History of lititz trinity

This is the first in a series of twelve articles which will address a variety of subjects relating to Lititz Trinity’s 150 years of history and its service to God.

The first subject to be addressed will be the reason for the change from 2021 to 2022 for the Church’s 150th anniversary celebration. This question has been posed by several members of the congregation.

First it should be pointed out that for the first 97 years of the Church’s existence its anniversaries were celebrated based on the founding date of 1872.

For example, in 1922, from Sunday, June 25 through Sunday, July 2, Trinity (then Trinity United Evangelical), celebrated its 50th anniversary with a week-long program of services. The church sanctuary was elaborately decorated for the occasion (see photograph). Within the arch above the pulpit area was the “50th” in large gold lettering surrounded by an oval frame ornamented with bows and having a background of crepe paper streamers. Below the “50th” hung a large banner containing the word “Jubilee” in gold lettering. While on either wall flanking the pulpit were the dates “1872” and “1922”.

The Church’s 75th Anniversary was celebrated in 1947 with a series of week-long activities beginning May 18 and continuing through May 25.

Then 5 years later, on Sunday, May 18, 1952, the Church observed the 80th anniversary of its founding. For all of these anniversaries there were still members of the congregation living who would've been able to recall the sequence of the Church’s founding. Traditionally the last of the congregation’s “charter members” was Nancy (Weaver) Gingrich who was born in 1860 and lived until 1953 and witnessed all of Trinity’s long history.

Following the 80th anniversary the Church continued to annually celebrate its founding through 1969, the church’s 97th anniversary. Then in 1970 the Official Board voted to change the founding date to 1871, skip the 98th anniversary, celebrate the 99th anniversary in 1970, and the 100th in 1971. How exactly did this change come about? During the February 10, 1970 meeting of the Official Board, Raymond S. Reedy submitted a recommendation regarding the Church’s 100th Anniversary. He stated that “all information indicated the establishment of the church in 1871.” Then, on behalf of the Anniversary Committee, he recommended that the 100th anniversary be celebrated in September of 1971. The recommendation was approved. The board minutes do not provide any documentation or further explanation relating to the “information” establishing 1871 as the new founding date.

The 100th Anniversary booklet published in 1971 reads: “In the month of July, 1871, Rev. A. Shultz, preacher in charge of the Brownstown Circuit, came to Lititz, and held prayer meetings in the home of George Shaffner, on Pine Alley, but could not establish a work.” Both ministers mentioned, Rev. Jacob Newcomer Metzger (1824-1911) and the Rev. Francis P. Lehr (1828-1900), were at one time pastors of the Evangelical Association’s Church on Mulberry Street in Lancaster. Metzger served the Lancaster congregation from 1867 to March of 1870 when he was reassigned to the Dauphin Circuit. He was replaced by Lehr who served both the Water Street and Mulberry Street Churches in Lancaster until he was reassigned in February 1873. So it appears their attempts to establish an Evangelical mission in Lititz between 1870 and 1871 were unsuccessful. Though certainly the Pine Lane house was used for preaching purposes. No documentation could be found to support it being the home of the George Shaffner family. According to the U.S. Census in 1870, the Shaffner family lived in Rothsville and by 1880 they had moved to Lititz and resided at 47 East Main Street.

Interestingly two large leather bound “Record” books, both published by the Evangelical Association in 1872, survive in our Church’s archives. The books are identical except for the manuscript entries contained in them. Both books contain a number of pages at the front of the book where the ministers could record the church’s “Historical Record.” In the first book, the “Historical Record” form “1871” through 1879 was written by a single, unidentified hand, possibly that of Rev. Oplinger (served 1876-1879), the church’s fourth pastor. No entries were made from 1880 until 1887 when yet another unidentified hand, possibly that of Rev. Dilabar (served 1885-1888), the church’s seventh pastor, added several small paragraphs. The record concluded with a single entry written, signed, and dated February 7, 1889, by Rev. Warfel (1888-1891), the church’s eighth pastor.

In the second volume the church’s early history was rewritten by Rev. Warfel probably in 1889-1890. The date of the church’s founding was corrected from 1871 to 1872 and the conference date when the Rev. Shultz (served 1872), the first pastor, was replaced by Rev. Dreibelbis (served 1873-74), the second pastor, was corrected from 1872 to 1873. A manuscript notation on page 90 of the “Record of Members” in the second volume reads: “The former Record [referring to the first volume] was so imperfectly kept by the pastors, that it was a necesity [sic] to get this one and start new…”

In regard to Rev. Abraham Schultz, who all sources agree was Trinity’s first pastor, he wasn’t assigned to the Brownstown Circuit (which Lititz would’ve been part of) until March of 1872 during the meeting of the Annual Conference held in Pine Grove, PA. His appointment is documented by a newspaper article in the March 9, 1872 issue of Lancaster’s “Intelligencer Journal.” The following year, in March of 1873, Rev. Shultz was reassigned by the Conference to the Lancaster Circuit and Rev. Reuben Dreibelbis was assigned to the Brownstown Circuit.

So for the 150th Anniversary it was decided to return to celebrating the documented founding date of 1872 which had previously been observed for the first ninety-seven years of Lititz Trinity’s existence.

The Round House

This article will shine some additional light on the history and eventual fate of the Round House. It was in the Round House that our congregation held its first regular church services in July of 1872. Prior to then services were reportedly held off and on by Rev. F. P. Lehr and Rev. J. N. Metzgar in the stone house located at 24-26 Pine Lane. However, history tells us, they “could not establish a work [meaning a mission or congregation].”   

Unfortunately no actual photograph of the Round House is known to exist, though it is known to have had been a two-story building which was octagonal in shape. The accompanying 1971 artist’s interpretation of the building, drawn by H. M. Eberly for the congregation’s 100th Anniversary, is based strictly on conjecture. Even the exact location of the building has been lost to time. It is known that it was located on Centre St. (today Liberty St.) in what was at the time known as the village of Warwick (now part of Lititz).

The land on which the Round House stood (lots #145 and 146 in the original plan of Warwick) was owned by Charles Rudolph Kreiter (1812-1884), a local millwright and member of the Moravian Church.  The building was originally built by Kreiter to house a “Flying Horse Establishment,” known to us today as a merry-go-round. Interestingly in the August 8, 1870 issue of “The Daily Evening Express,” Lancaster, an advertisement appeared offering for sale a “paraselle of Flying Horse Establishment, in all comprising eight horses and four carriages. Machinery and everything complete can be bought for one hundred dollars; cost three hundred.”  The Flying Horses were offered for sale by Marie Eschbach (1818-1889), the widow of Joseph Eschbach, a Warwick day laborer, who died several days earlier on July 23, 1870. The Eschbachs are buried in the Moravian Cemetery. The relationship between the Eschbachs and Charles Kreiter is unknown, but the Flying Horses are undoubtedly the ones housed in the Round House.

It was in July of 1872 when Rev. Abraham Schultz, pastor of the Brownstown Circuit of the Evangelical Association since March of 1872, came to Lititz to preach.  Shortly thereafter he along with local Evangelicals George Shaffner, John Young, and their wives arranged to rent the Round House from Kreiter for the purpose of holding church services. 

In 1870 George Shaffner (1823-1904), his wife Elizabeth (Reinhold) Shaffner (1820-1892), John Hull Young (1839-1923), and his wife Hettie (Zern) Young (1842-1916), all lived in Rothsville were both George and John were employed as cigar makers. It was probably while living in Rothsville that the two families were first exposed to the Evangelical Church then located in Brownstown.

In March of 1873 Rev. Schultz was transferred from the Brownstown Circuit to the Lancaster Station of the Evangelical Association and Rev. Reuben Dreibelbis took his place as pastor of the Brownstown Circuit which, at the time, included the newly formed Lititz congregation. Dreibelbis continued to hold meetings in the Round House while serving the other congregations in his Circuit. An article in the Jan. 7, 1874 issue of the “Lancaster Examiner and Herald,” reported ... “Protracted meetings [revival services] have been held in this building for about ten weeks, during which time thirty-seven souls have been converted, and six more at present among the mourners [those awaiting sanctification]. The building is entirely too small for the increased size of the charge, and Mr. Young, a leading member, assisted by other brothers, have collected about $500, our citizens responding liberally.  When the sum of $1,000 is reached, work will be immediately commenced on a proposed new church, and before spring another house of worship will be erected through their energy. The proposed church is to be erected in Litiz, on Orange street.”

On May 6, 1874 Rev. Dreibelbis “called a meeting of the members of the congregation at which time it was decided to accept the lot [at our present location] and build a church.” Unfortunately this meeting was one of the pastor’s last acts, he took sick shortly thereafter and died at his home in Brownstown, June 22, 1874, at the age of 41. It was during the pastorate of Rev. Dreilbelbis’ successor, Rev. Christian Schreiner Brown, that the building of the church at our present location proceeded. The cornerstone was laid July 26, 1874,  the Rev. Christian Samuel Haman (1832-1916), presiding elder in the East Pennsylvania Conference, officiated. Three services were held on the occasion with Rev. Haman preaching at each. The services were held “in what was then known as ‘Orchestra Hall,’[in] the present High and Grammar school rooms,” also known as the “town hall” across E. Orange Street from the church building site.

What was to become of the Round House? On March 13,1874, Charles Kreiter sold portions of Lots #145 and 146 where the Round House stood to his brother James Monroe Kreiter (1820-1890). At the time of the sale the boundaries of the property were Centre St. [Liberty St.], Rodney Lane, and Cory Lane. Following James’ death in 1890 his widow Wilhelmina (Robinson) Kreiter (1827-1908) sold the property to Lititz merchant John Randolph Bricker (1841-1906) and Lititz cigar maker and leaf tobacco dealer Samuel Kelso Snavely (1852-1915). It is believed that it was during Bricker and Snavely’s ownership that the Round House was converted into a dwelling.

By December of 1892 the converted Round House was the home of Edward and Emma (Miley) Murr and their three children. Murr, a carpet weaver by trade, at the time was employed as a cigar maker in Brownstown. Apparently on his way home from work on Saturday, December 3rd, he partook of alcoholic beverages, apparently a habit not unfrequent to him. Upon arriving home his wife, fearful for her safety, took their three children and “repaired to the home of her mother in Lititz to spend the night.” Edward didn’t remain at home and “during the evening and until midnight was seen in Lititz and Warwick and filled up with more liquor.” He later returned home “ after which and until three o'clock in the morning he was heard moving about his home, at times yelling very loudly... disturbing the neighborhood.”

At 4:30 a.m. a neighbor living near the former Round House heard a crackling noise and upon investigation discovered that the rear part of the Murr house was on fire. “An alarm was given and Miss Annie Perry ran into the U. B. church near by and rang the church bell” to summon the fire company. “The old hand fire engines were brought into service and the bucket brigade was formed for the purpose of saving the adjoining buildings... although only about three feet of space intervened between the burning one and the ones saved.” The Murr house was a total loss.

The “Lititz Record,” issue of Dec. 3, 1892, reported – “As daylight dawned and the fire was pretty well down, the crowd was horrified to find the charred remains of Murr lying in the northwest corner of the ruins.” The origin of the fire  remains a mystery, though many theories were advanced.

Murr was the son of the late Lewis Murr, a carpet weaver at Warwick, and was 35 years and 3 months old at the time of his death.  Funeral services were held in the Moravian chapel and the remains were laid to rest in the family plot in the Moravian cemetery.

It has been ascertained from the deeds in the Lancaster County Courthouse that the Round House was located somewhere on the land now occupied by the four brick row houses standing at 125-132 Liberty St.

peanut butter eggs

This, the third in a series of articles on Lititz Trinty’s 150 years of history, will address a ministry which, under normal circumstances, would be well underway by the month of March. Many of Trinity’s members, both young and old, for many years would block off a week in the late winter, depending when Easter fell, to pitch in with the making of the church’s famous mouth-watering homemade peanut butter eggs. A week which not only produced $$$’s for the church’s mission work, but provided a week of fellowship, fun, good food, and even more importantly an opportunity for the people who attend the early worship service on Sundays to get to know those who attend the second service and vice versa.

In 1992 Miriam Moury, wife of then Associate Pastor Fred Moury, launched the Peanut Butter Egg Ministry at Trinity, which over the years has grown by leaps and bounds. The profits of which have been used primarily to provide the necessary funds to send Trinity’s youth on week-long Reach Workshops around the country.

During the first year of the egg ministry 500 dozen or 6,000 homemade chocolate covered peanut butter eggs were made. The eggs were always made at the church by volunteers from the congregation along with the church’s youth. The egg production line was always set up in Fellowship Hall. During the first two years of production, however, the batches of peanut butter were mixed in the home kitchens of several ladies. Mrs. Moury would pick up the batches of peanut butter at the ladies’ homes and transport it to the church so work could begin by 8 a.m. By the third year of production several strong-armed men would come to the church at night and mix six batches of peanut butter at a time by hand. The sale of the eggs was handled by the youth, with orders being taken from three to four weeks prior to the start of production. The eggs would be ready for delivery to the purchasers generally one to two weeks prior to Easter. The operation is quite involved with jobs for everyone: mixers who prepare the ingredients, weighers who weight the peanut butter mixture, rollers who roll the eggs, dippers who apply the chocolate coating, drizzlers who apply a simple decoration to the tops of the eggs, labelers who apply the ingredients labels and devotional messages to the styrofoam egg boxes, and finally the packers who carefully pack the eggs. A week of fellowship is enjoyed by all that help, with lunch and supper being prepared and brought in for the workers by other members of the congregation.

The egg count to date by year, in dozens, follows: 1992 - 500; 1993 - 750; 1994 - 1,000 ; 1995 - 850; 1996 - 1,380; 1997 - 1,528; 1998 - 1,693; 1999 - 1,910; 2000 - 2,287; 2001 - 2,220; 2002 - 2,415; 2003 - 3,077; 2004 - 2,989; 2005 - 2,727; 2006 - 2,710; 2007 - 2,472; 2008 - 2,387; 2009 - 3,058; 2010 - 3,009; 2011 - 3,269; 2012 - 3,119; 2013 - 3,234; 2014 - 3,394; 2015 -3,673; 2016 - 3,429; 2017 - 3,247; 2018 - 3,258; and 2019 - 3,358. During the twenty-seven years of production the ministry has produced 68,943 dozen eggs, or 827, 316 individual delicious mouth-watering eggs.

In 2020 orders had been taken and monies paid but due to COVID the egg production had to be cancelled. 50% of the buyers who had purchased eggs donated the funds, as a result $10,000 was netted for the church’s mission work. Egg production was not held in 2021 or 2022, it is hoped the ministry will be restarted in 2023.

Miriam Moury headed the Peanut Butter Egg Ministry through 2001 when Anna Morgan assumed the responsibility, she continued in the position through 2005. In recent years Ryan & Jill Boley and Kyle & Kim Martin have been in charge of the egg making.

The sale price of the eggs gradually rose over the years. In 1992 the eggs sold for $3.50 a dozen, by 2020 they sold for $10 a dozen

Originally the main purpose for the ministry was to raise funds to assist with sending the youth of the church on Reach Workcamps throughout the country. The youth were expected to earn their way by helping with the sale as well as the making of the eggs. For example in 2005 the youth were credited with $1.50 for each dozen of eggs they sold and $3 for each hour they worked, these figures were recorded in their “Reach Account.” In 2005 all but six youth paid nothing to go on the Reach trip, the remaining six each paid less than $100 for the trip.

It should be noted that Reach Workcamps is a company based in Galeton, Colorado. Reach “believes that most people come to know Jesus and/or make a deeper commitment to Him because of relationships.” Each workcamp is designed as a religious experience in which scripture reading, prayer, and discussions about one’s personal relationship with Jesus and “His call on our lives to reach out to people in need,” play an integral part.

The first Reach Workcamps in which Trinity’s youth participated were held in the summer of 1993 when a total of twenty-two youth plus their advisors participated in two workcamps. In July one group of junior high youth, along with their advisors, spent a week in Newport, Tn., where they built a porch and steps, replaced soffit, and completely painted the interior of a home. In August the second group spent a week at Wycliffe Bible Translators’ JAARS base in Waxhaw, N. C., where they participated in the “Jungle Jump-Off” program. The program introduced them to missionary life and included work projects around the base. During the stay the youth slept in stilted “champas and cooked in mud ovens.”

Each year since 1993 up through 2020 Trinity’s youth have participated in a workcamp, in places such as: western New York state; Allen Park, MI; northern Lancaster Co.; Manning, SC; Oak Ridge, TN; Hurricane, WV (3 trips); Uniontown, PA; Niagara Falls, NY (2 trips); Broadalbin, NY; Reston, VA; Oliver Springs, TN; Lampeter, Lancaster Co., PA; Gulfport, MS; the Mississippi Gulf Coast; Monroe, NC; Cairo, NY; John’s Island, SC; Scioto Co., OH; Newfane, NY; Gettysburg, PA; New Jersey; and New Berlin, NY. In 2012 the youth participated in the Lititz Project, similar to Reach, in cooperation with ten other local churches, where the expenses for each project was covered by the responsible church. Then in 2020, due to COVID, the youth participated in “Reach in Your Hometown,” where instead of the larger Reach Workcamp, each local church found its work sites locally, similar to what had been done in 2012.

In more recent years funds generated by the Peanut Butter Egg Ministry have also been used for other mission projects, such as: “Launch Liberia” in 2009; to support Wycliffe Bible translators Dan & Melinda Moury in 2010; and to purchase a new church van in 2011. In 2019 the Missions Savings Account was renamed the “Eggstra Mission Fund” due to it being replenished principally by the annual peanut butter egg sales.

Trinity's own notable artists

This fourth in a series of articles commemorating Lititz Trinity’s 150th Anniversary addresses a little know aspect of the church’s history. From 1889 through the 1927 the church was fortunate to have among its members several very talented artists.

Two of these individuals were brothers Thomas N. Kissinger [1860-1953], and his younger sibling William Miley Kissinger [1870-1941], sons of Warwick Twp. carpenter Joseph S. Kissinger [1822-1907] and his wife Anna (Miley) Kissinger [1823-1907]. The brothers grew up in the Emanuel Lutheran Church, Brickerville, however by the late 1880's and early 1890's the brothers had moved to Lititz and joined the Jerusalem Evangelical Church. Thomas Kissinger married Caroline “Carrie” Amanda (Conrad) Kissinger [1870-1944], May 17, 1888. They were married by Jerusalem’s pastor Rev. Aldus W. Warfel who was pastor of the Jerusalem Church from 1888 to 1891. His brother William married Sarah Ann (Lutz) Kissinger [1872-1952], Dec. 22, 1892, and they were married by Rev. Allen A. DeLong, who was pastor of Jerusalem Church from 1891 to 1894.

It was Thomas who first shared his artistic abilities with the church during the 1889 Christmas season when he painted, on a large piece of white muslin, a “natural looking” coach which covered the pulpit recess during the children’s Christmas program. It was reported that “off the coach the driver stepped, clad in heavy cap, gloves and coat. Six children jumped out of the coach with baskets of sweetmeats, and many more baskets full were taken from the coach before the school was supplied.”

For the Christmas Day 1890, Sunday school exercises Kissinger again drew a canvas set which was used in conjunction with a tableau representing the ten virgins. The set featured a “portrait of the Saviour, and angels with harps in their hands, which could be seen through the gates that stood ajar and through which five of the virgins passed and five could not enter because they came too late and the door was closed.”

The pulpit recess for Christmas 1891 was adorned with a large painting of the Nativity executed by Thomas Kissinger with what appeared to be moving water across its bottom. Then for Children’s Day in June 1893 the pulpit platform was decorated with a large painted canvas by Kissinger depicting a fort and soldiers’ encampment. The canvas was said to have borne “out the programme in scenery better than words could have expressed it.” The theme for the program was “The Christian Soldier.”

In 1891 Thomas Kissinger was appointed a trustee of the church to fill the unexpired term of John Kreiner who had died earlier that year, he continued to serve as a trustee through 1908. He also served as secretary of the church’s Missionary Auxiliary Society for a period of time. Kissinger lived in Lititz where he was first employed in his brother’s pretzel bakery. In later years he was worked as a laborer in the Ideal Chocolate Factory. At the time of their deaths Thomas Kissinger and his wife lived at the Burd-Rogers Memorial Home, Myerstown, Pa., they were are buried in Trinity’s cemetery on W. Orange St., along with Thomas’ parents.

Apparently Thomas’s brother William M. Kissinger shared at least some of his brother’s artistic abilities. For Christmas 1907 William collaborated with John K. Mathers, another artist and members of the congregation, to create a painting of the three wise men following the star as it appeared over the city of Bethlehem. The painting, which covered the pulpit recess, was illuminated by an electrified star which lit up the scene, it was reported “the effect was vastly fine.” This was the only painting known to have been done by William as he left the church shortly afterward and later joined the Reformed Church in Lancaster. William operated a pretzel bakery in Lititz from 1896 until his death in 1941. At the time of his death he lived at 115 Leaman St., Lititz, previously he had lived on N. Cedar St., S. Cedar St., and Water St. He and his wife were buried with his parents and brother Thomas in Trinity’s W. Orange St. cemetery.

Unfortunately no photographs are known to exist of the artwork done by either of the Kissinger brothers.

By far the most talented of Trinity’s early artists was John Kahl Mathers [1875-1949]. He was the son of Lititz cigar maker William K. Mathers [1848-1928] and Caroline “Carrie” (Nels) Mathers [1851-1930]. John’s parents were also members of the Jerusalem and later Trinity Church. On May 31, 1898 John married Kathryn “Katie” B. (Amer) Mathers [1880-1968]. She was the daughter of New Haven, Warwick Twp., coach maker John M. Amer [1857-1923] and Ellen S. (Buch) Amer [1862-1924]. The couple were married by Rev. Albert M. Sampsel, pastor of Trinity from 1895-1899. Katie and her mother were also members of the church prior to her marriage to John, and they, along with John and his parents were all signatories on the petition which called for the separation of the Jerusalem Church from the Evangelical Association in 1894, resulting in the formation of the United Evangelical Church.

The Mathers lived in Lititz, first on S. Broad St., and later at 20 W. Orange St. In John’s early years he was employed as a cigar maker, following in his father’s footsteps, and in later years he worked as a laborer in a Lancaster linoleum factory.

The painted canvas used for Christmas 1907 was the first known canvas of which John Mathers had a part in painting. Unfortunately there is no way to know exactly how many canvases Mathers may have painted over the years, as accounts for each year of the holidays in the church have not survived. For Easter in 1915 he produced a large canvas which stretched across the pulpit recess and depicted “two angels appearing on Easter morn with uplifted hands in front of the tomb where the crucified Christ had been placed three days before and from which He had now arisen.” Reportedly it was an impressive scene and “depicted in picture plainer than words could tell of the risen Christ.”

For Christmas in 1915, Mathers produced another painting which represented the angels proclaiming the birth of Christ. The work was reportedly a reproduction of a famous painting. Rev. Brocius, Trinity’s pastor, “was pleased to announce that there was one within the congregation who was able to copy such a famous artist.”

In 1917 another canvas by Mathers graced the pulpit recess at Christmas. The painting depicted the wise men with their camels following the star. It is possible it may have been the same canvas he and William Kissinger produced in 1907, although the newspaper article attributes it solely to him.

On Easter Sunday 1918, another painting by Mathers, entitled “Resurrection Morn,” filled the pulpit recess. For Christmas in 1919 a large painting of the shepherds, watching their flock by night, with the city of Bethlehem in the distance covered the pulpit recess. It was illuminated by a bright star to bring out the “pretty effects in the picture.” A canopy of laurel illuminated with miniature electric lights surrounded the painting. This is the only one of Mather’s paintings of which a photograph was taken, the photograph accompanies this article and shows John Mathers posed with the painting.

For Easter 1922, a painting was not featured but rather Mathers devised for the pulpit platform a large cross lighted with red lights encircled by a crown illuminated with white lights. The cross and crown were in harmony with the exercise of the day”Life and Light.”

On Christmas 1922, a “large religious picture” was reported to have been painted by Mathers, however the subject of the painting has been lost to time. For Christmas 1927 Mathers is known to have painted the scenery for a tableau used during the cantata performed by the Senior Choir under the direction of his wife. This was the last painting he is known to have painted for the church. However, he continued to assist with decorating the church for various occasions up through 1936.

Both John Mathers and his wife Katie were actively involved in Trinity’s church life. John sang in the church’s choruses and choir, directed a men’s chorus, served as secretary of the Missionary Auxiliary Society, served as a trustee from 1923 through 1935, and was treasurer of the Usher’s League for many years. In 1926 he and Pastor Heisey were appointed to a committee to draw up plans for a future church. And for over forty years he taught the Young Men’s Bible Class, later known as the Men’s Bible Class, as well as the Friendly Fellows Bible Class. The Men’s Bible Class, with Mathers as its teacher, worked to raise funds for the new church. In Jan. 1935 the gave $1,100 to the church and three months later donated another $500. Then in Sep. 1935 the class decided to purchase the beautiful Rose Window we have the privilege to enjoy each Sunday when we attend worship services. The window was dedicated Oct. 18, 1935. In 1916 he was so appreciated by the Young Men’s Bible Class that he taught, that at Easter they presented him with an Easter basket containing a $10 gold piece, the equivalent of $243 in 2020 dollars.

Katie Mathers directed Trinity’s choir from 1923 to 1932, served as the church organist in the early part of the 20th century, and taught Sunday school for over forty years. Over the years the couple opened their home for cake and candy sales, class meetings, and prayer meetings.

The Mathers had four children: Earl Stehman [1900-1977], John Everett [1905-1928], Hazel Elizabeth [Heim, Wilson; 1910-1993] and Willard Eugene [1917-1982]. On May 18, 1939, their daughter Hazel married widower Rev. Claude Stephen Heim, pastor of Trinity from May 1937 until May 1,1939.

Unfortunately none of John Mathers’ canvases that he executed for the church have survived, however, two painting by him are known to exist in the possession of his descendants.

Mathers, his wife Katie, and son John Everett are all buried in Trinity’s cemetery on W. Orange St.

Trinity and Memorial Day and its Fighting Ministers

This is the fifth on a series of monthly historical articles which celebrate Lititz Trinity’s 150 years of history.

The Memorial Day holiday, originally known as Decoration Day, was first celebrated May 30, 1868, “for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion [American Civil War], and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.”

Exactly when Lititz began celebrating Decoration Day has not been determined, however, by May 1878, the first May the Litiz Record was published, a parade was held and the graves of the Civil War veterans on the Moravian Cemetery were decorated by surviving veterans.

The first known involvement in the annual celebration by a pastor of the Jerusalem Evangelical Church, today Trinity E. C. Church, was on Saturday, May 29, 1886. On that date a parade formed at the Sturgis House and moved down Main Street to the Moravian Cemetery. At the cemetery the graves of fallen soldiers were decorated, after which an address was given by Evangelical Pastor Augustus Dilabar. He began his memorial address

“...by alluding to the beginning of the rebellion, when the president's call was for 75,000 men, but at every subsequent call for troops the north answered, ‘we are coming, Father Abraham,’ 200,000 strong, and millions more behind us, if necessary. Twenty-five years have come and gone, and standing beside our patriot dead today with flowers in our hands to decorate the graves of our fallen soldiers, we may reverently thank God that through all this mighty land the shadow of our flag falls neither upon foe or slave. This day is being observed throughout all the United States, whose citizens have abandoned for a time the busy associations of life in order to strew with flowers, the graves of our fallen brothers.

The south said she would divide that fair land, and destroy the republic, but the north said, No, never; the republic must be preserved and the union remain unbroken, even at the expense of our lives. The man of God left his pulpit, the farmer his plow, the lawyer his client, the clerk fled his desk, the student closed his books, the mechanic flung down his tools, the laborer threw away his implements; they left home and dear ones so they might keep our land from rent, our flag from stain. They patiently lived, they bravely died. Our relation to these sacred dead signifies obligation to them. We are their debtors, and that not only in an account that cannot be paid, but also in duties that we can render. It is to perform the duties that we perform today.

In conclusion he said that each returning year shall add new graves to the soldiers' plot, but so long as our people shall love liberty and courage, our children and our children's children will come to strew with flowers the graves of our union soldiers. Your memories will be kept green by similar ceremonies as we perform today. And oh, let us all remember that whatever this country is — its peace, its unity and its prosperity is the heritage of the grand army, both living and dead. And when the conflict of life is over, may we all enjoy eternal victory over all our enemies.”

The following year, 1887, the Stevens Post #517 of the Grand Army of the Republic of Lititz assembled on Sunday evening May 29, at 7 p.m., at Brobst Hall and proceeded to a commemorative service in the Jerusalem Evangelical Church. The following day, May 30, Rev. Dilabar pronounced the benediction following the decoration of the veterans’ graves in the Moravian Cemetery.

In the years that followed many of the church’s pastors participated in the annual celebration at the various cemeteries. For example in 1888 Rev. Aldus Warfel offered the benediction, in 1891 Rev. Allen A. DeLong delivered a brief address at the cemetery at Kissel Hill and delivered the benediction at the Moravian Cemetery. Other of Trinity’s pastors who participated in the Decoration Day services through the years included: Rev. Isaac J. Reitz and Rev. Charles E. Hess, both of whom delivered the Gettysburg Address in 1899 and 1904 respectively, Rev. David S. Stauffer, Rev. Perry T. Brocius, Rev. Joseph S. Harper, Rev. Samuel A. Heisey, and Rev. Claude S. Heim.

On Sunday evening, May 29, 1892, Rev. DeLong delivered a memorial sermon to the Stevens Post, No. 517 of the G.A.R., in the church. “Having been a soldier in the rebellion himself, and having undergone many hardships, he spoke with experience. His sermon was reprinted in its entirety in the Jun. 10 issue of the “Lititz Record.” For the occasion the church was appropriately decorated, a “Union flag covered the rear wall of the pulpit recess, while the pulpit and a small stand... were covered with the stars and stripes.” In front of the pulpit were “stacked three army muskets with fixed bayonets, to which were fastened a leather army belt and cartridge box, and over these was a cluster of white flowers,” while large bouquets of flowers stood on the pulpit and small stand. These annual services were rotated among the town’s churches. Trinity is known to have hosted the services in 1895,1898, 1905, 1909, 1915, 1919, and 1924.

On May 25, 1918, during World War I an American flag was raised over the Roebuck Memorial Fountain in the town square. As the G.A.R. veterans placed the pole and flag in place the audience sang “The Star Spangled Banner,” after which Trinity’s Rev. Joseph S. Harper read an interesting sketch on the significance of the flag. Rev. Frederick A. Weicksel (1867-1948), pastor of the Lutheran Church, delivered the evening’s address and accepted the flag on behalf the borough. The following year, on Sunday, May 25, 1919, Rev. Harper delivered the annual sermon to the Stevens Post No. 517 of the G.A.R., also in attendance were “the sons of veterans, and all soldiers of the Spanish and world wars residing in the vicinity.” His text was taken from Mark 12:17, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s,” his theme was “Patriotism That Rings True.” During the sermon Harper “condemned in strongest terms... [the] Bolshevist movements in this and [the] European countries.” The service contained special patriotic songs including “Song of the Flag” sung by a thirty-two voice chorus and a very “touching and beautifully worded” solo by Hiram Reedy entitled “The Lads Who Won’t Return.” The decorations consisted of crossed American flags around the three sides of the sanctuary, together with the Stevens G. A. R. Post flag. From the center of the ceiling hung a group of six American flag amid a basket of red, white, and blue flowers. The chancel rail was draped with red, white and blue bunting and overhead was hung an immense flag, while another American flag covering the pulpit recess. Flanking the pulpit platform were stacked army muskets along with the church’s WWI Service Flag containing twenty stars.

Twenty-nine years later, on Apr. 7, 1948, Lititz sign painter John S. Witmyer was authorized to make “Service Plaques” or “Honor Rolls” containing the names of those who served in the military during World War II. The idea of the plaques had first been proposed shortly after the end of the WWII in 1945. Two plaques were made, one honored those members of Trinity who served in WWI and a second recognized those who served in WWII. The two plaques cost $43.80, and were ready by Memorial Day 1949. In later years a third plaque was added to honor those who served in the Korean Conflict and Vietnam. For many years these plaques hung in the church narthex, then in 2020 they were taken down and later in April 2021 rehung the new “Heritage Room,” formerly Pastor Fry’s study on the first floor of the church.

Trinity’s Fighting Pastors — Two of the Jerusalem Church’s former pastors served our country during the Civil War. The first was Rev. Benjamin D. Albright, who was pastor from 1882 to 1885. The second was Rev. Allen A. DeLong, who was pastor from 1891 to 1894.

Rev. Albright [b. 1842 - d. 1917] served as a private in Durell’s Independent Battery D, Pennsylvania Artillery, 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, 9th Corps. He enlisted Sep. 24, 1861, and was discharged Sep. 23, 1864. Among the battles he and his unit participated in were Manassas, Fredricksburg, Bull Run, Antietam, South Mountain, Vicksburg, and Petersburg.

Rev. DeLong [b. 1845 - d. 1908], also a private, served in Company C of the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry. He enlisted Mar. 1, 1864, and was discharged Jul. 22, 1865. He along with his regiment participated in the battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Petersburg, North Anna, Cold Harbor, and Totopotamy Creek. He was a guard at the second inauguration of President Lincoln, Mar. 4, 1865, and took part in the Grand Review of the Armies at Washington D. C., Mar. 23-24, 1865, at the close of the war. Both Albright and DeLong were active members of the Grand Army of the Republic.

Evangelical Camp Meetings

This is the sixth in a series of twelve monthly articles celebrating 150 years of Lititz Trinity’s history.

For many years during the late 19th and early 20th centuries the annual camp meeting played an important role in the Evangelical Church. The earliest such meetings were held by the Evangelical Association, also commonly referred to as “Albright Methodists,” the forerunner of the United Evangelical Church and the Evangelical Congregational Church. The first camp meeting following the formation of the Lititz congregation in 1872 and the camp meeting for 1873 were both held in Brownstown. Following the establishment of the Lititz and Manheim Mission in 1875 the annual camp meeting for that year was held in Manheim. In 1876 the camp meeting returned to the Brownstown camp grounds, located within the present day boundaries of W. Main St., the Oregon Pike, Zook Mill Rd., and Hillside Dr. In 1877 the camp meeting returned to Manheim and in 1878 it was held in Ephrata, in the grove of the Ephrata Mountain Springs Hotel. Then in 1879 the camp meeting was held in Sinking Spring, Berks Co. The following year, 1880, and continuing through 1886 the camp meetings were once again held back in Brownstown.

In 1887 following the division of the Lititz and Manheim Mission into two separate missions, members of the Lititz congregation along with its ministers became actively involved in the planning of the local camp meetings. In 1887 the camp meeting was moved to Lititz to what, at the time, was known as Bollinger’s Grove (until 1896), later Usner’s Grove (until 1898), and still later Snavely’s Grove. The grove consisted of twenty-one acres of land bounded by the “Lititz to Petersburg Rd.” (W. Second Ave./Woodcrest Ave.), the Lancaster Lititz Turnpike (S. Broad St.), and Machpelah Cemetery. The camp meeting continued to be held in Lititz through 1901 except for 1894, when it was held in Manheim, and 1900, when no camp meeting was held. No camp meeting was held locally in 1902 and then in1903 the Harrisburg and Reading Districts of the Evangelical Church planned a joint camp meeting to be held in John S. Wolf’s Grove in Millway, Warwick Twp. The grove was located on Millway Rd., between Meadow Valley Rd. and Erb’s bridge, with its entrance across from the house at 830 Millway Rd. The camp meetings continued to be held in Millway through 1915. Following the death of John Wolf in May of 1916 his family decided they no longer wished to rent the camp ground for camp meeting purposes.

After 1915 the United Evangelical Church no longer held camp meetings in Lancaster Co., except in Aug. 1924 when a camp meeting was held by the U. E. Churches of northern Lancaster County on the grounds of the Washington St. School in Ephrata. Instead the church’s camp meetings were held at places such as Herndon Camp Meeting Grove, Herndon, Pa. (established in 1901), Waldheim Park near Allentown, Pa. (established in 1904), and Rosedale Camp Grove, Laureldale, Pa. (established in 1909), all of which offered permanent cottages instead of canvas tents.

The camp meetings were generally very regimented. A typical day consisted of the following: rising at 5:30 a.m.; prayer-meeting at 6 a.m.; family worship at 6:45 a.m.; breakfast at 7 a.m.; prayer-meeting at 8:30 a.m.; preaching at 10 a.m.; dinner at 12 noon; prayer meeting or children’s service at 1 p.m.; preaching at 2:45 p.m.; supper at 5 p.m.; prayer-meeting at 6:30 p.m.; preaching at 7:45 p.m.; and retiring at 10 p.m.

The following is a report of the Aug. 1892 Evangelical camp meeting held in Bollinger’s Grove in Lititz, extracted from the Aug. 19, 1892 issue of the “Lititz Record.”

“THE LITITZ CAM P MEETING. Favored with Good Weather Throughout and a Good Attendance—The Closing Exercises.

This was the fourth year of the Lititz camp meeting held in Bollinger's grove, but never before were they favored with as propitious weather as this year. Hardly any rain fell during the eight days of its continuance, although a good shower would have been hailed with delight in order to allay the dust.

The many services held throughout the week always seemed to be well and liberally patronized not only by campers and members, but also by people from Lititz and surrounding country. There was continually an able corps of ministers present to assist in making the exercises interesting and varied, while the number of excellent voices in good training added much to the vocal department of the services so highly necessary in order to give life to active camp meeting. In fact the vocal music was one of the leading features and they were not sparing in meting it out for the benefit of their hearers.

On Sunday was of course the big day for leading sermons and a big crowd. From early morning until sunset in the evening people came in continually by railroad and conveyance. The streets through town and out toward the grove were kept in noisy state without cessation, causing any one to almost forget that it was the Sabbath day.

The attendance is variously estimated at from 4000 to 6000 people. Yet with all this driving and walking and the large number of vehicles hitched in the two groves adjacent to the campus there were comparatively few driving accidents and no runaways so far as we could learn. But the dust in and around the woods was almost stifling, and those who remained there any time came away well covered with a coating of gray dust.

The Sunday morning sermon was preached by Bishop C. S. Haman, of Reading, who held his audience spellbound during its delivery. In the afternoon Rev. S. S. Chubb, the presiding elder, of Reading, also delivered very good sermon. Many other ministers also occupied the pulpit. Among the most earnest and active preachers present was Rev. A. W. Warfel, of Shamokin, formerly of Lititz, whose leadership was worth a good deal.

During Sunday Mr. Ritchie, who conducted the refreshment stand and boarding house, was not allowed to sell ice cream and soft drinks but was permitted to sell eatables, and disposed of one hundred dozen sandwiches and twelve barrels of bretzels.

On Tuesday afternoon Rev. B. J. Smoyer, corresponding secretary of the missionary society, preached an excellent and forcive sermon, and appealed to his hearers for financial assistance. A missionary subscription was afterwards taken and the sum of $250 was raised.

The closing exercises took place on Wednesday evening about sunset. A large circle was formed, and passing from one to the other until the last one was reached, they bade one another farewell with a hearty handshake and engaged in singing at the same time. Many were affected while these proceedings were in progress to such an extent that they wept. After this was over, they gathered around the preacher's stand and continued to sing for some time before it came to a close, while in the meantime many became happy and shouted and clapped their hands for joy. Thus closed the Lititz camp meeting for 1892.”

Epidemics, Pandemics and Trinity

This is the seventh in a series of twelve monthly articles celebrating 150 years of Lititz Trinity’s history.

It might seem that this is somewhat of an unusual subject to address, however in light of what we as a congregation have experienced since Mar. 2020 up until the present time, I felt it was an appropriate subject. Trinity closed its doors to services due to COVID on Mar. 8, 2020, and did not reopen until Oct. 11, 2020. Though during the summer of 2020 services were held first at the Bomberger Rd. cemetery and later in Lititz Springs Park. We, as individuals, were asked by the government to wash our hands, wear masks, social distance, and get vaccinated. Many complied, others resisted.

Would you believe dealing with pandemics and epidemics was nothing new to Trinity. The only difference between today and earlier years was that our church, along with all of the churches in Lititz, the schools, factories, businesses, etc., were told when to close and when to reopen by the Lititz Board of Health. Their ruling was mandatory, one had to comply, there was no choice in the matter.

What is believed to be the first instance of a mandatory closure of the church occurred at the end of Jan. 1913, when the Lititz Board of Health took what was viewed as an “unprecedented move of closing all the public schools, churches, and Sunday schools, and places of amusements in the borough.” The ban was for a two week period, due to several cases of diphtheria discovered in the town. At a special meeting of the Board of Health, Feb. 12, 1913, the ban was lifted “however they requested that the residents be strict with quarantine rules, so as to prevent further restrictions.” Trinity’s Pastor John W. Woehrle reportedly commented on the two week quarantine during his sermon on Feb. 16, he stated that as “he mingled with the people... the majority sadly missed the usual Sunday services and Sabbath schools, which seemed to indicate that a community without churches would be deplorable, to say the least.”

In Sep. 1916, Trinity was forced to postpone its Rally Day services until mid-October as result of an infantile paralysis or polio epidemic which was raging through the northeastern U.S. All children under the age of sixteen were placed under quarantine restrictions. Lancaster city recorded its first case on Aug. 15, by Aug. 19 there were 450 cases statewide.

Then in 1918, during WWI, the Spanish Flu pandemic hit, infecting 500 million people world wide. It is believed the Spanish Flu was carried to the U.S. aboard the troop ships returning from Europe. According to one historian more U.S. soldiers died from the Spanish Flu than were killed in action during WWI. The Spanish Flu first hit Lititz in Oct. 1918. On Oct. 4 the borough schools closed, the next day the hotels were closed and Linden Hall was placed under quarantine. Instructions were issued to avoid crowds and poorly ventilated rooms, eat good foods, keep your bedroom windows open, and “don’t get anyone’s breath.” The fumigation of homes was urged, especially where death had occurred. By Oct. 10 two hundred and fifty cases were reported in town, even the town’s doctors were hard struck. Beginning Sunday, Oct. 13, all church services and activities were canceled throughout the town, the churches remained closed until Sunday, Nov. 10. The first Lititz resident to die was thirty-one year old Chester G. Spickler, associate editor of the Lititz Record. He was followed on the same day by Trinity member twenty-nine year old Paul Petry. Petry, who served as an usher and steward in the church, was a “man of robust health, a giant in build and of splendid physical proportions” and “had a heart that for kindness corresponded to his big physical self.” By Nov. 7 the newspaper reported that the “town [was] almost free of influenza.” Trinity reopened for services Sunday, Nov. 10, when Holy Communion was served during both the morning and evening services.

In 1919 Trinity’s annual Sunday school Easter program, scheduled for Easter Sunday, Apr. 20, had to be cancelled due to a measles epidemic in the town. At the time about 200 children in the Lititz school were afflicted with the disease. The Easter program was rescheduled for Sunday, May 4. Later, during the late summer, the flu once again resurfaced, however there is no indication that church services or Sunday school were affected.

Then in Feb. 1923, the Spanish Flu once again appeared. The “Lititz Record” reported that Rev. George Imboden and about thirty members of Trinity were sick with the flu and Presiding Elder Rev. E. S. Wooding, of the Harrisburg District, had to deliver the sermon and preside over Holy Communion on Sunday, Feb. 11.

In late Jan. 1924 Trinity, along with the United Brethren, St. Paul’s Lutheran, and the Moravian Churches, participated in union evangelistic services which opened in the United Brethren Church. The services were conducted by the Newell Brothers, evangelists of McKeesport, Pa. The Newell Brothers were comprised of Rev. Harry H. Newell, who did the preaching, his brother Bertram H. Newell, an accomplished trombonist, and his brother George A. Newell, pianist. The evangelists were scheduled to be in each of the four churches for five or six nights each, excepting Mondays. The services in Trinity were scheduled from Thursday, Feb. 7-12. The Jan. 31 issue of the Lititz Record reported that the services were so successful that “every meeting has attracted overflow houses and as many as several hundred persons at one time were turned away.

A week later, Feb. 7, 1924, the Lititz Record reported the cancellation of the services as a result of Rev. Harry H. Newell being diagnosed with small pox. Initially it was announced that each church would continue with its regular worship services and those individuals that had attended the services were instructed by the county medical director “to see their physician at once and be vaccinated.” Newell was placed in the isolation ward at the Lancaster Hospital and over twenty persons at the Springs Hotel, where the Newells were staying, were quarantined and the hotel closed indefinitely. The newspaper reported that the only church services to be held on Sunday, Feb. 17, would be in the United Evangelical Church, all others churches and Sunday schools were closed. The Feb. 21 issue of the newspaper reported that the quarantine had been lifted but by the following week’s issue, Feb. 28, two cases of small pox had surfaced in the town. All special gatherings, including all church services and Sunday schools were forbidden through Mar. 13. At the same time the Board of Health issued the following regulations: “1.—All persons who attended the Union services held in Lititz during the month of February and all others who have not recently had a successful vaccination must be vaccinated immediately. Failure to comply with this order will result in a personal quarantine, the breaking of which is punishable with a fine of $100 or a jail sentence of 30 days. 2.—Industrial plants may be operated only if their managements compel all employees to be vaccinated. 3.—All churches and Sunday schools are ordered closed. 4.—All general gatherings for social, athletic or business purposes are forbidden.” By Mar. 20 approximately 4,100 persons in Lititz and the immediate area had been vaccinated and the disease had been eradicated.

Seventeen years later on Aug. 31, 1941, the Lititz Board of Health ordered the suspension of all Sunday schools in the borough and delayed the opening of the public schools due to an outbreak of infantile paralysis or polio. In addition they cancelled all sporting events and public gathering. During this period the borough churches were permitted to hold their regular worship services, however Sunday schools were not permitted to be held until Sunday, Sep. 28.

Four years later in Dec. 1945 an epidemic of flu and colds raged through the public schools, as a result all of the Christmas programs scheduled to be held by the local churches on Sunday, Dec. 23, were postponed or cancelled. In Trinity the annual Christmas candlelight service was held at 7 p.m. on Dec. 23, but the Sunday school program scheduled for the morning was cancelled. The Christmas gifts for Trinity’s children were distributed the following Sunday, Dec. 30, by which time the ban had been lifted.

In Feb. 1952 yet another virus outbreak occurred resulting in the closing of the public schools and a ban on Sunday schools from Wednesday, Feb. 6 through Monday, Feb. 11. A similar instance occurred in Feb. 1955 when the Board of Health closed the public schools, recreation center, Sunday schools, theatre and the bowling alleys to children of school age from Monday, Mar. 31 through Monday, Feb. 7, due to a virus detected in the public schools.

It appears that 1955 was the last time that church services or Sunday school sessions could not be held due to an epidemic or pandemic until COVID struck in Mar. 2020, a period of sixty-five years.

Trinity’s Sunday School and Church Picnics

This is the eighth in a series of twelve historical articles commemorating the 150th anniversary of Lititz Trinity.

It is believed that our church’s first Sunday school picnic was held on Saturday, Aug. 19, 1884, in the Lititz Springs Park. The picnic was held by the Sunday schools of the Lititz and Manheim Mission. Reportedly the occasion was enlivened by the Manheim Liberty Band which provided the day’s entertainment.

In 1885, rather than picnicking locally, over 400 members of the Jerusalem Sunday school took an excursion by railroad to Penryn Park in Lebanon Co. The days activities included sight-seeing, a trip up the sixty-foot observation tower, hunting berries, exploring the park’s wilderness, boating, and relaxing on the swings located throughout the park. Penryn Park was also the location of the annual picnic in 1886, 1888, 1889, 1891, and 1893. In 1886 the Jerusalem Sunday school was joined by the Sunday schools of the Akron, Brownstown, and Rothsville Evangelical Churches, with approximately 750 people in attendance.

In 1887 the Sunday school picnic was held on Tuesday, Jul. 19, when our Sunday school was joined by the Moravian Sunday school on the one and only excursion to Mt. Gretna. It was decided to travel to Mt. Gretna instead of Penryn Park as it was thought that Mt. Gretna was “more romantic, more beautiful, and having many advantages that Penryn does not have, besides giving [the] excursionists an opportunity to pass the famous Cornwall ore mines.”

On all of these early train excursions the attendees were always accompanied by a local musical group or band which provided the day’s music. For example in 1887 the “Lititz Sextette” and nine musicians attended, the following year the Lititz Brass and Reed Band provided the entertainment, and in 1889 the Brunnerville Band was in attendance.

A highlight of the 1889 picnic to Penryn Park was a baseball game between the “Lebanon Grays and the Hazelton club, the latter having a battery from the Carlisle Indian Industrial School.” In 1891 the featured activity of the day was a baseball game between the married and single men, which the latter won by a score of 24 to 5. “The married men, however, claim the game 9 to 0, by reason of the single men leaving the field.” This was the first mention of a baseball game played by a team comprised of church or Sunday school members.

On the last excursion to Penryn Park in 1893 the Jerusalem Sunday school was joined by St. Paul’s Lutheran Sunday school. The excursion was held on Saturday, Jul. 29, the round-trip train tickets for the day cost forty-five cents for adults and twenty-five cents for children, and the Lititz Band accompanied the excursionists. Unfortunately the day was dampened on the return trip when the brakeman, thirty-seven year old Samuel H. Little of Columbia, crawled on top of the freight car next to the first passenger car to fix a bell rope and was struck by a bridge overpass and instantly killed.

In 1890, 1892, and 1894, the Jerusalem Sunday school held it annual picnic in the Lititz Springs Park rather then traveling out of town on an excursion, a precedent which continued up through 1937 with one exception. In 1904 the Sunday school took an excursion, Wednesday, Jul. 13, to Rocky Springs Park. On the day of the picnic the Christian Alliance camp meeting was being held there, the cost of a round trip ticket from Lititz to the park was thirty-five cents for adults, thirty cents for children ages 5-12, and children under five traveled free. Over 250 tickets were sold.

Generally between 1895 and 1913 Trinity’s Sunday school held its own picnic in the park, however, there were some exceptions. In 1897 the church’s Sunday school was joined by the U. E. Sunday schools from Rothsville and Brownstown. The following year a joint picnic was held with the U. E. Sunday schools of Lititz, Akron, Brownstown, and Rothsville. Then in 1899 the four previously mentioned churches were joined by the U.E. Sunday school from Adamstown. In 1900 and 1901 only the Lititz and Akron Sunday schools joined together for the event. The remaining years between 1894 and 1913 the Sunday school held its own picnic with the exception of 1910 when Trinity and St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church held their picnic on the same day. The two churches jointly engaged Beck’s Concert Band to provide the day’s entertainment. In 1914 representatives of the United Evangelical, United Brethren, St. Luke’s Reformed, and St. Paul’s and St. James Lutheran Sunday schools met and decided that the Sunday schools would join together and hold a union picnic. The first union picnic was held on Thursday, Aug. 12, in Lititz Springs Park, where they continued to be held through 1937. The committees that planned the joint picnics were made up of members of all of the participating churches. Although some people made the picnic an all-day event, most didn’t arrive until the afternoon. Notably on the day of the picnic the town’s stores and many of its industries closed at noon which allowed their employees to attend.

In 1919, following the merger of St. James Lutheran Church with St. Paul’s Lutheran Church the picnic was organized by four rather than five Sunday schools. Then in 1924 and again in 1927, when for the first time the Moravian Church joined the U.E., Lutheran, Reformed, and United Brethren Churches in the joint picnic, a record attendance of approximately 3,000 people were recorded.

In 1931 the big feature of the day was the introduction, for first time, of a baseball game between teams composed of players from all five churches. One team, known as the “Cedar Street Terrors” was made up of members of the Evangelical Congregational and United Brethren Churches, while the other team, known as the “All-Around Wildcats”was composed of members of the Lutheran, Reformed, and Moravian Churches.

In 1938 the tradition of a union picnic came to an end. In its place in 1938, Trinity took the children of the Sunday school by automobile to Penryn Park on Saturday, Jul. 30. The records of Trinity’s Sunday school picnics between the years 1939 and 1944 are incomplete. In 1939 the picnic was held in Williamson Park, Lancaster, in 1940 & 1944 it was held in the Ephrata Park, for 1941 & 1942 the location has been lost to time, and in 1943 the picnic was held in Lititz Springs Park.

In 1945 and 1946 union picnics were once again attempted to be held in Lititz Springs Park, however, due to inclement weather both events were rained out on the day they were scheduled.

In 1947 Trinity’s Sunday school returned to holding its own picnic. Through the years the picnic eventually developed into an all-church picnic and is still being held today. In 1947, 1948, and 1952 the Sunday school picnic was combined with the Vacation Bible School Picnic. In 1947 the picnic was held on Saturday, Jun. 19, at Tall Timbers, formerly known as Poplar Grove, near Brickerville, with the children being transported on an open stake-bed truck from Tall Timbers to Spring Lake for swimming. The following year, 1948, it was held at Spring Lake on Saturday, Jun. 19, and in 1952 in the New Holland Park.

Beginning in 1949 the annual picnic again returned to being solely a Sunday school picnic except for 1952 and 2003 through 2006 when it was once again combined with the Vacation Bible School picnic. In 2007 it became an all-church event and has remained such until the present day. In 1949 the picnic was held in Lititz Springs Park. In 1950 and 1951 its location was moved to the Ephrata Community Park. Then from 1952 through 1959 it was held in the New Holland Park. In 1960 the picnic returned to the Lititz Springs Park where it has remained up until the present day. From 1949 through 1963 the picnics were held on a weekday, generally on a Thursday, with few exceptions. In 1964 the day of the week on which the picnic was held was changed to Saturday, except in 1976, America’s bicentennial year, when it was held on a Sunday. Picnics were not held in 1971, as “no suitable date was available,” in 2018 it was cancelled due to rain, and in 2020 it was cancelled due to COVID.

We look forward with great anticipation to the 2022 picnic to be held in the Lititz Springs Park, Saturday, Sep. 10, to be followed by a concert at 4 p.m., by David Phelps, noted American Christian music vocalist, songwriter and vocal arranger. Plan to attend!

Trinity’s Rally Day/Harvest Home

This is the ninth in a series of twelve articles focusing on Trinity’s 150 years of history and service to the Lord.

The first mention of Rally Day and Harvest Home in relationship to Lititz Trinity occurred in 1903, during the second pastorate of Rev. Aldus W. Warfel. Matter-of-fact the term “rally” has not been found in either the official church records or any newspaper articles related to the church from its founding in 1872 up until 1903. During the same period the annual fall celebration of Harvest Home was also not to be found.

Apparently it was Rev. Warfel who introduced both Rally Day and Harvest Home to Trinity. In 1903 the celebration of Rally Day and Harvest Home were combined into one service, held Sunday, Sep. 20, at 1:30 p.m. Rev. Benjamin D. Albright of Lancaster, former pastor of the church, was present and delivered the address and Pastor Warfel reviewed the lesson for the day. Reportedly the church was decorated with flowers and potted plants and the service consisted of “special singing” and letters of greetings from a number of the church’s former pastors. In attendance were 291 members and friends, which was exceptional for the time, when one considers the church’s membership stood at 179.

By the fall of 1904, Pastor Warfel had been replaced by Pastor Charles E. Hess who served Trinity from 1904 to 1908. In 1904 Harvest Home and Rally Day were celebrated on Oct. 10 with services throughout the day. At 10 a.m. an “Old People’s Service,” which had been introduced into the church by Pastor Warfel in Oct. 1902, was held. The service was conducted in German with a printed program containing the German hymns to be sung. Then at 1:30 p.m. the Sunday school rally was held and at 7 p.m. in the evening a young people’s service was held. Throughout the day Pastor Hess reportedly had a “great deal to say on the harvest subject and made his talk plain and interesting, taking the cultivation and uses of the apple as his main theme.”

In 1905 Harvest Home and Rally Day were held on Sunday, Oct. 9, and the church was “neatly decorated with an assortment of seasonable vegetables.” Again the morning service was an Old People’s Service, the sermon and hymns were presented in German, and the guest speaker was Rev. Wm. Jonas, of St. Paul, Minn. The afternoon services were devoted to the Sunday school rally, during which Rev. Jonas delivered an address, and Miss Mary Stoner, assistant principal in the public schools, “recited interestingly.” Miss Stoner also played the violin, Harry Gingrich played the cornet, and a male chorus, comprised of Hiram Reedy, Warren S. Buch, Walter H. Buch, Harry Workman and William Fassnacht, rendered a selection. A novel feature was a potato march, planned by Supt. Walter H . Buch. Each Sunday-school attendant brought one potato which, when added together, made an aggregate of about four bushels. At 7 p.m. in the evening Rev. Jonas preached in English for the benefit of the congregation’s young people.

Similar services continued to be held through 1920, with an Old People’s Service in the morning, the Sunday school rally in the afternoon, and a young people’s service at night.

The Harvest Home and Rally Day services in 1917 were especially notable. The article in the “Lititz Record” was headlined “Banner Rally Day at E. U. Sunday School.” In the morning, during the Old People’s Service, Rev. Joseph Harper delivered what was described as an eloquent sermon in German on the theme “The Good Old Way.” A male sextette sang a German selection which was enjoyed by all. Among the congregation in the morning were ninety persons over fifty years of age, each were presented with a carnation. The two oldest persons present were Mr. David Buch and Mrs. Catherine Smith, each given a bouquet of flowers.

For the Sunday-school rally in the afternoon 463 persons were present, a record-breaking number for Trinity’s Sunday school. Superintendent Walter H. Buch, was in charge and extended greetings to the visitors. After which seven girls presented an exercise entitled “Welcome.” They were followed by a men's chorus of twenty voices who sang several selections, after which Miss Ruth Eshleman sang an inspiring solo entitled “How Betsy Made the Flag.” Rev. Harper then gave an address and presented diplomas to ten children who had reached the age of three years and were promoted from the Cradle Roll to the Primary Department. Reportedly much interest centered on the roll call, which showed that one-half of the classes had every member present, and almost the entire membership of the Sunday school was in attendance.

The Harvest Home sermon by Rev. Harper in the evening was delivered to a congregation that completely filled the church. The sermon was based upon the theme “Lessons from the Harvest Field.” Other features of the evening service included a duet by Mr. Hiram C. Reedy and Miss Jennie Workman, and special music by a chorus of forty voices.

The decorations were in keeping with the Harvest Home theme, and consisted of beautifully arranged corn stalks, fruit, vegetables and flowers, with a sheaf of wheat as the centerpiece.

For 1918, due to World War I, the day was renamed “Mobilization Day.” The usual services were held, however the climax of the afternoon Sunday school rally was the roll call of the boys on the honor roll who were serving in the military. The roll call was followed by the singing of “Keep the School Fires Burning.”

Possibly as early as 1921 Harvest Home and Rally Day were observed on separate Sundays. However, while the records for 1921 through 1924 are incomplete, it is definitely known that by 1925 they were observed on separate Sundays. Harvest Home was observed at both services on Sunday, Sep. 6, 1925, and Rally Day became Boys’ Rally Day and Girls’ Rally Day, held on Sundays, Sep. 20 and 27 respectively. On the designated day the boys or girls were totally in charge of all the services. The observance of the separate Harvest Home, Boys’ Rally Day and Girls’ Rally Day, later simply known as Boy’s Day and Girls’ Day, appears to have continued through the mid-1950's.

Another banner day for Trinity was Rally Day 1932 when 590 people attended the Rally Day service on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 16. “An overflow meeting was necessary to accommodate everyone.” The main meeting was held in the sanctuary and was in charge of William Fasnacht, the superintendent of the Sunday School. The overflow meeting (no location was given) was in charge of Hiram Reedy and Loretta Mellinger. Following the service a concert by a large orchestra was rendered, which included several vocal selections by Victor Wagner.

The last mention in the “Lititz Record Express” of Harvest Home Day, in regard to Trinity, appeared in the Sep. 18, 1952, issue of the newspaper. And the last mention of Rally Day appeared in the Aug

Homer A. Rodeheaver & Trinity

This is the tenth historical article in a series of twelve articles written to celebrate 150 years of Lititz Trinity and its service to God.

One might ask, who was Homer Rodeheaver? And what has he to do with Trinity Evangelical Congregational Church, Lititz?

First a short biography. Homer A. Rodeheaver was born Oct. 4, 1880, in Cinco Hollow, Hocking Co., Ohio, he later moved with his family to Jellico, Tenn., where he worked with his father in a lumber mill. Having developed an early interest in music he attended Ohio Wesleyan College where he studied law and first learned to play the cornet, later switching to the trombone. In 1898, during the Spanish-American War, he left college and served in the Fourth Tennessee Band where he played the trombone he later became famous for.

Around 1906 Rodeheaver became associated with the Presbyterian evangelist Dr. William E. Biederwolf [1867-1939], becoming his music director. Then in 1910 and continuing through 1930 he served as music director for the evangelist Rev. William Ashley Sunday [1862-1935], better known as “Billy” Sunday. Sunday, a former outfielder in baseball’s National League, is still today “widely considered the most influential American evangelist of the first two decades of the 20th century.” During Rodeheaver’s time working with Sunday he enjoyed and promoted lively new gospel songs and was said to be a natural showman. Reportedly he would “warm his audience with jokes and direct choirs and congregations with his trombone.” Will Rogers said of Rodeheaver (whose nickname was “Rody”), “Rody is the fellow that can make you sing whether you want to or not. I think he has more terrible voices in what was supposed to be unison than any man in the world. Everyone sings for Rody!”

In 1913 Rodeheaver began recording for the Victor Talking Machine Co., and later also recorded for Gennett, Columbia, and his own Rainbow Record label. He reportedly appeared on at least eighteen record labels and five hundred sides during his career. His most recorded pieces was Billy Sunday’s theme song”Brighten The Corner Where You Are.” Other of his most recorded titles included “The Old Rugged Cross,”“In The Garden,” “He Walks With Me,” and “Jesus, Blessed Jesus.”

Three years earlier, in 1910, Rodeheaver started his own publishing business, compiling gospel songs to sell at revivals. In 1936 he purchased the Hall-Mack Co., and merged it with his own company, to become the Rodeheaver Hall-Mack Co., headquartered in Winona Lake, Ind. The company continued in business until 1969 when it was acquired by Word Music.

In addition to the music business Rodeheaver founded Rainbow Ranch, later renamed Rodeheaver’s Boy’s Ranch, a home for abused and abandoned boys in Palatka, Fla. He also established the Winona Lake School of Sacred Music.

Rodeheaver never married, though he did propose to the Canadian-American evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson, who turned him down. He lived with his sister Ruth (Rodeheaver) Thomas and her husband, Ruth served as his hostess. He died of heart failure Dec. 18 1955, at Winona Lake, Ind.

Now what does all this have to do with Lititz Trinity? On May 10, 1936, our new beautiful Gothic-style church had been dedicated, with that new building came a huge debt which would not be satisfied for another twelve years until 1948. All sorts of fund raising activities were conducted by various church organizations and Sunday school classes, including concerts, rummage sales, ham dinners, etc. In the Sep. 24, 1936 issue of the “Lititz Record-Express” it was announced that Trinity’s Young People's Missionary Society had been “definitely assured that Homer A. Rodeheaver [would] give an entertainment for the benefit of the Building Fund one Thursday evening in October.”

In mid-October it was announced that the noted evangelist would be appearing in Trinity on Monday evening, Nov. 9. Reportedly the committee in charge, which consisted of Arlene Beck, Margaret Pfautz, Ruth Getz, Grace Lehn, Elizabeth and Dorothy Hornberger, Hazel Mathers, and Mary Zell, were making preparations to handle a large crowd of people.”

In late October it was reported that numerous patrons for the concert had been secured and that the Acapella Male Chorus, who were presenting a concert in the church on Nov. 15, would be the guests of the Rodeheaver on Nov. 9. It was reported in advance that the evening of music in the church “is not a concert, nor is it a recital. It is simply Rodeheaver, singing famous old gospel songs, playing his trombone, leading congregational singing or speaking.”

The evening of music in Trinity began at 7:45 p.m. on Nov. 9, with 827 people in attendance who “jammed Trinity E. C. Church to the last inch.” The evening was filled with “gospel songs, reminiscences, trombone solos, humorous stories and a bit of advertising” all mingled in to everyone’s great delight. Reportedly “underlying the evening's entertainment... was the idea that a Christian's life should be a joyous one and joyous he made the evening. People who attended... [talked] of so many different things which he said or did that it hardly seems possible to have heard and seen them all in one evening.”

Rodeheaver was accompanied by his accompanist Ben D. Ackley, his sister Ruth Thomas, who reportedly “sang sweetly,” Miss Gertrude Ackley, Miss Esther Rawley, and Mr. Lee, a representative of the Palmolive Radio program from New York City, on whose program Rodeheaver could be heard.

During the evening Rodeheaver called on the “Lititz Ladies Trio,” which grew into a quartet by the time he persuaded them to join him on the platform. The girls, ten year old Lois J. Adams, eight year old K. Fay Lehn [Ream], ten year old Thelma Jean Kauffman [Stark] and ten year old Gladys J. Fry [Crowl], were coached for several minutes and then sang for the audience. Afterward Rodeheaver presented each of the girls with an autographed copy of his latest book of hymns.

Later in the evening Rodeheaver induced the Acapella Male Chorus to sing along as he took up his trombone and played “The Holy City.”

During the evening the following numbers were presented: “All The Way to Calvary,” and “I’ll Walk With the King,” both composed by Mr. Ackley, and “Good Night Here, Good-Morning Up There,” Rodeheaver’s own composition. He sang “In The Garden,” “Brighten The Corner” (singing the chorus in Hawaiian, Japanese, and Amoy Chinese),”My Wonderful Dream,” “The Hem of His Garment,” and several Negro spirituals. In addition, Ruth Hackman sang “This Way,” and Rodeheaver’s sister, Ruth Thomas, sang “Today.” Rodeheaver concluded the evening with a reading by Paul Laurence Dunbar titled “When Malindy Sings.”

The evening was certainly a night to remember by all those present, very possibly the most memorable night in the history of the church.

Twelve years later Rodeheaver returned to Trinity on Sunday, Dec. 12, 1948, at 2:30 in the afternoon. The program of sacred music that day was sponsored by the Lancaster County Christian Endeavor Union. Little is known of the concert held that day, however it is known he had his famous trombone with him. Of the horn Rodeheaver said “One good blast is worth a dozen soft toots.” He always admitted that he owed about 30% of the credit for his success to his faithful old trombone.

Trinity’s World War I Veterans

In honor of Veterans’ Day this eleventh historical article, one of a series of twelve celebrating Trinity’s 150 years of existence, will focus on Trinity’s World War I veterans. Most of you recall the three wooden Veteran Honor Rolls or Service Plaques which, in more recent years and up until 2020, hung in the narthex at the church’s Orange St. entrance. Two of the three plaques, those containing the names of the WWI and WWII veterans, were painted in 1948 by Lititz sign painter John S. Witmyer at a cost of $43.80. By May 1948, just in time for Memorial Day, the plaques had been hung in the church. The third plaque, which honored Trinity’s veterans who served in both the Korean Conflict and the Vietnam War, was added in Aug. 1987. It should be noted that following the first floor renovations in 2021 all three plaques were rehung and are now displayed for all to see in the church’s Heritage Room, formerly Pastor Nathan’s study, on the first floor of the church behind the library. If you haven’t visited the room please stop by to see the historical display as well as the plaques.

As I began researching the church history and organizing the church archives, I began to discover that some of the names contained on the World War I plaque were incorrect. I found that some of the names of those who had served in WWI were missing, including the name of Trinity’s only member to died in the service of his country during the war. It was also discovered that some of the names that were on the plaque were not affiliated with the church during the war, some never were members, and there was even one individual whose only tie to the church was that he played on Trinity’s baseball team in 1916. In all fairness to those that compiled the list of names for the WWI plaque in 1948, it was probably based on several people’s memories thirty years after the fact.

Further research was necessary. Through news articles in the “Lititz Record” and a program found in the church archives commemorating the war’s end, which included a list of those that served, I was able to ascertain the actual names of the twenty men who were represented by the stars on the WWI Service Flag. The Historical Committee, consisting of Aaron Fry, Jerry McDonald, and myself, decided to have the WWI plaque repainted with the corrected list of names based this time on proper research. Using “Ancestry” each man’s military service record was searched and authenticated, assuring us that the names included were correct.

On Sep. 20, 1917 the first of the drafted men from Lititz left for Camp Meade, Md., and military service. Seventy-three days later during the morning worship service, Sunday, Dec. 2, 1917, Trinity unveiled it’s WWI Service Flag. The flag had a white field and contained seventeen black stars, each representing a member of the Sunday school or church who had entered military service. As other members left for the service additional stars were added. By Sep. 29, 1918, eight more stars were added to the flag, and by war’s end Trinity’s flag contained twenty stars.

It should be noted that a similar Service Flag was placed in the church during World War II, that flag, at war’s end, contained seventy-three stars. The names on the WWII plaque have been compared against their service record and the names on that plaque have been found to be correct as presented.

Trinity’s WWI Veterans arranged by date they entered Military Service

1. William Earl Mumma [1898-1939], U. S. Army; enlisted Apr. 18, 1917, age

    20, single, discharged Sep. 24, 1919; served overseas Jul. 30, 1917 to

    Sep. 15, 1919, engagements: Meuse-Argonne, Aisne-Marne.

2. Ralph A. Diehm [1892-1954], U. S. Army; enlisted Jun. 2, 1917, age 25, 

    single, discharged May 21, 1919; served overseas May 18, 1918 to May

    9, 1919, engagements: Meuse-Argonne.

3. Raymond Buch Dillman [1899-1969], U. S. Army; enlisted Jun. 4, 1917, 

    age 18, single, discharged May 21, 1919; served overseas May 1918 to

    May 1919, engagements: 5th German Offensive, Battle of Ourcq River, 

    and Meuse-Argonne.

4. Prof. J. Paul Bensinger [1893-1951], Lititz school teacher, U.S. Army; 

    enlisted Aug. 2, 1917, age 24, single, discharged Oct. 31, 1919 as 2nd Lt.; 

    served stateside: Rock Island Arsenal, Camp Meade, Md., Camp Hancock, 

    Ga., Camp Gordon, Ga., Camp Humphreys, Va., Camp Knox, Ky., 

    Washington, D.C., and Bridgeport, Ct.

5. Victor R. Hacker [1886-1919], U. S. Army; enlisted Aug. 3, 1917, age 31, 

    married, died Apr. 10, 1919 of pneumonia, he was the only son of Trinity

    to die in the service of his country during World War I. Served stateside: 

    Fort Hayes, Columbus, Oh., Fort Harrison, Ind., Fort Greenleaf, Ga., 

    Debarkation Hospital, NY.

6. William K. Nelson [1895-1951], U. S. Army; inducted Sep. 20, 1917, age

    22, married, discharged Jun. 25, 1919 as a 2nd Lt.; served overseas Jul. 

    22, 1918 to Jun. 25, 1919, engagements not given.

7. Emerson R. Groff [1896-1966], U. S. Army; enlisted Oct. 1, 1917, age 21, 

    single, discharged Jun. 19, 1919; served overseas Aug. 2, 1918 to Jun. 11, 

    1919, engagements not given.

8. Thomas W. Fraelich [1894-1949], U. S. Army; enlisted Oct. 12, 1917, age

    23, single, discharged Jun. 7, 1919; served overseas Jul. 9, 1918 to May

    29, 1919, engagements: Meusse-Argonne.

9. William G. Keller [1894-1962], U. S. Army; inducted Oct. 12, 1917, age

    23, married, discharged Nov. 23, 1918; served stateside: Fort McClellan, 


10. William R. Gable [1888-1970], U. S. Army; enlisted Nov. 3, 1917, age 29, 

       single, discharged Dec. 5, 1918; served stateside: Camp Meade, Md.

11. Floyd A. Rader [1895-1983], U. S. Army; inducted Nov. 3, 1917, age 21, 

      single, discharged Jun. 12, 1919; served overseas Jul. 8, 1918 to Jun. 1, 

      1919, engagements: Meuse-Argonne.

12. Robert McClellen Clendening [1891-1968], U. S. Army; inducted Apr. 

      30, 1918, age 26, single, discharged May 3, 1919; served overseas May. 

      25, 1918 to Apr. 25, 1919, engagements: Meuse-Argonne.

13. Ralph H. Habecker [1895-1963], U. S. Army; inducted Apr. 30, 1918, 

      age 22, single, discharged Jun. 9, 1919; served overseas Jun. 5, 1918 to

      Jun. 1, 1919, engagements: Meuse-Argonne.

14. Melvin G. Huber [1895-1980], U. S. Army; inducted Apr. 30, 1918, age

      23, single, discharged Jun. 6, 1919; served overseas May 26, 1918 to

      May 28, 1919, engagements: Battle of Saint-Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne.

15. Roy Buch Wissler [1898-1952], U. S. Navy; enlisted May 11, 1918, age

      20, single, discharged Jun. 7, 1919; served stateside: Wissahickon

      Barracks, Receiving Ship, Philadelphia, Pa.

16. Robert R. Buch [1895-1954], U. S. Army; inducted Jul. 24, 1918, age 22, 

       single, discharged Nov. 23, 1918; served stateside: Camp Lee, Va.

17. Harry Lincoln Gonder [1894-1941], U. S. Army; inducted Aug. 5, 1918, 

       age 23, single, discharged Mar. 18, 1919; served stateside: Ft. Dix, NJ.

18. John H. Gohn [1893-1960], U. S. Army; inducted Sep. 5, 1918, age 24, 

      single, discharged Dec. 19, 1918; served stateside: Fort Benjamin

      Harrison, Ind.

19. Earl S. Mathers [1900-1977], U. S. Army; inducted Oct. 8, 1918, age 18, 

       single, discharged Dec. 17, 1918; served stateside: Student Army

       Training Crops, Albright College, Myerstown, Pa.

20. Paul Rapp [1898-1943], U. S. Army; enlisted Oct. 10, 1918, age 19, 

      single, discharged Dec. 12, 1918; served stateside: Student Army

      Training Camp, Franklin & Marshall College, Lancaster, Pa.; interestingly    

      at the time of his death in 1943 he was employed by the Public Roads

      Administration, Wash., D.C. He was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va., based on his sixty-three days of service.

Trinity and christmas of long ago

As 2022 draws to a close so does Lititz Trinity’s 150th Anniversary. This is the final installment in what was a series of twelve historical articles focusing on our church’s history.

In this article we will take a look at Christmas as it was celebrated in the church’s earlier years. The earliest known account of Christmas in the Jerusalem Church dates back to Christmas Eve 1877, when it was recorded that the Sunday school teachers and scholars had a “merry time.” Pastor James M. Oplinger “opened by delivering an address, followed by others, interspersed with singing.” Each member of the Sunday school was presented with a package of sweetmeats and the exercises closed with the singing of the doxology. Then, on Christmas morning, the pastor delivered a sermon in German on the Birth of Christ.

So often when we think of Christmas in Trinity today, we think of the beautifully decorated sanctuary and the inspiring cantatas presented by our Senior Choir. In the church’s early years the sanctuary was also beautifully and, in numerous instances, uniquely decorated. However, the tradition of the presentation of Christmas cantatas did not begin until 1926 when the first cantata, “Tidings of Great Joy,” by E. L. Ashford, was presented. The Senior Choir that day consisted of thirty voices under the direction of Mrs. Kathryn “Katie” B. (Amer) Mathers, who also served as pianist.

In 1882, during Pastor Benjamin D. Albright’s pastorate, the Jerusalem Evangelical Sunday School began holding its annual children’s Sunday school service/program in the evening of Christmas Day, generally at 6 p.m. This tradition continued for the next fifty-five years (except for 1893) when, on Dec. 25, 1938, the children’s Christmas program was moved to the 9:30 a.m. Sunday school hour. The earliest of these services/programs were geared toward the children with the pastor delivering a sermon and minimal participation by the children, mostly in the form of carol singing and recitations. As the years progressed the children became more actively involved, with the eventual inclusion of the children of all of the Sunday school’s departments participating. In the 1930's the children were joined, in some instances, by the church’s choirs and orchestra. A high point of the evening for the children, from the earliest record of the event in 1877, was the presentation of a “package of sweetmeats,” later candy and an orange.

The children’s celebration of the Birth of Christ through song, recitation, and pantomime, were certainly the main reason the pews were filled in the evening of Christmas Day for so many years. Proud parents, older siblings, grandparents, aunt and uncles, were in attendance to encourage the children. Also essential were the talented and artistic adults of the congregation who played a key role as they provided the festive decorations used in the church. In the earliest years of the congregation’s existence Christmas trees, garlands and wreaths were used. However, beginning in 1883 many unique and in some instances rather complicated, cleaver, and time consuming features were added, primarily for the benefit of the children.

In 1888 the East Pennsylvania Conference of the Evangelical Association “condemned anything of a theatrical character being given in Christmas entertainment” in the churches under its jurisdiction. Then in1894 the conference went on record as a “foe of Santa Claus” and adopted resolutions “denouncing Christmas entertainments in churches.”

The earliest description of the decorated sanctuary dates to 1883 when the front of the pulpit was arranged with a transparency of illuminated letters which read “Behold, Unto You is Born This Day a Savior which is Christ the Lord.” At the foot of the transparency was a mound of stones, which when removed revealed a box of oranges and candies which were distributed to the children. The following year above the pulpit was suspended a festooning of laurel and spruce behind which was “Unto Us is Born a Saviour” in large lettering. Below “was a large mound representing the Shepherds watching their flock,” over which a moving star appeared. Again, as in the previous year, the mound of stones concealed the bags of candy and oranges for the children.

The first mention of a Christmas tree in the sanctuary occurred in 1885. It was also in this year that the children took an active part in the activities. The decorations included a “large Christmas tree containing toys, under which was a large mound and other landscape sceneries” all on a large platform that “reached from side to side of the pulpit.” Around the tree eleven scholars joined hands while they walked around the tree and sang “Carol Round the Christmas Tree.” At the conclusion of the program a “good-sized train of cars bearing boxes of candies and oranges for... the little ones” emerged from a secluded corner of the platform. The next year Sunday school superintendent Walter H. Buch delivered a “short and entertaining address in which he said he and the church... did not approve of telling innocent children that such a person as Santa Claus existed; it was telling them a big story.” Again from the left curtained corner to the left of the pulpit a “train of red-painted cars” delivered bags of sweetmeats and oranges.

Beginning in 1889 and continuing through 1927, in addition to the Christmas trees, garlands, and wreathes that decorated the sanctuary, were the large paintings on canvas produced by the church’s artists, Thomas and William Kissinger and John K. Mathers, which graced the sanctuary’s pulpit recess.

Then there were the unique and inventive ways in which the children of the Sunday school had their presents of candy and oranges delivered to them. These Christmas treats came by train, stagecoach, boat, balloon, and even by a small white covered wagon drawn by two boys each wearing a string of sleigh bells. On the wagon sat little Harry Gingrich [1885-1965] as the driver, tooting his horn as the “team was drawn up the aisle to the head of the church.”

In 1894, as part of the Sunday school’s Christmas Day program, a special feature was a “telephone message recited by one of the scholars, in which he told Santa Claus what he wanted him to bring to a little girl.” It is believed this “special feature” may well have been the first introduction of Santa Claus in a religious service in the church. Interestingly this occurred two months after the United Evangelical Church split from the Evangelical Association who had forbade the use of Santa Claus in the church.

The giving of oranges and candy to the children of the Sunday school at Christmas time continued until 1917 when the Sunday school officials decided to donate the money normally expended on the gifts to the Armenian and Syrian relief fund during World War I. Beginning in 1918 and continuing through the late 1940's, only boxes of candy were handed out at Christmas, with the exception of two years when oranges were again included. According to the Sunday school records it appears that in the later years the candy was only distributed to those children in the primary department. It was also noted that for several years rattles were purchased as Christmas gifts for infants enrolled in the Sunday school’s cradle roll department.

In 1935 the present church was under construction. It was thought the building would be completed by Dec. 1, however that turned out not to be the case. That year Christmas was celebrated on Sunday, Dec. 22, with Sunday school at 9:30 a.m., a worship service at 10:30 a.m., and the Christmas pageant, entitled “White Christmas,” at 7 p.m., all held in the high school auditorium across Orange St.

In 1936 and 1937 the Sunday school’s Christmas program returned to being held on Christmas night. However, in 1938 the tradition of holding the program in the evening of Christmas Day came to an end, when it, for the first time, was presented on Sunday, Dec. 25, during the 9:30 a.m. Sunday school hour. It should also be noted that it was in 1938 when the first known Christmas Eve candlelight service was held in the church . Prior to 1938, and as early as 1932, candlelight services were held in conjunction with the church’s New Year’s Eve service.

I can’t help but wonder what the attendance would be like if Pastors Fry and Taylor announced in 2022 that the church was holding a worship service on Christmas night, Dec. 25, as our forebearers had done?

Merry Christmas to all as we prepare once again to celebrate the Birth of Christ in Trinity.