be a joint
entity until the dissolution of the partnership between the Lutheran
and Reformed churches. The final joint service was held on May 25,
the annual congregational meeting of St. Paul's United Church of Christ
in November of 1995, approval was given for a committee to be formed
that would study the future of St. Paul's chapel. The chapel had gone
unused for many years and the time had to come to either restore it or
demolish it. Harold (Butch) Boyer volunteered to be chairman of the
committee along with the following members: Jean Barto, Ken Biles,
Nancy Casner, Arlene Hafer, Louise Selwyn, Gary Steppler, Ruth
months later, the committee recommended that the chapel be restored
rather than demolish it. At the time, the historical value along with
the estimated cost for restoration was $100,000. The chapel was to be
restored in three phases as funds became available. On June 6, 1998, a
rededication program was held to commemorate the restoration of the
Amityville Sunday School chapel.