A Brief History of The York Church of The Brethren
From 1883-1899 – Elder M. A. Jacobs
The Church of The Brethren in York, began as a Mission in the Codorus Congregation. The Codorus Church was organized in 1758 and soon after numbered in its membership about forty families. The first Elder was Jacob Danner, a son of Michael Danner, a prominent man in the early history of the County and one of the five commissioners appointed to view and lay off York County in 1749. Jacob Danner was among the most intelligent of the first German emigrants west of the Susquehanna, and figured very conspicuously in history. He was a poet of no mean reputation about the year 1750.
Prominent among the first members of the Codorus Congregation in 1758 were Rudy Yunt, Peter Brillharth, John Brillharth, Henry Neff and wife.
The services in general in York County down to about 1810 were held in private houses, barns and schoolhouses.
In 1883 the Codorus Congregation decided to build two Churches, one near New Freedom, the other in York. Elder Jacob Shamberger was in charge of the congregation at this time.
The building Committee for the York Church consisted of Elder Jacob Aldinger, Noah Ness. and David Markey, all living in the vicinity of York. This committee was appointed to purchase a lot and erect a suitable building in or near York. The location they selected was near the Borough line, the site on which, this building now stands. The owner of the lot was Mr. Alexander Smyser, who agreed to sell the lot for $1,200.00, and agreed further that he would contribute $400.00, leaving a balance of $800.00 to be paid in cash.
The building committee proceeded at once with the building which cost $2,625.00 arid was realty for dedication in January, 1884, just 50 years ago. Elder David Long of Maryland, father of Elder Jos. A. Long, of whom you shall hear more today, preached the dedicatory sermon.
The following item appeared in the York Daily, Monday, January 7, 1884: “Yesterday the Brethren held their first meeting in their new brick Church on Belvidere Avenue. Notwithstanding the biting cold weather a large number of persons from the surrounding country were in attendance.”
At this time there were but few members of the Church living within the limits of the York Congregation. There are no records to tell who these members were, but the following is a list which seems to be correct:
Eld. Jacob Aldinger
Mrs. Jacob Aldinger
Mrs. Anna Gladfelter
Mrs. Noah Ness
Mrs. George B. Pfaltzgraff
Mrs. John B. Pfaltzgraff
Mrs. Henrietta Pfaltzgraff
Mrs. Elizabeth Walters
Mrs. Emma Woltz
The York Church was built largely through the earnest efforts of Elder Jacob Aldinger.
Eleven years later, in 1895, the members living in and about York petitioned the congregation for a division of its territory and membership, making York a separate congregation. The inconvenience of members to attend Councils and Love Feasts at Codorus was given as the reason for this request. The request was granted, and in a Council held in the York Church on July 20, 1895, the new organization was affected with Elder Christian Ness retaining the oversight until the following month. Elders present in this Council were S. R. Zug, Jacob Hollinger, Peter Brown and Christian Ness.
On August 24th the Church met again in Council and elected Elder S. R. Zug, Lancaster County, to be their Presiding Elder. Other officials were: Ministers–Jacob Aldinger, Caleb Correll and Jos. A. Long; Deacons–Adam Ness, M. A. Brown and Elias Hollinger; Secretary–Abram S. Hershey; Treasurer-Elias Hollinger. Committees present at this Council were Brethren Andrew Myers and T. F. Imler.
Many problems confronted this new organization, such as preparation for Love Feasts, someone to took after such matters as should arise needing immediate attention, and not necessitating the calling in of the Elder, planning for revival meetings, providing a place for baptizing, selecting trustees, etc.
This same year, 1895, a committee consisting of Brethren Elias Hollinger, M. A. Brown and C. G. Trimmer, were appointed to. make arrangements for a Love Feast, the first to be held in the York Church, and which was held on October 20th, 1895. The cooking for the Love Feast was done in the home of Sister Alice K. Trimmer.
On January 9, 1896, the official Brethren agreed to have the Church elect an assistant Elder, who is to preside over matters not requiring the Presiding Elder’s special attention, Bro. Jos. A. Long, not yet an ordained Elder, was chosen. Brethren Elias Hollinger and Jos. A. Long were the first to represent the York Church as delegates at District Meeting.
This new congregation soon felt the need of help in the ministry, and on April 9th, 1896, called Bro. Jas. P. Lehman to the ministry.
On August 1st, 1996, the Elder appointed Brethren N. C. Baughman, John Krape, Sr., and Tobias Kunkle as trustees of the Church.
The York Church soon had a vision .of the many lost souls in this vicinity, and accordingly, when only a year old, on September 27th 1896, in a special council called after the regular preaching services, by Bro. Long, they agreed to have Bro. S. F. Sanger of Bridgewater, Va., hold a series of meetings early in December, and Bro. John Mohler of Lewistown, Pa., to hold another in the following month. There are no known records available to tell who or how many were received into the Church as a result of these meetings.
The Church immediately began planning for a place suitable for baptism. The following Brethren were appointed a committee for this purpose on November 27, 1896: C. G. Trimmer, Daniel Gladfelter and Harry Flohr. The place selected was on Smith Street.
In Council April 8, 1897, the Church passed a paper to District Meeting calling for the Annual Meeting to be held in York in 1899. The request was not granted.
Following is a copy taken from the Church minutes of Council held July 8, 1897– “It was unanimously agreed that the Church take up the Mission work in the Eastern part of our City, hold services at a suitable point, and trust the work into the hands of a committee to be constituted of the ministering Brethren living in the City; namely, Brethren Long, Correll and Lehman, whose duty it shall be to secure a place of worship, etc., and to oversee all matters relating to this important work. .And it shall be the duty of every member to attend these meetings, and work in this new field when and wherever an opportunity presents itself.”
The Church trustees were asked on April 8th, 1898, to serve as a building committee to erect a kitchen to be used during Love Feast. October 14th of the same year, a new committee wins appointed consisting of Brethren John Baker, N. C. Baughman and John K. Pfaltzgraff. The final outcome was that the Church on January 12th, 1899 decided to build an entirely new Church.
In Council on April 27th, 1899, Elders C. L. Pfoutz and Jacob Hollinger were present and ordained Bro. Jos. A. Long to the Eldership, and on July 13th of this same year Brother Long was elected_ .Presiding Elder to succeed Elder S. R. Zug who had served the Church faithfully for the past four years.
The Church membership had grown remarkably, there now was a membership of 325.