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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

Since 1744 the Gap Mines have found copper deposits in shafts 60' to 280' deep in this area in the northwestern section of Bart Town-ship. After vicissitudes aplenty, the Gap Mining Company opened again on a larger scale. In the summer of 1856, two acres were donated by them for an Episcopal Church and cemetery.

The English style 30' x 60' building with a seating capacity of two hundred and a value of $2,000 was voluntarily subscribed, opening September 27, 1858. B. B. Kilikelly of All Saints, Paradise, was pastor. The mines closed, the personnel scattered, and the work was discontinued.

The Gap mines opened as early as 1744 for the mining of copper, discarding the nickel matter in the ore dug from shafts, sixty to two hundred and eighty feet deep. Five companies at various times tried to make this profitable and then for forty years the mines were entirely closed. In 1849 the chartered Gap Mining Company opened again on a larger scale. In 1853 one of the miners discovered nickel, and then the mining for nickel began. An independent company a mile to the north in Paradise Township built a smelting plant for the nickel mines. For these two projects a store and twenty-three dwell- ing houses were necessary, and a hundred and fifty men were employed.

With this personnel hereabouts, the Grace Church Episcopal Con-gregation of Bart Township received for $5 a plot of one acre, 82 perches from the Gap Mining Company on July 20, 1857, on the Georgetown-London Grove Tavern Road. The church, 30' x 60' built after the early English pointed style with a seating capacity of 200 and a value of $2000 voluntarily subscribed, was dedicated Septem-ber 27, 1858. B. B. Killikelly, pastor of All Saints, Paradise, held services every two weeks with Sunday School six months of the year. As the mining industry subsided by the turn of the century, the people disappeared, too, and the house was deserted and neglected.

In 1935 David S. High of Sunnyside bought a farm adjoining the church and placed the Rintz family of Sunnyside on it. They to-gether had a conviction that mission work should be opened here. Hence Sem Eby, Musser S. Herr, Jacob T. Harnish, and David S. High canvassed the community and found a favorable outlook and a real need. It was taken up with the Mission Board, who referred it to the ministry of the Paradise Church. The latter opened Sunday school on September 29, 1935, with 110 present. David S. High was appointed superintendent, but due to his work at Sunnyside, almost from the start it devolved upon the assistant, Edgar Denlinger. The secretary- treasurer was Reuben W. Newswanger. John C. Hershey was the chorister.

In these thirty years souls have been saved, workers have been inspired and blessed and some have been trained here for work in many other fields. Elva F. Newswanger in 1941 went on to Cottage City and for some years as Mrs. Harry Gascho at Wood River, Nebraska, but now at Cass Lake, Minnesota, is serving her Lord in this North Central Conference Mission Field. In 1942 Irene Stauffer went to Tampa to the Sharon School and was serving there for many years, but now is so serving at the Christopher Dock Men-nonite School, near Souderton. In 1942, December 27, the first church wedding was held here, when Kenneth Smoker and Rhoda M. Newswanger, two of the workers, were married. Since, they have been serving at Seventh St., Reading, in the Missouri field, Conway, Kansas, Madisonville, La. and more recently back at Kansas again. October 16, 1949, Edgar Denlinger the Superintendent was ordained at Paradise for the E. Brewton, Alabama field, and has found his field of service in the Deep South since. Paul White who was a worker in 1933 and Summer Bible School Superintendent two years, is now at Calling Lake, Alberta. Paul E. Mast who was ordained as Pastor Janu-my 20, 1952, moved to Lansing, North Carolina, by the spring of 1956. Elizabeth Denlinger, who served here prior to answering the Tampa, Fla. call, was a standby herein for many years and is now In the Strasburg-Paradise area as a home maker. Ellen Eby, now the wife of Harold F. Shearer, of Immokalee, Florida, Migrant project. and Miriam Weaver wife of Luke G. Stoltzfus, Diamond St., PhillI-e de'lphia, both received valuable experience and training here for their future opportunities of serving the Master. Amos W. Weaver became an area pastor and principal of Lancaster Mennonite School as a result If the application to the work here. In fact John W. Winters recieved some training there prior to till' Oxford Circle, Philadelphia, mission field entry. But not all deserted the local field, for John C. Hershey has been faithfully holding the fort since it opened. C. Marvin Eshelman is the present pastor since July 4, 1956, and since July 21, 1963, David N. Wadel also serves here and at Mt. Pleasant. New faithful faces can be seen on the average Sunday as sixty or more or less assemble to enjoy the feasts at the Lord's Table. In 1965 the church and cemetery became the property of the Trustees of the Nickel Mines Mennonite Church. John C. Hershey is the Sunday School Superintendent with an attendance of 41 and an aver-age of 34. David N. Wadel had charge of the 1965 Summer Bible School with an attendance of 185 and an average of 200. The work continues under the blessings of the Lord.

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