HISTORY OF THE REYBURN CHURCH
It may be a surprise to many to learn that for a time in Colonial days this part of N.E. Pennsylvania was a part of Connecticut. Many migrated here from New England and for that reason, especially in the Muhlenburg area of the early settlers had Anglo: names such as Marvin, Roberts, Austin, etc. In the years before the revolution many immigrants came to Pennsylvania from Germany and began to spread out from the Philadelphia area where they had disembarked and eventually some came to settle in this area, buying the land from the original Connecticut owners. Although they were sometimes looked down on in the Philadelphia area because they spoke a different language, many took part in the fight for freedom. Christian Sorber, an ancestor of the Sorber family in this neighborhood, was a guard at Independence Hall when the Declaration of Independence was being drawn up.
In the early part of the 19 century many in the Methodist Episcopal Church became dissatisfied, desiring more voice in the affairs of the local church and the right to choose their own pastors. As a result the leaders of this movement met in Baltimore in 1828 and formed the Associated Methodist Church, later changed to Methodist Protestant Church. These people felt their democratic form of church government was more biblical; it also reflects the independent spirit of America. The title bishop was dropped and from then on the head of the district or conferencewas called a president. By the 1930s this branch of Methodism had grown to around 200,000 members.
There is a little uncertainty about when the first M.P. Church was formed at Reyburn, one report puts it at 1835, but according tot he oldest register that can be found, the class was organized in 1850. The members met in a little school house which stood near the site of Myrtle Killians present home. There, in that small school building with its crude slab benches and slab seats, the class was formed, with a membership of about thirty. Many of the early members came from a Luthern or German Reformed background. The class was made part of the Shickshinny Circuit at that time.
In the year 1868 a plot of land was purchased by the school board from Jacob Baer, across the street from the present church and a new school house was built thereon and was used for both school and church purposes. It was then named Maple Grove by the young people. (This building was sold and torn down in 1959, after 91 years of service.)
In the year 1882 a young man by the name of Rev. George Shaffer was sent here to be a pastor. During the time he was here a four week revival meeting was held, and 66 persons came to know the Lord and nearly all of them joined the church at that time.
Some time later the government gave us a Post Office and the name Maple Grove was submitted. The Postmaster General sent a letter to Rev. R.B. Belles stating there was already one placed named Maple Grove in the county and he suggested the name of Reyburn in commemoration of Dr. Reyburn, who cared for President James A. Garfield when he was shot by James Guiteau. The name was accepted by the people and our church was called the Reyburn M.P. Church.
In the summer of 1883 the construction of the present church was begun with Sylvester Sorber, S.A. Belles, and J.D. Hartman as acting trustees. The building committee was John Baer, Sylvester Sorber, and John D. Hartman, who hired David Hildebrand and Charles Shaffer of Shickshinny as carpenters. Members who had timbered donated trees for lumber which was sawed, free of charge, by Sylvester Sorber who owned a sawmill. The land was donated by the Masters Family.
In a little over a year the building was completed at a cost of $1,650 and on October 5, 1884 the church was dedicated. The first pastor to serve the new church was R. B. Belles; George Pope was conference president.
In 1939 the Reyburn Church was one of the churches that voted not to take part in the Methodist merger and a short time later the name was changed to Reyburn Bible Protestant Church. Following is a list of improvements made and the dates:
1921- Social Hall was built.
1926-27 A piano to replace the old reed organ- Pipeless hot air furnace to replace the 2 pot-bellied stoves- new pews- Memorial windows
1951-Belfry and vestibule
1952- Parking lot leveled and concrete access steps built.
1955- Retaining wall of conglomerate rock.
1961-April- Ground breaking for Sunday School rooms.
1962, October 7- Dedication of Sunday School Rooms.
1966- The present oil heating system installed.
1968, October 13- Mortgage burning, Sunday School room dept paid off
1971- A sanitary system installed
1973- Black-topping of parking lot
1974- Wall-to-wall carpeting
1977, December 11- Dedication of new Hammond organ
1982- a bequest enabling the purchase of a parsonage.
1994- Hall collapsed from snow.
1996- new hall built
Pastors who have served the church since it was organized:
R. B. Belles- twice
William N. Williams
Stephen K. Young
Harry Stiles- twice
Geo. D. Jones
S. Parker Gamwell
Samuel McClain- twice
Present Pastor is Rev, C. Glenn Neely.
Donated by Alquin Swank