Church History

The town of Maytown dates its history from 1760. On March 13, 1776, Jacob Downer gave Joseph Simmons a mortgage on a tract of land he had acquired, and in the recording of it, this passage appears: “Part of which is laid out into lots on which is erected a town called Maytown.”

After Downer laid out the town, he seems to have invited a number of German families to settle there. They were entirely surrounded by Scotch Irish Presbyterians, who had erected a church building at Donegal which was the earliest church in this locality (now Donegal Presbyterian Church on Donegal Springs Road).

There was in fact a Donegal Reformed Church build in 1745, near Milton Grove, eight miles from Maytown. A number of the families from this congregation were among the first in the Maytown congregation and in all probability the organizers of the Maytown Reformed church. According to the minutes of the Coetus of the Reformed Church in Pennsylvania, which was discovered in the archives of the Hague in Holland, the church was formed sometime before 1765. The first baptismal record is dated 1765 and other church records begin in that year,

A Rev. William Hendel preached at the church on May 8, 1765; during that time the church was served by pastors who served numerous churches. The earliest of these was John Conrad Bucher who was pastor of the Lebanon church in 1760 and visited 21 other churches, among them Maytown, Manheim, Rapho, and Blaser’s (now Elizabethtown). Rev. Bucher served as a Captain in the English Army during the French and Indian War and as a chaplain in the Revolutionary War. A window in his honor is found in the hallway of the Maytown Reformed Church.

In the early years, preaching services were held in private homes. On August 1, 1769, Jacob Downer and his wife sold two lots, 62 Vt. feet each, on Elizabeth Street, and extending in depth to an alley two hundred and fifty feet, to Garret Fiscus and Christian Fox, trustees of the Reformed Church of Maytown. The original deed (indenture) for the present property reads: “This Indenture made the first day of August, in the ninth year of the reign of George, the Third, of Great Britain, France and Ireland, King and Defender of the Faith, etc., and in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and sixty-nine, etc.”

In the same year, 1769, a log church was built. The Reformed Church of Maytown was the first church structure in Donegal Township as now constituted, with the exception of the Donegal Presbyterian Church. The log structure served as a sanctuary until 1805, when the Rev. H.B. Schaffner made the following entry in the church record: “In the year 1805, we, the members of the Reformed congregation in Maytown, united to build a new church in the honor of our God -although our membership was small we saw its necessity because the old church was entirely dilapidated.”

Being unable to secure the amount needed to erect a new church, Henry Haines, a member of the congregation as well as a member of the legislature of Pennsylvania, came to their assistance. He had “An Act” passed to raise a sum of money by lottery, not to exceed $3000, to defray the expenses of building a church in Maytown. John Graybill drew the grand prize of $1000 which he donated to the church.

Built at a cost of $2457.26, the new brick church was dedicated August 21, 1808.

The main building of the present church, not including the hallway and bell tower, is the original brick church building. At that time it had but one floor, and in the rear at the level of the present second floor there was a gallery. In the center of the south wall a wine glass pulpit was located.

On the spire of this church a weathervane depicting Gabriel blowing his trumpet was placed. This was removed when the present tower was built in 1893.  For many years it adorned the barn of Dr. G.A. Harter. In 1930 he returned it to the church and it was again placed on the tower.

A pipe organ, built and installed by Gottleib Stralheim at a cost of $293, was dedicated on Christmas Day, 1808. On the communion case in the church parlor can be seen the wooden torches and eagle that adorned the old organ. A committee was appointed to go to Philadelphia to purchase bells for the church, and on May 16, 1810, two bells were placed in the tower.  Henry Haines, a member of that committee, paid for one of the bells himself as a gift to the congregation (the cost of both being $416.50). Both the pastor of the Reformed Church and the pastor of the Lutheran Church took part in the dedication service. These bells are still in use. On one of them the following beautiful inscription is cast, “My Sound Unto Thy People, O Lord, Shall Call Them to Thy Word.”

In 1859, the church was remodeled. The gallery was made into a second floor, the main floor becoming the Sunday School room. In 1893, the old spire was removed and a brick tower and hallway added to the original church building. At the turn of the century, the present art glass windows were dedicated.   With these changes the building assumed its present appearance.  In 1908 a two manual Moeller pipe organ was installed in the church; in 1913 the church auditorium [Sunday School room] was frescoed and a new electric lighting system was installed.  In 1915, an electric bellows was added to the pipe organ. A major redecoration was done in 1930, and several times since then.

Most recently, the main part of the interior of the building was renovated in 2006-7 with wall repairs and new paint in the sanctuary, tower room, and both upstairs and downstairs hallways.  Restorative work including painting was completed in 2015 by members of the congregation in the downstairs Sunday School room which also serves as the Fellowship Hall.

In 1957, Maytown Evangelical and Reformed Church became Maytown Reformed United Church of Christ, as a result of the merger of the Congregational Christian Churches and the Evangelical and Reformed Churches in the United States. Today, this congregation continues to nurture a strong connection with both the wider church and with its ecumenical neighbors.

The present congregation, though small, is a vital one. Members enjoy the close relational benefits of being a small “family” where everyone knows your name. Sunday School classes with excellent teachers offer children one-on-one attention.

Among the many outreach ministries are support of the Donegal-Conoy Food Bank and the local Homes of Hope transitional housing ministry to the homeless. Other efforts include significant support for the CROP Walk, supplying health, school, and clean-up kits for Church World Service, the Heifer Project, and Blankets and Tools of Hope.

We also added a Prayer Pole set in the middle of our prayer garden. You are welcome to visit and write your prayers and concerns on this prayer pole. You may want to sit and meditate under our oak trees. Each week we will take the prayers that are penned on our pole and lift them to God after worship service.

2 Responses to Church History

  1. Elizabeth King says:

    Hello, my name is Lizzie King and I just got engaged on Tuesday and my fiancé and I were wondering if you guys hold wedding ceremonies at your church? Do you have to be a member to have a wedding their? What is the Maximum number of people who could fit? And how much would it cost to use it for just the ceremony! We’re looking at June 20th 2020. Thank you so much.

  2. I talked to your mom and unfortunately, our sanctuary is too small to accommodate you.
    Congratulations on your engagement!

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