The Birth of a Church
Organization of Jefferson Church
On Friday, October 30, 1857, according to appointment by Monogahela Presbytery, a small band of earnest and devout people met for the purpose of organizing a new church, which they felt should be more centrally located and more accessible to those who found it difficult to travel to the Mifflin Church. In charge of the meeting were members of the Session of the Miffllin Church composed of J.F. Curry, Robert Rath and George Cochran. Their spiritual leader and moderator was the Rev. H.C. McFarland. During the meeting 25 people were received by letter of transfer and 2 by confession of faith for a total of 27. The following day, Saturday, October 31, the Session met and received 6 more people into membership. The next day, Sunday, November 1, the first worship service was held and the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was observed. On Monday, November 2, James Larimar Carlisle, eight month old son of James and Rebecca McMaster Carlisle was baptized. On Monday also, an election of Ruling Elders was held and Mr. George Cochran of Mifflin Session and Mr. Samuel Glenn of Bower Hill Session were chosen. The congregation unanimously decided to call itself the Jefferson Congregation of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. In 1858 the Reformed Presbyterian Church and the Associated Reformed Presbyterian Church united forming the United Presbyterian Church and the name became the Jefferson United Presbyterian Church.
Building of Jefferson Church
The property upon which the Church stands was surveyed by Theo Wood and purchased from William and Dinah Lowrie for “six cents money consideration in full”. Listed in the deed as Trustees in the transaction were John Shepler, James Large and Samuel L. Chamberlain. Subsequently, William Lowrie, about 1867, died interstate and his property was sold to Jackson and Nancy Stilley from whom in September, 1878, the parsonage lot was purchased at a cost of $175.61.
The one-room frame building which eventually housed the growing congregation, stood unchanged and unimpaired for the better part of a century. Rough hewn timbers were used to form part of the foundation; these were hauled by horse team out of the valley near the church from the adjoining forest. They are still in place and in perfect condition. The sanctuary had beautiful frescoed walls and at the rear of the pulpit there was a striking painted scene of a vast temple hall with pillars and a marble floor. Oil lamps on side walls were used for lighting and a wonderful ornate chandelier hung from the center of the ceiling. There were pot-bellied stoves on each side of this room.
When the church was established, it was the day of the mounting block – transportation was by horse. A mounting block was installed just outside the paling fence, which surrounded the church yard, midway between the gates at the end of each stone walk leading into the lane. General hitching areas were provided along the main road (then called Limetown Road), as well as on the west side of the building. Here assembled the rigs, buggies and fringe-topped surries.
Church Additions and Remodeing
On January 20, 1952, after generations of worship in the old one-room frame building, the congregation broke ground for an addition, the first step toward a modernization program. Today this new section forms part of the enlarged edifice at the south end of the old building and includes a narthex, fellowship hall, kitchen and church school rooms. The original sanctuary was completely remodeled. The entire structure follows the precedents of Georgian architecture and has been encased in red brick. On May 18, 1952, the corner stone was laid and on Sunday, June 13, 1954, formal services of dedication were held. With the building of the old and new, “Jefferson” had taken on a new look.
As it became apparent that more space for church school classrooms was needed, plans were developed for an addition. In the 1960’s the two floor addition of several classrooms on the west end of the building was completed.
The Church Cemetery
Established in 1881, the cemetery, which adjoins the church property was individually owned and operated by James Large until his death in 1914, when ownership passed to his heirs – Cyrus B. Large and J. Benjamin Large. In 1956, Cyrus Large, then sole owner, before his retirement, gave this property to the church. Many who are buried here were closely identified with the church’s beginnings and growth.
Ministers Who Have Served Jefferson United Presbyterian Church
Rev. H.C. McFarland 1857 – 1859
Rev. J.D. Glenn 1859 – 1860
Rev. Cyrus Blanchard Hatch 1872 – 1873
Rev. R.B. Stewart 1875 – 1878
Rev. James Connell Hunger 1880 – 1885
(buried in our cemetery)
Rev. Thomas William Young 1887 – 1892
Rev. Samuel Patterson Montgomery 1893 – 1905
Rev. I.T. Wright 1907 – 1913
Rev. John C. Heinrich 1915 – 1916
Rev. Jacob Ross 1916 – 1917
Rev. James F. Ray 1917 – 1924
Rev. G.S. Brooks 1924 – 1927
Rev. W.L.C. Sampson 1927 – 1928
Rev. Clyde E.M. Copeland 1928 – 1953
Rev. C. Kenneth Hall 1953 – 1957
Rev. Hugh K. Rose 1957 – 1964
Rev. James T. Snoke 1965 – 1969
Rev. Barry M. Walker 1970 – 1975
Rev. Robert W. Koschik 1976 – 2010
Rev. Wendy Keys 2010 – 2011
Rev. John J. Clawson 2011 – 2017