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Township, Lancaster County, Pa

"Churches of Today and Yesterday in Southern Lancaster County" by Fellowship of Solanco Churches, Raymond Dunlap, George Herbert, & Richard Yates , Sr. printed 1968


The founder of the Christiana Presbyterian Church was the Rev. James Latta. Having served as pastor of the Upper Octorara Church for forty years, he was then invited to continue his work among the Presbyterians in Penningtonville (later called Atglen). In 1857, Mr. Latta began holding services in Christiana as well. Encouraged by the work, he requested the Presbytery of Donegal (then called Westminister) to build a small church there. Seventeen hundred dollars was quickly raised, surely a token of God's blessing upon the project. By the next year a chapel was finished, free of debt, on Bridge Street. We still have a copy of the names of all who contributed, with the amounts they gave, written in Mr. Latta's own hand. This list was put in the cornerstone of our present church.

As a preacher, Mr. Latta was earnest, animated, and impressive. His sermons were solidly evangelical. He had a true pastor's heart, atten- tive to the young and to the sick. He was persuasive in inviting people to church, a faithful and loving shepherd of his flock. In June, 1861, he retired from the ministry because of old age. Death came less than a year later, at the home of a nephew in Philadelphia where he had been attending a Sunday School convention. He died on May 30, 1862, and was laid to rest at Octorara. Shortly before his death, Mr. Latta gave up his work in Christiana, and for a while services were irregular. When the Rev. J. William Edie was called to the Penningtonville Church, he carried on the work at the Christiana Chapel-without great success. In April of 1868, Pres-bytery appointed a committee to "visit Christiana to see what could be done towards supplying them with the means of grace, with a view of finally organizing a church there." The committee favored Mr. Edie's holding services in the chapel every other Sunday afternoon. But attendance continued to be poor, and during the next winter few services were held.

In 1869 the Rev. W. E. S. Noble was installed at Penningtonville and preached one year. After than only occasional services were held for about two years. The work in Christiana seemed discouraging, and in April, 1872, the Penningtonville Church decided to sell the chapel. Both the Christiana Presbyterians and Westminister Presbytery pro-tested that a house of worship should not be perverted from its original intended use. Aroused by the fear of losing their chapel, our church fathers became determined to be an independent church. The Westminister Presbytery asked the Penningtonville Church to allow the Christiana Chapel to apply for a charter and transfer the property holding to the Christiana congregation. The Penningtonville Church refused the request. Westminister Presbytery urged the Penningtonville Church that it had no legal right to try to keep the church, and five years later, on April 11, 1877, the title was at last reported transferred.

Meanwhile the church had been thriving. The Rev. William Halbert had served as stated supply for three years, and during his ministry here at a stated meeting of Presbytery it was announced that a church had been organized at Christiana on March 6, 1873, with twelve members. These charter members had been transferred from the Penningtonville Church. Their names are listed as copied from the family record section of the Thompson family Bible: Thomas R. Hirst Franklin Homsher Isaac N. McGowan Isabel E. Hoey Sara Hirst Hannah D. Homsher Hannah E. McGowan Ellen D. Mercer Thomas J. Marsh James D. Reed Elizabeth Hollis Margaret J. Boon

Ruling Elders were Thomas R Hirst and Thomas Marsh. They were installed on March 6, and Mr. Hirst was ordained. Following Mr. Halbert, the pulpit of the Christiana Church Was filled jointly with the Atglen Church by the Rev. Calvin D. Wilson. 1879 to 1883. The church was vacant and the pulpit was supplied by the Session until 1887, when the Rev. AIgernon Marcellus was installed pastor. A year later Mr. Marcellus resigned. And again for the next five years all services were conducted by supplies.

In September of 1891, the Rev. J. Davidson Randolph was called, who served the two churches until his death in 1897. In 1896, the pastor and Session of the Christiana Church asked the Presbytery of Westminister to consent to the permanent transfer of that church to the Presbytery of Chester, but the request was re-fused. The request was carried to Synod the following year, which was memorialized by the Presbytery of Westminister not to grant the transfer. Our fourth pastor, the Rev. John B. Rendall, Jr., was installed June 20, 1897, and ministered here until his release in May, 1901. His successor, the Rev. Harry H. Pratt, served less than a year, and was followed by the Rev. Roland E. Crist. During Mr. Crist's pastorate of three years, the present stone church was built, costing something over $10,000, and was dedicated to the worship of God in December, 1902.

Some of our members remember Mr. Crist, and many more remem- ber his successor, the Rev. A. Thompson Stewart, who came to us in the spring of 1906. During his ministry legal steps were taken, chang-ing the name of the church from the Christiana Presbyterian Church to the Latta Memorial Presbyterian Church, in honor of its founder the Rev. James Latta. About this time, too, the Ladies' Auxiliary bought the lot on Pine Street, and the manse was built in 1914. Mr. Stewart resigned in 1922 because of poor health, and was succeeded by the Rev. William B. Buyers. He was installed January 16, 1923, and served his people faithfully until his health forced him to resign on April 30, 1946.

The ninth pastor was the Rev. William Everhart, who was installed in January, 1947, and ministered to the needs of our community unto November, 1949. In June, 1950, the Rev. Raymond C. Ortlund was called. Under his dynamic ministry the church was revived both physically and as well as spiritually. In 1951, the basement of the church was remodeled. He served to the needs of our community until 1953. The succeeding pastors were: the Rev. Warren H. Ball, 1953 to 1957, and then the Rev. Alan J. Hagenbuch, 1958 to 1959. In 1960 the Rev. John B. Tavaglione was called and installed July 7. Soon after his arrival it became apparent that the more than 250 Sunday School membership required better facilities. Taking over from those plans which were undertaken by Mr. Ball, and as the re-sult of everyone's prayers and efforts, the new Christian Education building cornerstone was laid in 1961, and on September 23, 1962 the building was dedicated to the glory of God.

The oldest living member is Mrs. Elizabeth Moore Knight. She became a member of our church March 31, 1895. And the oldest living and active Elder is Mr. John E. Thompson, ordained May 29, 1928. In the past few years we have seen gone to be with the Lord other two oldest and outstanding Elders, Mr. A. Willard Baker and Mr. Hiram Rea.

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