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Otterbein UMC history

To understand the history of our church it is helpful to put ourselves in the perspective of those that settled in the area in the 1700s, as described below in a paper that was provided by Mrs. Patricia (“Pat”) W. Strickler:

1872 map showing Red School House (Paradise Church) and UB Church (Springville Church)
Source: 1872 Atlas of Cumberland County

The news of great opportunities and privileges offered by the New World reached the oppressed inhabitants of Germany, and they came by the thousands to our shores....

Many of the immigrants brought with them their catechisms, hymn books, Bibles, and other devotional materials. They formed congregations and schools; if no minister was available, they would encourage each other by singing and listening to sermons and prayers read by their pious schoolmasters. A schoolmaster was considered closely akin to the minister during this time. Many log or stone buildings were erected to serve the dual purpose of schoolhouse and church.

This is evident in looking at the earliest meeting places that later became the church that we know today as Otterbein United Methodist Church. However, prior to speaking of the “Red School House” and the “Wise School House” it would be helpful to know about the man Philip W. Otterbein — a young minister from Germany.

Sailing to New York in 1752, Philip Otterbein came to America as a missionary to the German Reformed immigrants in Pennsylvania. After being assigned to the Reformed Church in Lancaster he later served as pastor of the German Reformed Church in Frederick, Maryland; York, Pennsylvania; and in Baltimore, Maryland.

In 1765 while attending “a Big Meeting” (revival) held in the Isaac Long barn near Lancaster he was inspired by a Mennonite reverend — Martin Boehm. This marked the beginning of a lasting friendship.

In 1789 Philip Otterbein and Martin Boehm, along with several others, held a conference that resulted in the founding of what would be called the United Brethren in Christ Church. In 1800 Philip Otterbein and Martin Boehm were elected as the first bishops of this new “American born” denomination.

The home of John Shopp, Sr., located close to Shiremanstown, was an early “preaching place” which served as a central location to a system that consisted of traveling the circuit for pastoral visitation, evangelical, and ministerial work.

The homes of Reverend Abraham Mayer, four miles west of Carlisle, and that of Reverend Abraham Hershe, a few miles east of Carlisle, also served as preaching places in the valley.

Wise School House                                        Springville Church
Source: History of South Middleton Township

At the 1843 Pennsylvania Conference, held in Franklin County, Reverend J. S. Kessler was assigned to the new Hershe Station which was set apart from the Carlisle Circuit. Through the efforts of Reverend Kessler, Boiling Springs became part of the “Hershe Circuit.” Two meeting places near Boiling Springs, which were served by itinerant preachers as they passed on their way to Shopp’s Church in Shiremanstown, were to become part of this Hershe Circuit — marking the beginning of the Otterbein Church of today. In 1843, at the home of John Jacob Wise, followers organized a “class” (church) and after outgrowing the home they started meeting at the Wise School House two miles northwest of Boiling Springs. This served as a place of worship until 1855 when, during the pastorate of Reverend G. W. Showman, services were moved to Springville where a church was built. The Springville Cemetery occupies the site where the Springville Church once stood.

Paradise Appointment (Red School House)
Source: History of South Middleton Township.

The second group had its start on the farm of Christian Herr who came to Cumberland County in 1834. He set aside a portion of ground on his farm and built a church and school house. In 1870 the log cabin building was replaced with a red brick building and was known as the Paradise Appointment, commonly referred to as the Red School House, and was located on the southwest corner of Creek Road and Petersburg Road. Church services were held in the basement and the upper floor served as a school. This church was known for its singing. In 1886 when Reverend A. R. Ayres came as pastor to the church he found the members sitting according to the parts they sang rather than as families. In 1897, during the pastorate of Reverend S. N. Moyer, the congregations at Paradise and Springville united and with neither building being large enough for their combined congregations, a new church was built in Boiling Springs. Two stained glass windows at this new church recognized the Paradise and Springville Young People’s Christian Unions who purchased the property at a cost of $440. The new church in Boiling Springs was built at a cost of $8,600 (including the property).

On November 16, 1946, the United Brethren in Christ Church and the Evangelical Church merged to form the Evangelical United Brethren Church.

United Brethren Church in Boiling Springs, c1912.
Source: Otterbein UM Church 1993 Directory.

On April 23, 1968, the Evangelical United Brethren Church and the Methodist Church adopted a plan of union. Wanting to keep our heritage in our name we became the Otterbein United Methodist Church. Many improvements had been made to the church in Boiling Springs. In 1918 electric lights were installed and the north wall repaired. In 1938 the basement, heating plant, and kitchen were completed. Extensive renovations were started in 1949 which included complete re-plastering, refinishing of pews, new carpet, redesigned chancel area, a new Baldwin electric organ, installation of a sound system, and the remodeling of the church parsonage. In 1961 ground was broken and the cornerstone laid for the new educational wing. Major renovations to the sanctuary were completed during 1977-78: the stained glass windows were re-leaded and protected from the weather, new carpet was laid, and oak pews were installed. Much of the information that was provided for this “History of Otterbein United Methodist Church” was provided by the previously mentioned paper supplied by Mrs. Pat Strickler in 1993, which marked the 150th anniversary of our congregation: Writing this paper was like opening my hope chest ... The lovely tatted dollie was made for me as a young girl by Jessie Hoener. Jessie and her sister, Lena Mae, served as missionaries in Sierra Leone from this church. A sampler made in Springville by my great, great grandmother in 1856, the pretty dish given to my great grandmother by her Sunday School class, the baton my grandfather used to direct the church orchestra and choir for 40 years, the picture of my father with his trumpet — he played many solo’s in this church, the wonderful memories of the beautiful music provided by my mother, who served so faithfully as church organist for over twenty-five years, the pleasure of being married in this church, the privilege of having my sons baptized and confirmed at this alter, and the joy of seeing my mother’s five grandchildren sing in her honor when she was buried from this church. A constant reminder of my heritage is the beautiful stained glass window ... honoring Jacob and Sophia Wise, my great, great grandparents.

In 1997 we celebrated 154 years as a congregation, and the building that was our place of worship had reached an age of 100 years. This also represented a time when, once again, the size of our congregation outgrew that of the building. On June 15, 1997, ground was broken for a beautiful new worship facility along Forge Road. 

Groundbreaking at 647 Forge Road, June 15, 1997

Our new church was dedicated to the honor and glory of God on June 28, 1998

New multi-purpose room and more classrooms dedicated on September 7, 2003

J. Kessler and A. Hershe
G. Miller 
Z. A. Colestock
G.W. Showman
J. Dickson
Z. A. Colestock
T. S. McNeil
G. W. Showman
I. C. Weidler
Isaac Coomes
J. W. Burd and D. Eberly
J. W. Burd and H. A. Schlichter
J. W. Burd and H. Young
J. G. Schaff
Jacob Erb
J. S Wentz
S. Bigham
A. Tripner
N. Altman
H. Brown
W. H. Wagner
I. C. Weidler
J. S. Wentz
H. A. Schlichter
P. A. Bowman
A. R. Ayres
J. W Grimm
J. O. Clippinger
S. N. Moyer
J. W. Kiracofe
Rudolph Byrd
D. M. Oyer
J. F. Snyder
J. A. Gohn
A. C. Crone
E. C. B. Castle
C. C. Miller
J. B. Reed, Jr.
R. R. Zeigler
J. H. Lehman
R. D. Leonard
O. H. Walter
David L. Reed
Neil L. Irons 
Daniel Dennis
Bruce Fensterbush
Steve Salisbury
1843 - 1845
1845 - 1847
1847 - 1848
1848 - 1849
1849 - 1850
1850 - 1852
1852 - 1853
1853 - 1856
1856 - 1857
1857 - 1858
1858 - 1859
1859 - 1860
1860 - 1861
1861 - 1862
1862 - 1863
1863 - 1864
1864 - 1866
1866 - 1868
1868 - 1870
1870 - 1872
1872 - 1875
1875 - 1879
1879 - 1880
1880 - 1884
1884 - 1886
1886 - 1890
1890 - 1892
1892 - 1895
1895 - 1900
1900 - 1904
1904 - 1909
1909 - 1914
1914 - 1925
1925 - 1926
1926 - 1928
1928 - 1933
1933 - 1937
1937 - 1945
1945 - 1952
1952 - 1961
1961 - 1969
1969 - 1982
1982 - 2006
2006 - 2007
2007 - 2018
2018 - 2020
2020 - Present