United Church of Christ
1874 – 1999
“Cherishing our past,
honoring our present,
moving into our future”
Clinton H. Snyder First Church Secretary
Clinton H. Snyder
First Church Secretary
I started by rewriting the early histories, mainly to modernize the writing and, hopefully, make it a bit more readable. For the last 50 years, I read the old Secretary’s minutes. (Without mentioning names, some wrote more legibly than others.) I would have loved to have gone back to the minutes for the whole time, but I cannot read Pennsylvania German and simply did not have time to read the English portions. I tried to avoid having this become a mere recitation of who gave what to the Church through the years. I therefor mentioned some, but by no means all, of the many contributors. To those whose names I missed, please forgive me. I trust you will understand that not every name could be included. To all the many loyal members of our Congregation who give so generously of their time and money to our Church, please take the time to accept a pat on the back and a heartfelt “thank you” even if I could not name each of you here.
I also want to thank the many people who contributed photos and remembrances. We now have a “living history” of memories of the past to inspire future generations here at Snyder’s Church. A special thanks to Dr. George Laubach, who collected and organized most of the photos and background information on the “sons” of our congregation from his father’s records. Thanks especially to Ruth and Sam Remaly who updated and computerized our burial records. Genealogists will be pleased and future generations will thank them when it comes time to update and organize these records for the next anniversary. This was truly a congregation wide effort.
–Daniel G. Spengler
Pastor John McLoughlin was born on June 28, 1931, in Kingston, New York. He grew up in Syracuse NY, and graduated from Central High School there in 1949. He went on to Syracuse University, graduating in 1955, and from there he attended Hartford Seminary, class of 1959. Pastor John’s first church was the Farmingville/Holtzville Congregational Church on Long Island. He went on to serve at Friedens U.C.C. in Schenectady, NY until answering the call of St. Peter’s in 1971. He remained with us until retiring in 1997. While serving us, he also was chaplain to the elderly at the Manor Care Nursing Home in Bethlehem and, later, at Country Meadows, where he remains chaplain. Since retiring, John has also been serving the Conference as an interim minister.
He married his wife, Jane, in 1960, and they had three children: Thomas, Andrew and Paul. John’s early interests included amateur figure skating, for which he was quite an accomplished skater. He also officiated football, basketball and baseball in New York and continued umpiring baseball when he moved to Pennsylvania. Pastor John has a keen interest in history and can talk for hours about the various waves of immigrants who settled the different regions of the United States.
I asked Pastor John why he stayed so long at Snyder’s. He told me that he liked the area and the many good, sincere people who worked with him throughout his years. He was especially grateful for the many who were there for him and his family when his son, Paul, was suddenly and tragically taken away.
Pastor John was our minister for over twenty-five years. We’ve been through the good times and bad times together. With him, we’ve learned about God and religion, discussed philosophy, worked for our church, and even played street hockey in the basement. He was our spiritual leader and friend for most of the past quarter century. It is with pride that we dedicate this 125th anniversary history to Reverend John McLoughlin—“the Rev.”
–Reverend Linda Magyar
Reverend Linda Magyar graduated from Kutztown University and Lancaster Theological Seminary. She is the widow of Frank J. Magyar and has one son, Joseph.
“As we stood on the verge of a new decade, a new century, and a new millennium, we not only wanted to remember our past as a precious heritage, we also wanted to affirm our present strengths, and embark on an ever closer walk with Jesus in the future. The Spirit which brought together the families in this area in 1864 needs to be reborn in us as we reach out to the vast ‘unchurched’ in our community, telling the old, old story in new and different ways. Praise to God Who gives us this opportunity and calls us into the future.”
Reverend Paul Sherry, President of the United Church of Christ, with Reverend Linda. We were very honored to have Reverend Sherry visit with us during our anniversary celebration.
St. Peter’s (Snyder’s)
U.C.C. of Seemsville
125th Anniversary History
We’ve come a long way; there’s still a long way to go. It is essential that we regularly review and celebrate our past. It makes us appreciate our forefathers that much more; it helps us gain a better understanding of who we are; and it serves as a beacon to guide us into the future. We can not know who we are or where we are going without knowing who we were.
Although St. Peter’s Union Church was built in 1874, our roots go back much further. Unusually, we did not start out as a church. A community school and Sunday School were established here long before church services were begun. On February 18, 1776, George Koch, George Spengler, Johanas Schnyder and Johanes Koch signed Articles of Agreement for the purpose of erecting a school house. The agreement was in German, the language of the inhabitants hereabouts. That document has been lost in time, but tradition has it that it was read at our Twenty-fifth Anniversary celebration. An old school record, quoted in previous church histories, set forth the purpose for the school. “Whereas among the numerous blessings we enjoy under a free and independent government, none can be more dear to us than the instruction of our children in useful knowledge, and an acquirement of the established language of our country.” Rather fitting sentiments for a school established in 1776.
The initial school building was divided into two rooms, the front was the classroom while the teacher lived in the back. According to the earlier history books, that first school building was located along the left side of the Bath to Seemsville Road near the fork leading to the Miller Slate Quarry. That would probably place it along the eastern end of the church cemetery near Paul Dech’s house. It was called the Oxford School after the nearby Oxford Creek, now called the Catasauqua Creek. The school was by subscription, meaning that patrons, usually parents and other concerned citizens, paid for both the school’s upkeep and the teacher’s salary. School taxes awaited future generations. Trustees were elected by the patrons to govern the school and to hire the teacher.
The lot containing the school building was surveyed in 1796 and a warrant issued to Johanas Schnyder or Snyder, one of the original trustees. He did not exercise actual physical control of the property but he did will it to his two sons, Daniel and Henry Snyder. Daniel later conveyed his interest to Peter Snyder. The Snyders then conveyed nine acres, eight-nine perches to Adam Laubach and Peter Koehler, in trust, for the use of the school. Two acres, located south of the present cemetery, had been sold off earlier from the original grant. Laubach and Koehler paid the princely sum of ten cents to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in order to perfect their patent (an original grant of vacant land from the state.) On March 11, 1815, the trustees were issued a patent to the land to be used for school purposes. In 1836, a new school house, similar in design, was built about twenty-five feet southeast of the present church building.
The local residents were not merely concerned with their children’s secular education. Religious training was considered of utmost importance. Due to the long horse-and-buggy travel to neighboring churches, the citizens organized a Sunday School which held its services in the Oxford school. Although no date has come down to us for the founding of the Sunday School, tradition has it about 1800. It was known as Snyder’s Sunday School, doubtlessly after the original patent owners. That name stuck and eventually Snyder’s also became the traditional “folk” name of our Church.
As the Sunday School grew, our forefathers also sought to establish a church for the area. In 1864, they organized formally and began regular worship services in the school house. Neighboring Lutheran and Reformed pastors conducted Sunday services in the afternoon, alternating every second week between the two faiths. The German Reformed Church eventually merged with other denominations to become the present United Church of Christ. Reverend Kuntz conducted Lutheran services, and the Reverends Lisberger and Kondenbein conducted the Reformed. In order to provide more space for worship services, the dividing wall between the two rooms of the school was removed and a movable partition erected in its place. As a result of these early but regular worship services, 1864 is recognized by the national United Church of Christ as our founding date.
Worshippers increased due to the difficulties of horse travel to other, more distant churches, especially so in inclement weather. The first officers were elected in 1868. That same year, a new school building was erected and the old building no longer used for a school. By this time, the Oxford School began being governed by a Board of Directors elected by the voters rather than by the private trustees. The new school was erected about two hundred yards north of the present church building on a one acre triangle of land donated to the school by the trustees. (This is the brick schoolhouse along Old Carriage Road now owned by the Church.) Worship services and the Sunday School continued in the old school building.
The Snyder’s Congregation
Decides to Build a Home
On October 8, 1873, a meeting of the congregation was called by Joshua Bartholomew and Abraham Landes to consider the erection of a church building. The membership heartily endorsed the proposal. Officers were elected to govern the church and oversee construction. President was Levi Knauss; Secretary, Clinton H. Snyder; and Treasurer, Franklin Andreas. The Building Committee consisted of Reformeds: Nathan Miller, Franklin Andreas, and Joshua Bartholomew; and Lutherans: Joseph Mussleman, George Spengler and George Ziegenfuss. It was decided to canvas the members for subscriptions (pledges) toward the building project; the results of which would determine whether or not to build a new church. On January 15, 1874, the subscriptions were totaled and the result was $2,870.00, quite a bit of money for that time especially among traditionally cash poor farmers. With the success of the building drive, all twenty-five members in attendance at that meeting voted to build. Four days later, on January 19, 1874, a ballot was held to determine the construction material. The vote was 25 for brick, 4 for stone and 3 for frame. At that meeting, there was also a vote on whether to have a gallery (balcony). After four tie votes, the gallery carried.
On February 19, 1874, the building committee was given authority to build the church according to their own best judgment. The trustees met with the building committee on February 26 and agreed that the church should be similar to the Presbyterian Church in Bath, only bigger: sixty-four feet long and forty feet wide. The Bath Presbyterian Church is now the Jaycees Building along Walnut Street (Route 512) which houses the Mid-County Senior Citizen Center. Of note, St. Paul’s U.C.C. in Indianland was also based on that design. The Building Committee decided to add a “basement,” their name for the present ground floor Fellowship Hall, rather than the gallery that had been so recently decided in that close vote. The fifty year history states that any ill filling was forgotten soon after the church building was complete when they all appreciated the wisdom of having a basement.
In the meantime, the school trustees, who with the passage of the Free School Act and the building of the new public school were no longer needed, voted to sell the remaining school property to the church. On May 16, 1874, with the approval of the Court of Common Pleas in Northampton County, the church trustees purchased the land consisting of eight acres and one hundred forty-nine perches for $44.65.
Construction and Dedication of the Church
The old school building was leveled and the foundation for the new church begun. The cornerstone was laid with an appropriate service on August 2, 1874. Reverend Robert Lisberger of Bushkill Center preached the morning sermon. Reverend Kistler from Cherryville spoke in the afternoon. St. John’s Choir from Howertown led the singing under the direction of Jonas Landes. It was not unusual in that time of limited travel and entertainment for services to last most of the day. The collection that day netted a generous $278.39. The following articles were placed in the cornerstone: a copy of the Holy Bible, a Lutheran hymn book, a Reformed hymn book, a copy of Martin Luther’s Catechism, a German Reformed catechism, a copy of the Lutheran Zeitschrift, a copy of the German Reformed Hausfreund, a Lutheran almanac of 1874, and a list of church officers.
The members assisted generously in the construction of the church building. Those with proper wagons helped haul the construction material. Levi Spengler was the overseer of the mason work. Charles Nagel managed the carpentry. A painter, Mr. Richard from Siegried’s Bridge (now part of the Borough of Northampton) was contracted to paint the church at $2.18 per day, with the understanding that he would donate $25 to the church. Finally, in June of 1875, the church was completed. The total cost of the building and furniture was $6,705.09.
A Constitution Committee was appointed on December 11, 1874, consisting of Reformed members Jacob Koch and Nathan Miller and Lutheran members Joseph Fehnel and Joseph Musselman. Their constitution was adopted on April 20, 1875. On December 21, 1874, the congregation voted to begin a cemetery south of the church, laid out in plots 33 feet square, with each plot divided into four equal lots. The southwest corner was reserved for members who did not desire to pay for a lot.
The new St. Peter’s Union Church was formally dedicated to the worship of God on June 6, 1875. Morning, afternoon and evening services were conducted. The following ministers took part that day: Reverend Robert Lisberger, our first Reformed minister, Reverend M. J. Kramlich, the first Lutheran minister, Reverend Horn, principal of the Keystone Normal School in Kutztown (now Kutztown University,) and the Reverends Loos from Bethlehem and Kuntz from Nazareth.
Early Years and Growth of the Church
On January 1, 1878, a bell was purchased and placed in the church tower. It weighed 668 pounds and cost $187.04, plus an additional $35 for frame fixtures to hang it in the steeple. The bell was dedicated on March 10, 1878, again with morning, afternoon and evening services. Reverend Lisberger preached the morning service, Reverend W. J. Andreas, the new Lutheran pastor, preached in the afternoon, and Reverend J. Smith in the evening.
Rules were adopted governing the ringing of the church bell. It would be rung for a period of fifteen minutes two hours before worship services; and again for five minutes immediately before the service was to begin. The rules also specified the tolling of the bell for fifteen minutes the evening before a morning funeral service, and for fifteen minutes in the morning before an afternoon funeral service. Thus the early church signaled its members to attend. In the event of a death in the church family, the bell would be tolled for twenty minutes. If the deceased were under ten years of age, it was rung once, then a pause, then once again for the twenty minutes. If the deceased were between ten and twenty, it was rung twice and a pause, three stokes if between twenty and thirty, etc. In this way, the church members hearing the bell could often determine who had passed away based on the age of those known to be in failing health. This was the traditional way of signaling a death before the telephone, hence the line from John Donne, “And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee;” which later became the title of Hemingway’s famous novel “For Whom the Bell Tolls.”
In 1885 a pale (picket) fence was constructed to enclose the church. That same year the church was repainted. A Mr. Whitesell from Bath did the work for $40 plus the cost of paint. In 1887 the Sunday School, with a positive balance of $200, decided to purchase an organ for the Church. An Alleger organ was purchased for $85. Mr. Osborn Bartholomew, the company agent and Superintendent of the Sunday School gave a $15 discount. The organ was dedicated on October 16, 1887. Reverend Andreas preached the morning service and Reverend J. O. Lindaman, of Christ Reformed Church in Bath, spoke at the afternoon service.
Church before the addition
Note the carriage stables to the left
In 1887, new stoves were purchased for the “basement” of the church at a cost of $62.25 each. The stoves were located at either end of the rear of the present Fellowship Hall with registers or grates cut through the floor to heat the Sanctuary. Sheds were built in 1890 to shelter the parishioners’ horses and buggies. These sheds were located along the west property line, where the parsonage and other homes now stand. Individual sheds were rented to members annually. Two outdoor toilets were located with the sheds. The cost of material was able to be paid directly from the general church treasury, a sign that things were picking up.
The constitution was amended on November 13, 1888. On January 20, 1891, at a special church meeting, the joint consistories met with the school directors of East Allen Township for the purpose of vacating the road east of the church, and relocating it further east along the William Thomas Koch farm, now Paul Dech. The motion carried. Remnants of the old road can be seen on the cemetery side of the present Snyder’s Church Road. Soon thereafter, the new road was built and the church voted to plant shade trees and to set up tying posts between the church building and the new road. Proceeds from the refreshment stand at choir picnics were used to defray the court expenses and to purchase the trees.
In 1892, the church was papered, repainted and re-carpeted, an altar railing installed, and altar furnishings procured. Mr. Case from Catasauqua papered and repainted. Mr. Lawler of Allentown installed the carpets. Altar furnishings and the railing were donated to the church. The exterior of the church was repainted in 1896 by Harvey Koch and Charles Edelman. On February 11, 1899, the cemetery was increased south to the road and enclosed with a fence.
In 1900, the church bell was replaced. Shades of the Liberty Bell, the old one had cracked. This was not uncommon in olden times when metallurgy did not always produce the quality metal alloy needed. The new bell cost $205 with an allowance given for the old bell of $112.14. The cement walks leading from the front and side doors to the fence gates were installed in 1903. In 1904, the east wall was repaired by installing weather boarding on the entire side wall. This seems to be a common problem with old bricks as even now we are in need of re-pointing the brick especially along the east wall due to deterioration from the weather. Franklin Goldsmith did the carpentry work and William Bachman of Northampton painted the siding. The fund drive was so successful that there was leftover money. The Sunday School asked for and was permitted to purchase new pews for $96.23. In 1905 a hymn board and Bible were purchased and new carpeting installed. A few years later, a new reed organ was purchased from Fred Kramer for $120. On January 1, 1909, the constitution was printed in German with the English translation on the facing page and copies distributed to the members. The St. Peter’s Plotholder’s Association was organized on June 1, 1909, to govern the cemetery. Book racks were added to the pews in 1911.
On July 12, 1912, an election was held by the two congregations on the question of again repainting and re-papering the church, as well as the question of installing a chandelier in the church auditorium. The improvements were passed. Amos Bachman did the painting and papering, and S. H. Yeager installed the chandelier as well as new oil lamps. Altar cloths were also purchased from John Taylor and Co. On January 1, 1913, the cemetery was again enlarged.
In a major move, singing in German during church services was discontinued by a resolution of the joint consistories on April 16, 1916. On the world stage, the United States and Germany were approaching war. The United States Senate voted to bring the army to full strength on March 15, 1916. Three Americans lost their lives when a German U-boat sank the French vessel Sussex in the English Channel on March 24. Although unstated at the time, these events had to be a factor in the Church’s decision a few weeks later to discontinue German services. By the next year, April 2, 1917, we were at war with Germany and on a national scale, changing into English the German names of things such as sauerkraut to “victory cabbage.”
Also in 1916 individual communion cups were used at St. Peter’s for the first time. Charles Newhard and John Knaauss led the fund drive to purchase the new cups and communion trays. On April 29, 1917, the congregations voted to move the choir from a raised platform at the rear of the church to the front Northwest corner (the location of the present organ.) A new platform and railing was erected for that purpose. New stoves were purchased and installed by J. Beers in 1919.
The First Major Remodeling
On August 17, 1919, it was decided that a new pipe organ should be purchased. After much discussion, it was decided to build an addition on the northwest corner to house the new organ. (This is the room behind the organ where the works and sound system are housed. Below that, on the first floor, is the present Secretary’s office.) This addition is obvious when looking at the outside right rear of the church. It also explains why there is now only one window on the right side of the alter rather than the symmetry of a window on both sides. A Kimble two manual organ was purchased at a cost of $3,150. An additional $123.71 was paid for changing and repairing pews in order to provide sufficient space for the organ, and, because this was before public rural electrification, another $685 was spent on an electric power plant, and a motor and blower to produce wind for the organ’s pipes. The addition itself cost $990. Since they were installing an electric power plant, the church fathers decided to also wire the church auditorium and Sunday School room for electric lighting for an additional $570. The total cost of the organ and modernization was $5,518.71. These were rather major improvements when one considers the whole church was build less than fifty years prior for under $7,000. Obviously music was important to the early church.
The dedication of the new pipe organ was held on November 21, 1920. The pastors were Reverends A. E. Erdman (Lutheran) and George Laubach (Reformed), and the Organist was Charles Landis. Reverend David Scheirer preached the morning sermon. An organ recital was given by Professor Isaac Bartholomew. Speakers in the afternoon service were Reverends S. E. Ochsenford, D.D., William U. Helfrich, Joshua Bartholomew and L. D. Lazarus. Professors Daniel F. Knauss and David G. Samuels gave organ recitals. The Reformed Church of Bath’s choir sang several selections. The sermon in the evening service was by Reverend John Koch. The choir of Zion Stone Church of Kreidersville favored the congregation with several anthems. It was a different world then: some people had to drive for an hour or more to attend church and there was no television or movies to entertain them. When the congregations got together to celebrate, they stayed all day for worship, entertainment and to socialize.
To help pay for the new organ, the outside (visible) metal pipes were “sold” on Thanksgiving Day, November 25, 1920. The names of individual purchasers were placed on each pipe. The total raised was $778.50.
During 1921, a pine grove then adjoining the church was sold off for lumber. Many of the trees were dead or showing signs of decay and underbrush was growing wild. The pine grove had been the site of many choir picnics and enjoyed far and wide. An idea of how this must have looked can be seen today at the Salem U.C.C. Church’s grove in nearby Moorestown. Our pine grove was replaced with the present maple grove. On November 22, 1921, amendments
Sanctuary before the New Addition Ó 1920
Sanctuary following the New Addition Ó 1940
were added to the Constitution. Thus ended the first fifty years.
During 1921, a pine grove then adjoining the church was sold off for lumber. Many of the trees were dead or showing signs of decay and underbrush was growing wild. The pine grove had been the site of many choir picnics and enjoyed far and wide. An idea of how this must have looked can be seen at the Salem U.C.C. Church’s grove in nearby Moorestown. Our pine grove was replaced with the present maple grove. On November 22, 1921, amendments were added to the Constitution. Thus ended the first fifty years.
Years of Growth
The Ladies’ Aid Society was begun on March 9, 1924. They helped pay for painting and re-papering the church, and they purchased an electric sweeper to keep the church beautiful. A piano was purchased for the church auditorium, with special dedication services held on December 7, 1925. In May, 1926, the Sunday School replaced an existing picnic stand with one containing a cement floor and trough (used to store ice and soda during picnics.) A Young People’s Society was begun on July 25, 1926, for the purpose of training the young to become future leaders in the church. Members gave speeches to entertain at their monthly meetings. By 1929, it had over 100 members!
A new Constitution was adopted on March 27, 1927. The committee to draft the new constitution consisted of Clinton Creyer, Palmer Roth, George Spengler, Clayton Reimer, Claude Landis and Warren Dech. During the Summer of 1927, the church was repainted, re-spouted, and the steeple top removed and replaced with a cast metal top put in its place, and lightening rods added.
The memorial stained glass windows were purchased in 1928 through the sponsorship of the Ladies’ Aid Society. The Society paid for windows in the chancel in honor of the pastors, and the other windows were paid for by subscription. The names of those sponsors can be seen on the windows today. The total cost was $2,603.22. Installation was done by Sylvanus Danner of Northampton. Special consecration services for the memorial windows was conducted on November 13, 1928. Speakers were Reverends George A. Bear, H. S. Paules, J. W. Koch, and H. D. Clause. Other speakers were Mrs. James Lambert and Mrs. Weston Mease. Quarterly Parish Papers were being published by both the Lutheran and Reformed Congregations and distributed to their members. Community church picnics were held annually in the church grove for the combined congregations of Howertown, Stone and Snyder’s Churches because our grove was so well recognized by our neighbors for its beauty.
Scene from the Church grove
In the Fall of 1928, the gasoline driven electric generator was sold and electricity provided by the Metropolitan Electric Power Company—the rural electrification mentioned earlier. As noted in the 1929 history update, “The new arrangement is safer and more convenient.” The painting, “The Good Shepherd” in the pulpit recess was donated in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Landis by their children, in approximately 1928 or 1929. The earlier hanging picture had been given by the Infant Department of the Sunday School, Oliver Bartholomew, teacher.
New Church hymnals and Orders of Worship were purchased for both congregations between 1929 and 1934. The remodeling debt was paid off and a mortgage burning service was held on November 22, 1931. The paper was actually burned in church, lit by Henry Fehnel and Uriah Bartholomew. The congregation then sang the hymn “Praise God from Whom all Blessings Flow.”
Maple trees in the grove were trimmed in 1930. Poplar trees were planted along the road at both ends of the sheds and along the front side of the cemetery in 1931. Old dead trees and stumps were uprooted and removed. Also that year, the cemetery was enlarged to the west. The front side of the sheds and other outbuildings were painted for the 1934 anniversary. In May, 1933, the first son of the congregation, Mark Wagner, graduated from the Eastern Theological Seminary at Lancaster, Pa.
The 1934 history noted that the Sunday School has increased over the previous five years from 200 to 260 members. The Sunday School also began construction of a band stand in the church grove. In 1932, the Sunday School formed an orchestra with initial members: Irene Remaly, Dorothy Hess [Kist], Miriam Hess [Spengler], Henry Schlegel, George Spengler, Edgar Wagner, George B. Laubach, David Creyer, Mark Remaly, George Megargell, Vincent Megargell, Vergil Megargell, and William Flory. The Ladies’ Aid Society purchased slides and see-saws for the church grove in 1934. The Sunday School also presented a play, “An Old Fashioned Mother,” which was so popular it had to be presented on three different evenings.
The New Addition
On February 12, 1939, the church officers decided to ask members to vote on the building of an addition to the church to either the East or North sides. The members voted on March 12 to build along the East wall of the Church. George J. Spengler prepared the architectural drawings. Bids were accepted for construction: Arthur Hauser for the building at $7,783.00; H. A. Koons for the heating plant at $2,439.00; George Newhard for lighting at $247.20; and George Newhard for rewiring of the old structure at $53.80, for a total cost of $10,523.00.
The cornerstone was laid on June 4, 1939. Sealed in a copper box were: The Book of Worship for the Reformed Church of the United States, the Book of Worship of the Lutheran Church, copies of the St. Peter’s Church History, Constitution and By-laws, the Lutheran, the Parish Messenger, The Heidelberg Catechism, Luther’s Small Catechism, Names of Reformed and Lutheran Catechumens, and the names of all officers and members of the various church organizations. When work was completed, a re-dedication service was held on September 24, 1939. Present were Reverend H. J. Ehret, D.D., representing the East Pennsylvania Classis of the Reformed Church, and President Reverend W. C. G. Veit representing the Allentown Conference of the Lutheran Church. Various services and music were held throughout the following weeks under the sponsorship of the different church organizations.
Early bus trip
Kate Smoyer, Sunday School teacher,
at the old picnic stand
A Young Ladies’ Bible Class was begun in 1936 as part of the Sunday School. The 1939 history notes an orchestra of 32 members ranging from violins to trombones to clarinets. A group of Sunday School members, assisted by the orchestra, presented a play in Pennsylvania German, “Der Aaron is Schlich” [“That Aaron is a Slick One”] which was so successful it played at several neighboring churches and raised $379.45. The orchestra entertained before and after the play and between acts. The Sunday School also re-wired the picnic grove for the church picnics. The Ladies’ Aid Society purchased metal and wood benches for the grove in 1935. The Society also sent money to the Red Cross to assist in flood relief along the Mississippi River in 1937. The Brotherhood, a men’s Christian organization, was organized on November 5, 1937. By 1938 it had 66 members. They donated labor to build a bathroom in the basement of the church.
“The Boys of Summer”
Recognize Dr. George Laubach leaning on future brother-in-law Paul Dech? Elias Spengler sitting in front of Paul? Rev. George Smith by the dog? Elmer Kist? Anyone else? Let us know.
Post World War II
The mortgage for the new addition was paid off and a mortgage burning service held on Thanksgiving Day, 1945. On January 12, 1947, the cemetery was turned over to the St. Peter’s Plotholders Association. The Church bought the Oxford school on March 23, 1947, for the use of the church sexton. The steeple was repaired on November 2, 1948. In March and June of 1949, the automobile finally overran church traditions and the horse and buggy sheds were torn down with volunteer labor.
The Schneider’s Kitchen Band
The Schneider’s Kitchen Band was organized in 1951. What a crew of kazoo playing, sweet singing women who raised tens of thousands of dollars for St. Peter’s over the years by entertaining all over the Lehigh Valley. They played on local radio shows and were even televised on a Philadelphia station’s talent show. New lights were installed in the Sunday School room in 1952. In 1953, choir pews were installed on both sides of the front of the Church.
The portraits of Reverends Laubach (who passed away that February) and Appel were unveiled in 1959. These gentlemen served the Reformed and Lutheran parishes for many, many years. Numerous members were baptized, confirmed, and married by the same minister and five of our Congregation were inspired by their example to join the ministry. Even today, they cast an inspiring shadow over St. Peter’s.
On October 26, 1959, the new Allen organ was dedicated. It cost $9,560. An additional sum of $2,237 was spent by the Ladies Bible Class and the Choir to install the organ speakers and for paneling and painting to cover the speaker openings where the pipes from the old organ were removed. In May 1960, Rev. James Ishler was elected as pastor. In a legal matter, the St. Peter’s United Church of Christ Congregation was officially chartered as a corporation on October 31, 1960.
In April 1961 we began the long and sometimes painful process of dissolution with our Lutheran brothers by forming a union study committee. A congregational meeting voted to hold weekly services, adopt a separate UCC constitution and to construct a UCC parsonage in May, 1961. The UCC Women’s Guild was organized January 1962. Also in 1962, a lot was donated by Mrs. Lillie Muffley and an additional lot was purchased for the construction of a UCC parsonage, which was built by Willard and Earl Eberts for a bid of $25,150.00 not counting extras. It was dedicated on September 16, 1962.
By 1963, Separate UCC and Lutheran services were held with separate choirs for each congregation. They rotated 8 A.M. and 10:15 AM services each week. The UCC eventually offered the Lutherans to join them but the Lutherans voted to separate and join with fellow Lutherans at St. John’s of Howertown and Stone Church of Kreidersville to form Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. The final vote taken in January 1969 was UCC 91 to 13 for separation, Lutheran 42 to 18 for. Finally, on June 30, 1969, the dissolution agreement was signed and we purchased the equity interest of the Lutheran congregation for $30,000.00. Reverend Ishler resigned on July 28, 1965 and on April 24, 1966, Rev. Dunn Paul Zimmerman was hired.
In 1967 we remodeled the parsonage basement into a recreation room with new ceiling and carpeting. In 1969, stands for a guest book and memorial book in the rear of the Sanctuary were built by Wilbert Creyer. Also that year the Ladies’ Bible Class and Women’s Guild merged into the “United Church Women.” Rev. Zimmerman resigned effective April 5, 1970; and passed away at an early age that November. Rev. Rockel, a retired Allentown minister, was hired as interim pastor. On Feb 14, 1971, Rev. John McLoughlin was elected pastor, beginning a quarter century of service to our congregation.
In 1972, the children of Palmer and Clara (Snyder) Hess donated the Schulmerich Magnabell carillon of chimes in their honor. This plays pre-programmed tapes of bell chimes, and the ringing of the steeple bell by pulling on the rope in the back of the church is now but a memory.
Also in 1972 the Oxford school was renovated and rented as a private residence with the income coming to the Church. In 1973, the mortgage from the purchase of the Lutheran interest was paid. At a special meeting on July 15, 1973, the Congregation agreed to renovate the church, replace and re-point bricks, install storm windows, add a new roof on the annex, paint the interiors of all rooms and paint the exterior. The parsonage mortgage was paid off and a mortgage burning ceremony held on November 10, 1974.
The last Twenty-five Years
A telephone was installed in the Fellowship Hall in 1974. The next year we spruced up the Fellowship Hall by buying round tables and colored plastic chairs, and installed fluorescent lighting. The old reversible pews were sold. The new furnishings, plus lights there and in the Sunday School rooms, were contributed in honor of Homer Moyer, our organist and choir director for many decades who passed away on June 7, 1974, by his wife, Irene. The 100th Anniversary celebration was dedicated to Homer’s memory. Long time member Aurel Moyer built a trophy case for the Fellowhip Hall, which is filled with the many bowling and softball trophies won by Snyder’s teams over the years, as well as with other church memorabilia.
New hymnals were purchased in 1976. On December 12, 1976, as part of the country’s bicentennial year, we held a mortgage burning celebration celebrating the final payoff of the purchase from the Lutheran congregation. In 1978 we began the Lehigh Valley Pops Singers under the direction of Ralph Fertig. The group sang at many area nursing homes and church functions as well as performed a yearly concert at the church. Many area singers joined with our members for the fun, fellowship and service. The group reassembled this year for our anniversary celebration.
On May 13, 1979 we dedicated a new sound system which included the installation of a new speaker in the downstairs nursery so that we could provide a place for young children to stay during the service and still permit the caregivers to hear the service. We also modernized the bathrooms in the basement. That year, we voted to discontinue the long-time public picnics due to the unsafe picnic stand and, instead, began a church family picnic. New choir gowns were purchased. The Church roof was repaired and the bricks re-pointed as needed.
Reverend McLaughlin built and moved to a new home in 1980. We began to rent the parsonage after the congregation voted not to sell it. The church constitution was revised in 1981. Flagstone was installed over the front cement landing making the entry into the church more beautiful. The following year we constructed a Secretary’s Office by partitioning off part of the old Primary Sunday School. A rainbow mural was installed on the Primary class wall by the Senior High Sunday School class.
In 1983 we donated the road in front of the Church to East Allen Township which, in turn, agreed to maintain it. We also began a decade long tradition of singing joint Christmas cantatas with the Seventh Day Adventist Church of Allentown, where Vicki Bernard, our organist, was a member. In 1985, the offering plates were re-plated, donated by Doctor and Mrs. E. L. McMilan, and the United Church Women made protective storage sleeves for them. That summer we painted the basement and installed new lights and flooring. Ceiling fans were installed in the Sanctuary. The following year emergency lighting was installed and new lights purchased for the Ladies Aid room. We installed a tile ceiling and ceiling fans in the basement in 1987. The following year, member Wilbert Creyer built a display case for the rear of the Sanctuary to store our original minute book as well as other old church record books. Materials were donated by childhood buddies, Elias Spengler and George Laubach. Aluminum trim was added over the outside woodwork to save on maintenance.
A chair lift was installed in 1990 in memory of Elias W. Spengler, making the Sanctuary handicapped accessible. It was dedicated in January 1991. Later that year, the deteriorating picnic stand was removed. The following year, Harold Kocher Roofing of Chapman installed a rubberized roof over the new addition, guaranteed for 20 years, at a cost of $6,095.00. John and Fran Erkinger fixed up the women’s bathroom in the basement. The following year, our members began to construct new bathrooms by partitioning off the Fellowship Hall. The new Men’s, Ladies’, and Handicapped bathrooms were dedicated in 1995. The United Church Women donated $5,000 toward the project.
In 1993 and 1994, Dick Adams ran in the New York City Marathon (26.1 miles) with donations to his “Run, Dick, Run” campaign going to the building fund. A water purification system was installed in 1995 after the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection determined our water to contain contaminants. Reverend John McLoughlin and John Erkinger installed tile in the basement bathrooms. In August of that year, the Sanctuary was painted by Quay Decorating at a cost of $8,970.00 and the shrubs were replaced along the front and side of the Church at a cost of $1,825.00. In 1996, Bell Atlantic purchased an easement along Valley View Road for a telephone service box for $5,000.00.
After twenty five years serving the Church, Reverend John McLoughlin retired in 1996. A farewell banquet was held in his honor, with most of the Congregation and many friends attending. This book is dedicated to him in respect for all he gave to us. Reverend Wilbur (Bill) Albright was hired as interim minister that October.
In preparation for a new minister and a hoped for revitalized future, we began major building renovations. In March of 1997, the Congregation approved plans to install a pastor’s study in the old Nursery room and a secretary’s office in the old store room behind the Fellowship Hall stage, and to remodel the Sunday School rooms. The architect was Paul J. Schmidt of the Wolf Partnership. The Pastor’s study was donated by Doctor George and Mildred Laubach in honor of his parents, Reverend George and Verona Laubach. We also installed new lights and carpeting in the Sanctuary and on the Fellowship Hall stage. Volunteers sanded and stained the sanctuary pews. The actual work on the remodeling was begun and finished on the office and Sunday School renovations in 1998. The contractor was Paul Vliet. Total cost of the downstairs renovations, not counting the donated study, was $20,313.00. At the same time, we rewired the Sunday School rooms to add individual room switches and upgraded the main electric service to handle our modern power needs. The electric work was done by Ron Silfies of Sparks Electric for $1,900.00. A new amplifier and sound system was installed by, courtesy of Mark and Myrtle Schwartz. The Chancel painting “Christ, the Good Shepherd,” was refurbished in memory of George and Minnie Spengler by the family. A new water purification system was installed by Long’s Water Technology for $1,200.00. Shrubbery was added along the east wall of the church in memory of Elmer O. Kist. Finally, in 1999, Arndt Contruction replaced the down spouting at a cost of $2,200. The remodeling project has really beautified the Church as well as making it more functional for future needs.
In the meantime, we hired a new minister in September, 1998: the Reverend Linda D. M. Magyar. Jennifer Coffin was hired as the organist and choir director. With Chris Vliet as church secretary, we now have an all female staff, a rather amazing change from 125 years ago when women were barely mentioned in the church minutes. With God’s help, we look forward to the new millennium with high hopes for a long and bright future.
The Past, Present and Future of St. Peter’s
What would our ancient church founders living in the 19th Century think if they could see St. Peter’s as we enter the 21st Century? Would they recognize anything familiar to them? When the Church building was constructed, almost totally by hand, it needed wooden sheds along the road to keep the horses warm and dry while their owners worshipped inside. Travel was so slow that worshippers often stayed the whole day when they traveled here for Sunday services. Could our forefathers ever have dreamed of a time when gas powered vehicles riding at 55+ miles per hour on rubber tires over paved roads transported worshippers from many miles away? Instead of hand printed materials, could they imagine televised videotape lessons? Instead of the sexton ringing the steeple bell to call the members to worship, could they predict a self-timed, mechanical carillon playing church hymns to fill the morning air? Would they even understand the services in that ‘auslander’ English preached by a woman pastor? I rather like to think that when the talking got around to God, family values, and worship, they would be on common ground with us and appreciate our efforts to meet our changing community’s needs. We are still that old Snyder’s Church, past, present and future, marching together, hand-in-hand, toward the Third Millennium. We are still St. Peter’s, a church community.
A Note from the Anniversary Committee
to Future Generations
The United Church of Christ dates our founding from 1864, the year the congregation was officially organized and meeting regularly in the old Oxford School. However, we celebrated anniversaries in 1899, 1924 , 1929, 1934, 1939, 1949 and 1954, recognizing 1874, the year in which the vote was taken to build the church and to name it St. Peter’s, as the year of our founding. Although we held a 100th anniversary celebration in 1964, that attempt to adjust our heritage and recognize the original congregation’s founding date did not take. After the union church split in 1969, we held a second 100th Anniversary celebration in 1974.
We continued the traditional anniversary date by celebrating our 125th anniversary in 1999. After serious thought and discussions, we recommend to those succeeding us that we honor the original founding date of 1864 for future celebrations. This means we would celebrate our 150th Anniversary in 2014. We are not just a building, we are a congregation of neighbors, friends and worshippers as we have been since services began in 1864 in the old Snyder’s school house. Whether we meet in an old, abandoned school, or outside in the fresh air as we often do in the Summer, or in the 1875 Sanctuary, we are still an organized gathering of Christians worshipping our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We look forward to the future and the celebration of the next Anniversary celebration of our church family.