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BAPTIST CHURCH

     The present Baptist Church at Ebensburg is an outgrowth of the First Baptist Sunday School in Pennsylvania, which school was established in Beula by Morgan John Rhees in 1797.

 

 

    

      There's a difference of opinion as to the date of the organization of the Beula Baptist church. A Welsh historical magazine called "The Star of Gomer," says: "In 1797, a Baptist church was founded in Beula -." Benedict says: "At Beula in the midst of the Allegheny Mountains, a church was founded by emigrants from Wales under the direction of Morgan J. Rhees."

     The first pastor was Morgan J. Rhees. He served the church for four years. The second pastor, Richard Michaels, of Anglesea, Wales, lived only seven days after his arrival at Beula. The third pastor, Joseph Poyell, was an old man and did not serve the church long. Timothy Davis, a relative of the late Miles and Benjamin Davis, served the church until 1813.

     In 1813, William Williams was elected pastor. Up to this time the preaching was in the Welsh language. In 1815, Thomas Williams, an Englishman, was elected co-pastor; one minister preached in Welsh and the other in English. In 1829, William Williams resigned and in 1834, Thomas Williams resigned.

     Thomas Williams was succeeded by Benjamin Davies. During the pastorate of Mr. Davies, the Baptists built a meeting house in Ebensburg, but they still retained the name of Beula Baptist church. Also during the pastorate of Mr. Davies, a division occurred in the church; the controversy was due to the doctrines of Alexander Campbell. In 1836 a separation took place.

     The two factions (for sometime after this) worshiped in the same church, occupying it at different hours on the same day. The Baptist group proposed to sell their interest in the church property for whatever was offered. The Campbellites offered $128.00 and it was accepted. The Baptists then built a small meeting house on one of the back streets of Ebensburg (on Lloyd street where the Maloney property now stands.) Subsequently, they erected a more commodious place of worship in a more central location. David Williams, son of Thomas Williams, former pastor of Beula, then served as minister of this church for some time.

     Shortly after this another separation took place in the church. This was due to the fact that the Welsh language was used in the service and all documents were written in Welsh; this was unsatisfactory to the English speaking portion of the membership. The young people especially were losing interest and uniting with churches of other denominations.

     Two separate organizations were formed - the Welsh and the English churches. The Welsh church retained the name of Beula, and the English adopted the name of the Ebensburg Baptist Church. The Welsh church retained the meeting house, but assisted the English church in erecting a place of worship. Pleasant fellowship existed at all times between these two groups.

     At this time the Ebensburg Baptist Church was weakened by some of the brethren who became engrossed with an organization, now extinct, based on the platform "no fellowship with slave owners." Had it not been for the vitality of the meeting house called the North Church (now known as Bethesda), the probability is that the Ebensburg church would have become extinct.

     In these early days of the church, the compensation awarded the ministers was small; the work of these pioneers was mainly a work of love, and like Paul they depended upon the labor of their hands for their support. But the people were in earnest and attempted what would seem impossible tasks today, in order that this generation might enjoy the privileges which are ours.

     Unfortunately, we must omit much of the history of our church in Ebensburg. The minute book and the church records have been lost. Rev. David Jenkins, once pastor of the Ebensburg church, borrowed the minute book and took it with him to the State of New York. He later moved to Ohio where he died and all traces of the book and records have been lost.

Following is a list of pastors of the Baptist Church:

About 1845 R. Roberts was pastor followed by E. Thomas; 1851, D. Jenkins; 1861, J.W. Evans; followed by David Evans who left in 1866 and after 1872 served a second pastorate for five years; 1866, S. Thomas followed by B. James; for a time B.W. Thomas preached in English and D.R. Jones in Welsh; 1882, A. Shadrach; April 1888-1890, T. M. Evans; Sept. 21, 1890-92, D.C. Thomas; B.H. Fish, Sept. 4, 1892 to June 21, 1894; T.L. Josephs, Supply 1894; pastor, June 27, 1899 to Dec 1, 1900; C.E. Parker, June 12, 1895 to June 16, 1896 to Mar. 1899, Aug. 7, 1905 to 1906; W.L. Jones, Apr. 1, 1901 to Jan. 1, 1904; C.W. Teasdale, Mar. 1904 to May 6, 1905.

     From that time on the following: Rev. F.I. Sigmund, Rev. Walter Whitley, Rev. Stuart M. Smith, Rev. A.Z. Myers, Rev. Charles Leinbach, Rev. F.N. Parsons, Rev. Walter Harry Hughes, Dr. William Thomas (interim pastor), Rev. George Thorton, Rev. John F. Brownlee, Rev. Elmer Evans (interim pastor), Rev. Orey M. Bolt, Rev. William Shope, Dr. Arthur Hall Gordon (interim pastor), and Rev. E. Lowell Martin.

     The list of pastors is necessarily imperfect. For those interested further reference may be found in the Center Baptist Association Historical Sketch, 1830-1905.

In July 1897, the centennial of the church was celebrated.

In 1902 a parsonage was erected through the efforts of Rev. W.L. Jones.

     The present church building was erected in 1905, at which time C.W. Teasdale was pastor. The dedication took place in October of that year. In 1930, a fire occurred, causing much damage to the interior of the church. Following the fire a number of improvements were made and at present the Baptist membership has a splendid house of worship.

     The present officers of the Church are as follows: Dayton Jervis (deacon Emeritus), active deacons: John L. Thomas, Joseph J. Davis, William Sides, Sr., Paul Stephens, John Wright and Robert Taylor. Trustees: Lester Edwards, president; Theodore Jervis, Sr., Fred Laningham, Sr., Harry Fennell and Glenn Stephens, Treasurer, John Myers; Financial secretary, Thelbert Johns, recording secretary, Isabel Kastick; church clerk, Paul Stephens; organist and choir leader, Cathryn Eyer, Present membership of the Church is 265.

     The present Sunday School officers are as follows: William Sides, Jr., superintendent; Theodore Jervis, Jr., assistant superintendent; secretary, Elizabeth Ann Laningham; assistant secretary, Stevens Burr; treasurer, Beverly Stephens; primary superintendent, Rose Myers; assistant primary superintendent, Esther Lydic; cradle roll superintendent, Florence Edwards, assistant, Olive Gilliland; Home department superintendent, Mrs. George Thomas, assistant, Penelope Lydic, assistant, Patricia Gould. Present membership of the Sunday School is 205.

The present pastor, Rev. E. Lowell Martin.

As reported in the Mountaineer Herald, Monday, Aug 16, 1954