July 19th, 2007
Watsontown’s first religious organization was a prelude to the ecumenical movement that was to occur on a much larger scale over a century later. Watsontown’s faith communities, for the most part, have their beginnings in the Watsontown Union Sunday School. This school was union in character representing all the religions of the people who lived in Watsontown at that time. The Sunday school dates back to December 24, 1860 when Joseph Hollopeter, Abram T. Goodman, Joseph Everitt, William H. Follmer, and John L. Watson met to formulate the Constitution and By-laws of the Sunday school. Officers were elected with the following results: Joseph Hollopeter, superintendent; Joseph Everitt, assistant superintendent; William H. Follmer, secretary; Jacob P. Starr, treasurer; and Ambrose Lamm, librarian.
The Sunday school met at the Academy Building on First Street and attendance on the first day, January 13, 1861, was sixty-four scholars and ten teachers. A few months after the Sunday school was established the country was plunged into a great Civil War. Under remarks in the secretary’s book it was noted that the Reverend Curtis, on behalf of the Sunday school, presented a Bible to David Bly, one of the teachers who had volunteered his services in the defense of his country. The presentation was a very solemn and serious one and many tears were shed.
As the Sunday school continued to meet regularly, arrangements were made in 1864 for the conducting of services in the Academy Building by the various denominations. These arrangements were approved by the representatives of these denominations as follows: William H. Follmer, German Reformed; David Teas, Reformed Presbyterian; Joseph Everitt, Baptist; Joseph Hollopeter, Presbyterian; and Daniel Kramer, Lutheran. The schedule was as follows: June 19, 1864, Methodist; June 26, 1864, German Reformed and Lutheran; July 3, 1864, Presbyterian; and July 10, 1864, Baptist and Reformed Presbyterian. The various congregations also had a designated night that they could use the Academy Building as follows: Monday nights, Baptists; Tuesday nights, Reformed Presbyterians; Wednesday nights, German Reformed; Thursday nights, Presbyterians; Friday nights, Lutherans; and Saturday nights, Methodist Episcopal.
The Lutheran and Reformed congregations, working in cooperation with each other, built St. Bartholomew’s Evangelical Lutheran and German Reformed Church on the northeast corner of Main and Fourth Streets. The cornerstone was laid on July 15, 1866 and the exercises were held in the old Bill Mill to avoid the heat of the scorching sun. This church was union in nature and welcomed the other denominations to continue to be a part of the Union Sunday School and in the latter part of August 1866, the Union Sunday School was transferred into the new Union Church. This arrangement lasted a number of years until the various denominations built their own buildings and supported their own Sunday schools.
[History of Trinity United Church of Christ, Watsontown, PA, Robison, Jr., James D., and Wright, Dorothy M., 1986, pg. 1; The Milton Evening Standard, Seventieth Anniversary Edition, January 25, 1960, pg 9.]
Last Modified: 11.08.07