A former historian has reviewed, studied, and presented many of the earlier facts from records of The Lancaster County Court House and the Historical Society of Lancaster County dating back to 1791, when a group of men met at the home of Christian leFever to discuss plans to for a a Methodist Society. The idea was approved, and incorporated, by charter on April 6,1791, with Mr. LeFever, S. J. Crawford, and Thomas Smith as Trustees, known as Mount Hope Episcopal Society.
This Society apparently met in two classes, one at the home of Jonathan McMichaels, the other at the home of Thomas Smith, How often they met, we are not told. However, these men realized the need for fellowship in their search for growth in Christian faith and maturity. The worship of God and the spreading of the Gospel were in their purpose.
Can you picture the countryside at this time? This was only a short time after the severing of ties with England. George Washington was serving his first term as President, and many inhabitants would have lived through that revolution. The grants of William Penn were granted in the century before, and it would not seen amiss to imagine the area as mostly forest and very sparsely populated. The entire population, according to a census of 1790, was slightly over 434,000, compared to 11,864,751 for the state of Pennsylvania in 1980. Homes were mostly constructed of log or stone near a source of water, mostly springs, and would have been very small by todayís standards, lacking all conveniences.
These founders of the Methodist Societies could possibly trace their ancestry and influence to the Mother Country, England. Records indicate it was only 184 that John Wesley ordained the first Bishops in America, this took place in Baltimore, MD. These men were pioneers in the area for the spreading of Wesley's Theology from his experience of Aldersgate Street. Material possessions were very limited, and transportation was either on foot, horseback, or wagon. Roads were paths or cartways. These founding fathers, lacking in so many ways, saw their need for God and his help in strengthening their faith.
This evidence would point to the fact that Mount Hope was one of the earlier Methodist Societies. They continued to meet in homes in the area, and new converts were baptized by circuit riders. They visited periodically, some-times conducting outdoor services near the Buck, the location of the services is not known exactly.
In 1834 'the trustees felt the congregation was large enough and stable enough to build a place of worship. This would have been during the term of our seventh President, Andrew Jackson. Records show that one quarter acre of ground was purchased for $10.00 from a Mr. Henry Harmon. That location is also unknown, but was also reported to be near the Buck, some sources indicate it was in what is now Providence Township. The Buck, being located at that time in Drumore Township, part of it still being located there, the other part being located in East Drumore, the division occuring in 1883. We are presently located in East Drumore. The original building was only 25 feet square, which today would seem very small indeed. In 1848, due to growth of membership, 16 additional feet were added.
In 1859, more area was needed, and the present site was acquired with the cemetery. That first structure was supposedly near the cemetery or the driveway on the south of the existing church, and was dedicated debt free Nov. 4,1860, the cost being $5,000.00. During this period we have records of pastors who served here; R. S. Gillingham being the first, and Joseph Carlile who reportedly dedicated the first church on this site.
Prior to 1860 Mount Hope vas one of eight churches making up the Southern Lancaster County Circuit. In 1860 Mount Hope became a part of Fulton Circuit, where it remained during the period of the Civil War.
During the pastorate of one Samuel B. Reisner in 1874, a mighty revival occurred In which approximately 200 persons were converted to Christianity, many coming from the nearby borough of Quarryville. these conversions led to the forning of tbe church now known as Memorial. In 1884, Hount Hope was removed from. Fulton Circuit and joined Quarryville as a circuit.
About tbe year 1900, the membership was near 200. A new building was proposed, and plans for the present Sanctuary were secured from Church Extension on May 12, 1904 following the plan of one in tbe state of washington. Construction began, and tbe Sanctuary vas dedicated Jan. 16, 1905, debt free. From a picture we have of that first building, it appears to be constructed of brick. What became of it I do not know or vhy the congregation worshipped at a one room school during the construction of our present church I have no idea.
By 1917, Mount Hope, Wesley over on Route 472, and Bethel on Route 222, near Robert Fulton birthplace or Swift Middle School, were united and known as Hount Hope Circuit. They existed as such until the membership at Bethel declined to such an extent that the congregation could not support it. It was deleted from the circuit, and after several attempts to revive it failed, the Conference eventually sold it to a very plain group, or branch of the Mennonites, who conducted service regularly. Mount Hope went on as a circuit with Wesley until 1970when each church received a part time minister.
During the year of 1917, minutes show monthly collections varied from $13.90 to $46.40. In November it was necessary to borrow $175.00 to pay the pastors salary, carrying over into 1918, the entire collections went to pay the pastors' salary for quite a few months. $105.65 was the amount paid to satisfy the salary, in full, for the conference year.
April 15,1918 minutes show Rev. Clarence Howell to be the new pastor, and he was paid $83.35 for two months salary. At the meeting of May 1918, the officers were asking for $1,000.00 for total expenses of the conference year. In July of that year the first furnace for beating the building was purchased for $235.00.
On Sept. 26, 1921. motion was made, and carried, to build the present parsonage. $800.00 was borrowed from one party, and $600.00 from another, at 6% interest. The house vas donated by Jacob Shaub, and was located south of Clearview Drive. A road, now closed continued from the foot of the hill, over to what is now Scotland Road. The house vas dismantled, and owed to the church grounds and reconstructed. It vas apparently occupied in June or July 1922, as the July minutes show insurance vas acquired for the pastors' furniture. This pastor, A. J. Lawson, must have worked at the actual construction, as he was paid for labor. fees were also set for Wesley and Bethel to share in the upkeep of the parsonage . $48.00 for Wesley and $22.00 for Bethel, which I think would be yearly; the period is not specified.
In Sept. 1928, it was decided to wire the parsonage and the church for electric service and a Delco generating plant to supply the current. $60.00 each to wire, and $150.00 cash for the generator, which was apparently only used for 7 years, for in Jan. 1936 the first bill vas paid to Pa. Power & Light Co. for service, the bill being $13.60. these were years of the great depression, and for many DOnths time after time money was borrowed from a member, an unmarried farm hand who lived and worked for bis brother-in-law and sister. Had it not been for this Saints' support I hate to think what would have taken place.Mount Hope owes that man a lot of respect.
From 1915 when we can find records of minutes of one man serving as secretary until Feb. 1946 when he resigned. During this mans last period of 3 years, the records were very vague and lacking in detail, due to what we would call Alzheimerís disease today. However, he was very faithful and missed very few meetings in that period of over 30 years.
We speak of the Old Testament as being male dominated, but even locally, I find no mention of women in office until 1948, when one was elected as junior delegate to annual conference. Monetary support is shown coming from the Ladies Aid, the former United Hethodist Women. In 1948 Mount Hope sent $38.83 for the support of Old Saint Georges Church Philadelphia, it being one of the oldest United States Churches of Hethodism.
During the period of the late 1940ís and early 1950, enrollment had in-creased in Sunday School to the point where space was at a premium, as all the classes were in the church proper, and the room in the rear. In the May meeting of 1950, discussion was begun regarding expansion, and various plans were discussed, including an addition to the rear of the pulpit, excavation of the basement, etc. The final plan was the conatruction of the present educational building, constructed on the site of the old horse shed, of which I can find no date of its being built , and on April 14, 1952 during the pastorate of Julius H. Heyer, the contract vas let for construction.It was dedicated in May 1953 by Delaar R. Probst, our new pastor.The membership at this time was reported to be 305.
The actual cost seems impossible to find, as details were handled by a building committee with their own treasurer, but I do find that the 1000 gallon fuel oil tank for oil supply vas donated by a member, and was filled for the first time by him at cost of $126.08. About this time it was suggested that 82 inactive persons be dropped from the church rolls, however, in April 1953 it vas reported that 46 had been removed on action by the Quarterly Conference. In the fall of 1953 the furnace in the parsonage was removed, and steam heat from the boiler in basement of educational building was installed, and in Dec. 1959 it was agreed to heat the sanctuary from the same boiler.
In the year 1956 Permastone was applied to the church building at a cOst of $5150.00. The slate was removed and the present. roof put on in 1968.
Our attendance and membership has fluctuated very much over the years, in the late 1950ís and well into the 1960ís we saw our young people leave when they became of employable and marriageable age. Many went to the church of their spouse, others to another church of their choice, others do not attend any, only one or two families remain today. The facilities we sought and provided, with a great deal of effort and sacrifice, are not being used to their capacity. The reasons I do not know. The programs were offered, the facilities were here, but for some cause interest seemed to wane. Perhaps one contributing factor was the combining of funds of Sunday School and Church under one treasurer. The enthusiasm and drive seemed to disappear, purpose seemed to diminish. Decisions of programs, study material, etc. could not be made by those directly involved, but bad to be approved by the bureaucracy with conference sanction, which was also time consuming. Evidence would indicate the community is not at fault, or the need for worship and spiritual growth diminished, as in 1791 ours was one of the pioneers without much rivalry. Today in this township alone, we find two large Independent congregations and one very small Independent group. One Mennonite, one Presbyterian, one Brethern. Several of those memberships double and triple our own. Nearby we have the Borough of Quarryville, with another Methodist, and Church of Christ. The Catholic Church has shown quite a growth also, as quite a few of our influx of new citizens in our developments are of this faith. Nearby we have a Baptist and a Church of God, and the Charismatic Movement of the last few years has had its effect on our development also
At the 1970 conference, the circuit of Mount Hope and Wesley was dissolved, and each assigned a part-time pastor. Authorities of the Church Conference have indicted the circuit could not afford a pastor, however in searching our records I find no evidence of Mount Hope having any choice in the matter. The pastor, Michael F. Davis was retired from full time and owned his own home in Quarryville and did not use the parsonage, so it was rented, without the best success, as much repair was needed when our next pastor came in 1977.
During this pastorate we seemed to be regaining some growth until its disasterous climax due to an unfortunate incident in which the pastor was dismissed by the confrence.The pastor , the congregation, the community as a whole suffered from this experience, making very evident the weakness of humanity. In the period immediately following, we were served by two pastors sharing responsibilities, the conference supplying a portion of the funds. During this period it was decided to try to secure a full time pastor; our present one.
However, with all our growths and declines there have been a remnant who have made their contributions of time and funds to make the worship more meaningful over the years.At least two organs have been donated.one by members, and the replacement for it by the same family and a former pastor, it still being used.
Over the years quite a few bequests have been made to Mount Hope, some put to improvements and some have been invested. In the last 15 years the parsonage has been improved, with a remodeled bathroom and kitchen, parking lot resurfaced and lined, new storm windows were donated and installed on the north and east of the parsonage. The bas t of the church vas improved with. storage room, and one larger room with divider for two Sunday School classes, all with donated time. During the summer of 1985 a leak vas discovered in the steam boiler, and it vas decided to replace it with two smaller ones, one for the parsonage and the larger one for the other two buildings. This vas accomplished just barely before the beating season began and was paid for by contributions, in the amount of about $7,000.00 without a loan, a commendable accomplishment. As to the future I am not sure. Just nine years ago the budget total was $20,000.00. This year, 1986, the budget is in excess of $50,000.00, and more than 2/5 of that amount going for ministrial support, cash, hospitalization,pension, housing, travel, utilities, etc. and a nearly constant membership. You, as members of the historical group, have seen many of the struggles our fore-fathers endured for survival, but if Mount Hope is to endure, perhaps even greater sacrifice awaits those who follow.