A Mighty Work of God in a Small Town
A History of Berean Bible Fellowship Church
Terre Hill, Pennsylvania
Kevin W. Kirkpatrick
October 30, 2004
A BRIEF OVERVIEW
Before there was a town named Terre Hill in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, a group of Mennonite believers came together who used a converted stable for worship. The area at that time was known as Fairville. In 1858, a group of Old Order Mennonites started to meet in homes for weekly prayer meetings. Since these were frowned upon at the time, the group separated themselves from the church and took the name of Evangelical Mennonites and began to meet in that stable in the west end of town. That group met, unaffiliated, as best as we know, until they came to the attention of William Gehman of the Evangelical United Mennonites who were beginning to form in the Lehigh Valley. In Verhandlungen, it is recorded, at the Annual Conference of the Evangelical United Mennonites in 1881, that “William Gehman, Presiding Elder, shall attend to the call of the brothers of Fairville and Baumansville, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and if necessary that other ministers shall be called.” Already some interest was showing for the teachings of who the Bible Fellowship Church (BFC) calls, “Father” Gehman. It seems that their pastor, Abner Clime had gone to preach in Mount Joy where he met Brother Gehman in 1879 and invited him to come to preach in Terre Hill. Not unlike a church that began with a desire for extra prayer, it took a few years until they decided to become part of Gehman’s group. When they did join, they accepted a pastor from the group. Samuel. H. Frey was their pastor in 1882 when they bought land across the street from the stable and erected a church. At that time, he was assisted by a young evangelist named Marks D. Haws. They were part of a circuit with Reading. The next year, Marks Haws was given the Terre Hill church as his sole charge. In 1884, Terre Hill, (still known as Fairville) hosted the Annual Conference of the Mennonite Brethren in Christ for its first and only time. In 1887, the small town of Remps, Brecknock Township in Berks County was added to the Terre Hill charge. In 1904, the towns of Fleetwood and Blandon were also added to the circuit. Terre Hill remained part of a circuit, with Blandon and Fleetwood, (Remps disappeared prior to 1910). Then in 1947,again, after much prayer, the elders of Terre Hill, decided to take a step of faith and petitioned Annual Conference to allow them to call their own pastor. After a parsonage was built by the Weber Brothers, Robert C. Reichenbach was called to serve as the first full time pastor of Terre Hill in over 40 years. During the 1950's, both the church and parsonage were remodeled to accommodate the growth of new believers that were being brought into the church, under the ministry of Pastor Reichenbach and his successor, Robert W. Smock. The church continued to grow until the mid - 1960's when a group of 42 saw the need of a church in the nearby town of Ephrata. The subsequent years have been full of ebbs and flows in attendance and spiritual growth. Four years ago, Pocket Testament League Evangelist, Kevin W. Kirkpatrick was called and serves as their current pastor. The church is again in a time of growth.
Beginning with Abner Clime in 1879, Terre Hill has
been the home of some tremendous men of God. One of the
first was Marks D. Haws. His great-grandson is currently the
pastor of St. John’s Center United Church of Christ just
outside of town. Pastor Haws served twice as the pastor of
Berean Church. The first time was in 1883, just after the
“new” building was completed. He served until replaced by Brother Abraham Kaufman in 1887. He was called again in 1892 and served all four charges until 1895. His ability to preach was renowned. In 1896, he tendered his resignation from the Conference and it was accepted. His second term was followed by a familiar name in the BFC, A. B. Gehret. He was the father of Presiding Elder and pastor, T. D. Gehret and the grandfather of Ephrata Delegate and member of the Conference Board of Directors, Robert W. Gehret. Brother Gehret was replaced by R. D. Dreisbach and his wife as recorded in the minutes of the 1897 Annual Conference. It states that both were assigned as pastors of the Terre Hill and Remps circuit in two different years. It was during his tenure as pastor, that the church petitioned Annual Conference to determine when it was expedient for the pastor to vacate the parsonage following Annual Conference. At that time, the church owned a parsonage on Vine St. in Terre Hill, approximately 2 ½ blocks from the church. Also, the little town of Remps was removed from the circuit and Terre Hill did not have to share a pastor with another charge again until Remps reappeared in 1901. At that time, O. S. Hillegass was the pastor. It was during this time that another man within the body, E. W. Martin pursued a license with the denomination. O. S. Hillegass was the pastor until he was replaced by George A. Campbell in 1902. At the 1904 Conference, the following appeared in the minutes:
“WHEREAS, The Terre Hill class has not sent a delegate to this conference but has sent an official notice that they desire no preacher sent them from this conference, stating that they would not accept or stand by any regular pastor, therefore Resolved, That we recommend the conference to refer Terre Hill to the Stationing Committee to be supplied.”
For some reason, the brethren in Terre Hill did not wish to be assigned a pastor by Annual Conference that year. But as it worked out, eventually they did and that man was W. W. Zimmerman who served only one year. This was the year that the work in Remps disappears from the Conference record and Fleetwood and Blandon were added to Terre Hill’s circuit. He was replaced by W. Steinmetz who was given $15.00 to cover his moving expenses. In that year, E. W. Martin sent a request to Conference and set conditions on what pastor the church would accept. Brother Steinmetz was given charge of the Fleetwood, Blandon, and Terre Hill circuit which he served until replaced by F. M. Hottel in 1907. In 1912, the elders of Fleetwood, Blandon, and Terre Hill petitioned Conference to remove them from mission status and allow them to be self-supporting. In 1913, Terre Hill became the first church pastored by B. Bryan Musselman. He stayed at the helm of these three churches until he was replaced in 1918, by G. F. Yost. Brother Yost could not have known, when he married Paul and Alice Wolf in 1921, that Sister Wolf would survive until the 21st century. He was replaced by A. G. Woodring in 1923. Pastor Woodring began the longest tenure of any pastor in the history of the Terre Hill church to date. He was the pastor for 22 years. He was followed by J. B. Henry in 1945. Through the years the church continued to grow and reach out into its neighborhood, until, in 1947, according to the minutes of Annual Conference, the church had grown to the point to where it was felt that it was again time to go it alone with the following resolution:
“‘Resolved, That whereas the Terre Hill Class of the M. B. in C. is having a dwelling erected which shall serve as a parsonage, we hereby petition Annual Conference to station a Pastor to Terre Hill this year.’. . . Whereas, The congregation at Terre Hill has through their Quarterly Conference petitioned the Annual Conference to have a Pastor stationed at Terre Hill, therefore Resolved, That this matter be referred to the Stationing, Boundary and Appropriating Committee.”
That pastor, the first resident of the new parsonage at 404 West Main St., was Robert C. Reichenbach. Eight years later, Brother Reichenbach moved on and was replaced by Robert W. Smock. It was under the leadership of these two men that the church experienced tremendous growth. Pastor Smock was replaced by Donald B. Scheaffer in 1963 and W. B. Hottel in 1966. 1968 brought Leon Overpeck as pastor. The church continued to grow, until under the pastorate of W. W. Hartman, who arrived in 1971, the new sanctuary was built. Pastor Hartman was replaced by William Graybill in 1976. He in turn was replace by Stephen L. Trommler in 1984. Pastor Trommler was the pastor until he resigned in 1999. In November of 2000, God called Kevin Kirkpatrick as the pastor.
The following is a list of former pastors found in the bulletin for dedication of the new sanctuary March 31, 1974 (it has been updated to the present):
1879 Abner Clime
1882 Samuel H. Frey
1883 Marks D. Haws
1887 Abraham Kaufman
1890 Abel Strawn
1892 Marks D. Haws
1895 Adam B. Gehret
1897 R. D. Dreisbach
1899 O. S. Hillegass
1902 George. A. Campbell
1904 W. W. Zimmerman
1905 W. Steinmetz
1907 Franklin. M. Hottel
1910 J. F. Barrel
1913 B. Bryan Musselman
1918 G. F Yost
1923 A. G. Woodring
1945 J. B. Henry
1947 R. C. Reichenbach
1955 Robert W. Smock
1963 Donald B. Schaeffer
1966 Winfred. B. Hottel
1971 Wilbur. W. Hartman
1976 William Graybill II
1984 Stephen L. Trommler
2000 Kevin W. Kirkpatrick
In 1858, when the first group of believers met in a building for the first time, it was located directly across the street in what is now part of the property of Mr. and Mrs. Irvin Martin. Recently, when planting shrubs on the bank, beside the driveway, at the current parsonage, the old foundation was discovered. There is a picture of this old structure in the bulletin from the dedication of the 1974 addition. This old stable met the needs of the growing congregation until it joined the Evangelical United Mennonites, led by William Gehman, in 1882. At that time, a new structure was built at what is now 407 West Main Street in Terre Hill, for a cost of $3,000. At that time, according to Conference records there was also a parsonage. According to Mrs. Alice Wolf, this parsonage was located near her home on Vine Street. In 1946 through 1947, Jacob and Paul Weber built a home that was intended to be the parsonage for a full time pastor. Once the home was completed and Annual Conference sent R. C. Reichenbach to be the pastor, Brother Jacob Weber sold the home to the church for the pastor’s use. In the beginning it contained a garage in the eastern end of the home. It was Brother Reichenbach who bravely added indoor plumbing to the church facility in the face of some opposition in 1955. Prior to that, there were outdoor restroom facilities near the eastern edge of the current parking lot. (One of the reasons that the church lasted so long without indoor plumbing was that most of the congregation came from town and were close to their own homes.) During the tenure of Pastor Smock, it was decided that more classroom space was needed. Therefore, in place of the garage, an annex was added to the parsonage. It contained two additional bedrooms, 3 or 4 classrooms (depending on whether or not the wall was open or closed), and a set of bathrooms. Classes were held there, including youth group downstairs in the basement. Again, growth in the church necessitated more space in the sanctuary. Land was purchased on the western end of the church property and a large sanctuary was added, also many classrooms and a fellowship hall was built during the pastorate of W. W. Hartman. The old church was renovated and became the eastern wing of the new facility. During the time between the pastorates of Pastors Trommler and Kirkpatrick, the church undertook the renovation of the parsonage. Among those who worked hard on the parsonage were Elder Ron Derr, a track coach at Cocalico High School brought the track team in and assisted in the repainting and deacon Lamar Weaver did the majority of the drywalling. Just this year, the sanctuary was remodeled. The walls were painted, new carpet laid down and the pews were re-cushioned. Currently, the church facilities are more than adequate to meet the needs of a growing congregation although it is a dream of the pastor and congregation to build a gymnasium to meet the needs of the church and community.
OUR REGIONAL AFFILIATION
When the Terre Hill church was first brought into the Conference Sunday School conventions were a way for the churches to get together. In 1897 the following appeared in Annual Conference minutes, “Resolved, That we hold two Sunday School Conventions this year. One English, including Norristown, Gratersford, Royersford, Spring City, Quakertown, Hatfield, Reading, and Terre Hill; and one English and German, consisting of all the other Sunday Schools.” At the time, there was still a large German contingent in the fellowship. Yet, there was a growth among those who did not speak in the German dialects and they needed to be taught as well. Beginning in 1900, the denomination had grown to the point where districts were needed for organizing these conventions, and Terre Hill became part of the Schuylkill Valley District. At that point in time, it was one of the more western towns represented. There was, in 1900 a Central Pennsylvania district which consisted of the works of the Gospel Herald Society. An interesting note, in 1902 these conventions were held on Ascension Day. Terre Hill at that time was considered a mission church and in 1905 was listed as part of the Reading District, again it still was the Western edge of the Conference. The presiding elder of that district was C. H. Brunner. In 1907, the name of that district was changed to Bethlehem with H. B. Musselman as the presiding elder. Through the course of time the Bethlehem district changed its name to the Allentown district. It was around this time that York begins to show up in Conference reports making Terre Hill no longer the farthest western point for the denomination. During this time, there were also divisions for where and when you would attend Mizpah Grove for camp meeting. For this purpose, Terre Hill was again part of the Bethlehem district. In 1959, the regions were again realigned for the purpose of Sunday School conventions. Terre Hill became part of the Fleetwood region with Blandon, Emmaus, Graterford, Harleysville, Macungie, Quakertown, Reading, Royersford, Spring City, Zionsville and Hatfield. Again, among this group, Terre Hill was at the western edge. In 1965, the regions were again adjusted and simplified. There were two, Western and Eastern. Terre Hill, of course, was assigned to the Western Region. The regions were fine tuned again in 1998, with Terre Hill becoming part of the Capital Region. This region has organized itself around a missions consortium in order to shorten the deputation process for any missionary that God calls from among the eight churches of the region. Those churches are York, Lancaster, Paradise, Ephrata, Lebanon, Harrisburg, Newark, DE, and Terre Hill. These pastors have been meeting for quite some time for prayer and fellowship the first Wednesday of each month. Among the missionaries that have been sent to the field through the consortium are Kyle and Jenny Merkey, Craig and Corrinna Miller, Gina Bulgrien, Barry and Lisa Miller, and Craig and Mary Tress.
Near the beginning of the ministry in Terre Hill, God called the church to be involved in reaching souls for Christ. During the pastorate of Marks D. Haws, Terre Hill was chosen as the site for one of the camp meetings for the denomination. During a recent conversation with Alice Wolf (see “Our People” section for more about this interesting sister), there was a large camp meeting ground in Terre Hill. It was located on the present Camp Meeting Road, of course. It was here that some of the great preachers of the Evangelical United Mennonites and later the Mennonite Brethren in Christ would come and preach. God used these meetings to call men, women boys and girls to Himself. When the number of camp meetings were changed and the location more centralized to Mizpah Grove, Terre Hill was part of the group that would attend the second week. Again, these were times of great preaching and wonderful fellowship. There were other ways that the church reached out to its community. During conversations with men and women in their late 50's and up, they remember that Brother Reichenbach’s Sunday School started earlier than the other churches in town. Therefore, their parents would allow them to attend Sunday School at Berean MBC at 9:00 AM, and they were still able to attend their home church down the street. Terre Hill, though it is a small town, has three historic churches. Each of them is over 100 years old and there is a history of some sort of communication between them The United Methodist church began in around 1850 as Evangelical United Brethren and the Evangelical Congregational Church was founded in the 1890's. It was generally to these two churches, (although I have talked to some who would attended the Lutheran church which was also a Union church) that the children would then attend following the wonderful teaching that they received at the Terre Hill church. The Sunday School program has been strong through out the history of the church. Even before the turn of the last century (1900), records from congregation meetings show that the Sunday School had more than 170 scholars enrolled with an average attendance of 114 (Quarterly Congregational Meeting record September 13, 1902). Another way that children and families were reached for Christ was through an adventurous Vacation Bible School program. During the years that Pastor Smock was here, it seemed to really grow. Pastor Smock reports attendances of over 300 children and adults at closing ceremonies during his tenure at the church. When pressed how he ever got that many in a much smaller sanctuary that is available today, he replied that some were downstairs and others were in the balcony. Still, this was a tremendous way to reach out to the children of the community. This program became what is now known as Day Camp in 1970. The first director was John Longenecker. In that report, it was noted that there were numerous decisions in both Primary and Junior classes. It was also held off site the for the first time. A few years into the program, it was moved to Greenview Bible Conference in Fivepointville, where it remained until 2004 when it moved to Woodcrest Retreat Center outside Ephrata. The current director is Mrs. Louise Leakey, who has been involved either as a teacher, helper or director for nearly every day camp. Over the years, many children were reached with the Gospel, with attendances averaging over 100 children each year. Often, staffing needs were such that helpers were drawn from other churches. Over time, it has become not only a way to reach children, but also a way to train teachers and future leaders of the church. Many of the current teachers and helpers were once campers. It is getting to the point where we are getting children of parents who were day campers in their youth. It is very encouraging to hear the testimonies of Christian parents who bring their children to day camp and tell the staff that they received Christ at day camp years ago, it changed their life, and they want to make sure that their children have the same opportunity. Along with day camp, the church has historically run youth week during the same week, in the evenings. These have been going on for over 20 years. Again, God has used youth week to motivate teens into a deeper relationship with Himself and brought many to Himself during these weeks. Some have made decisions to follow the Lord into full time Christian service. Currently, there is a very active youth group within the church, led by Ron Derr, a public high school teacher. Ron has a real heart for teens and is a great teacher. Another way that the church reached into neighborhoods with the Gospel was through a bus ministry. In the past, children were not the only target of the outreach ministry of the church. During Pastor Smock’s time at the church, he had a radio ministry on local radio stations. Also, the church had an active Woman’s Missionary Society that lasted for over 40 years. Missions has been a passion of the church. God has raised up two different missionary families within the past 30 years. The first were Keith and Carol Anderson, currently serving with Rio Grande Bible Institute in MacAllen, Texas. The other family was Dan and Melody Witwer. Between 1985 until 2002, Dan and Melody served with Greater Europe Mission in Ireland as church planters. Dan is currently on staff at Hershey Evangelical Free Church. In the past 4 years, after the hiring of former street evangelist Kevin Kirkpatrick, the church has been involved in reaching the community through a booth at the annual Terre Hill Days celebration. While food is sold in part of the stand, Pastor Kevin undertakes Open Air children’s meetings in the rear. In the past 3 years, over 100 children and 100 adults have heard the gospel. Another outreach has been ongoing the past 2 falls. The church has sponsored a float in the local fair parades; over 14,000 tracts and pieces of other gospel literature have been distributed. Not wanting to be left out of the curve, recent phone calls have indicated that the church’s website has been used to reach people as well.
Two other areas that were note worthy areas of ministry were benevolence and music. The story is told of how Brother Henry Weber would bring baked goods to the pastor’s family nearly every week. It has also been seen with its commitment to giving to missions and church extension. When the apartment building burned and left more than ten families homeless, the church jumped into action to make sure that their physical needs were met. They even hosted a Christmas dinner for the displaced families that Christmas where gifts were given and the Gospel presented by Pastor Kirkpatrick. Also, music has been a part of the church over the years. Men, women, boys and girls presented their gifts to the Lord through singing and the playing of instruments. There were cantatas at Christmas and Easter and special numbers. This was the home church of the very musical Weber family. Currently the worship team consists of a piano, bass guitar, flute, violin and harmonica, along with singers.
Since the very beginning the work in Terre Hill has been done by the wonderful men and women of God that He has brought to the church. Since for many years the church was on a circuit, it needed lay leadership to preach and teach. One of the early delegates was Samuel Frey, who would become the pastor in 1882. Abner Clime, the pastor in 1879, was the delegate of the church in 1885 and was called to preach the Saturday night message at Annual Conference. He was followed by Peter Folz who was one of the class leaders. Another early member of the church was Isaac Artz, whom God called to preach, but he left the denomination and attended another one before he did very much that is recorded in Conference Journals. In 1901, the name of Eli W. Martin appears with a recommendation that he receive a license from Annual Conference. He was a class leader within the church until 1952. Each report contained a report of the joy of the work of the Lord. Beginning in 1915, the Conference began listing the delegate of the congregation instead of the pastor in the record. Beginning in that year, the name of G. K. Himmelreich appears. Although Brother Himmelreich was from the Blandon church, he served as the delegate for the circuit until 1943 when he passed way. The Gospel Banner from that year stated that he served as Conference delegate for 43 straight years.
During these years that a couple of prominent families began to shape the Terre Hill church. The first was a farm family who always sat in the second pew from the front on the right hand side. It was the Weber family. Among the family were future delegates Jacob, Paul and Clayton (who served at the Oley church) and members of the board of trustees. Another brother, Henry, was a class leader for many years. Their widowed father married the widow Good and the family grew. Among the half brothers, was R. Edwin Good. At the time of Pastor Reichenbach’s arrival, these three men made up the Board of Trustees. Pastors Reichenbach and Smock recount a tale of being in Trustees’ meetings (years apart) when the brothers started talking back and forth in Pennsylvania Dutch, which neither could understand, and asking them to speak in English so that the pastor could understand. One of the brothers reportedly said, “When we want you to understand, we will speak in English.” This family is, of course, famous for its appearance in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest continuous singing group. The brothers, with their sister, performed together for over 75 years. Many of those years were in the Terre Hill church.
About that time, there was a young man named Paul Wolf who met a girl named Alice whom he married in 1921, when she was 17 years old. Alice joined the church at that time. She tells of the sermons that were preached at that time of how women should have two layers of clothing on their arms in church in order to be modestly attired. Alice and Paul had four children, among whom was an elder Harlan and the secretary of the woman’s missionary society, Grace. Over the years, Alice was a children’s worker in both toddlers and nursery. She led numerous children to Christ over the years. Alice is still alive and living in a local nursing home at the age of 101! Thanks to her sharp mind, I have some of the stories recorded here. I believe that she has the honor of having the longest continuous membership in one Bible Fellowship Church. I am sure that there may be some still alive who joined our fellowship prior to 1921, but they may have switched churches since then.
Another family that is prominent, especially in recent church history is the Betsker family. Russell and Katherine Betsker had 6 daughters. Among them are the wives of one of the current deacons, our current Sunday School Superintendent and former delegate, one of our current elders and former delegate as well as the wife of the former chairman of the deacon board. One of the sisters is also the mother of one of our current deacons. The sisters who currently attend the church are very active in children’s ministry. The last family that comes to the forefront of the current ministry is the Faust family. Although John, who has served as an elder, and his wife Anita, had only three daughters, their husbands represent almost one half of the current church leadership (two elders and a deacon).
Over the years Terre Hill has been the home of numerous wonderful families whom God has called on to other areas of ministry. In 1968, God moved quite a number of strong families and began one of our larger Bible Fellowship Churches. God put the vision on the heart of Pastor Smock in the early 60's to look at planting a church in Ephrata. With the blessing of the church, 40 plus congregants left the Terre Hill church to begin that work. It is interesting how now the daughter is much larger than the mother. But, Ephrata is a much larger community (the largest Borough as compared to Terre Hill, which is the smallest). Because of the vision of the lay people within the church, God has taken the Gospel over the world. As previously mentioned, it was out of this church that God called Keith and Carol Anderson and their family, first to Ecuador, and eventually to Texas, to assist in training pastors and Christian workers in the Spanish language in order that His Word may reach to the end of the earth. God continues to use the families of the Terre Hill church to spread the Gospel.
As the pastor of this great group of people, I must say that I am truly honored to be their pastor. They are an extremely loving, caring and giving group. When I first arrived the old part of the church looked like the local Goodwill, full of furniture and clothing. There had been a fire in the apartment building two doors down from the church three days before I preached my first candidating sermon. They were the place were the community dropped off things for the needy families. They had been without a senior pastor for 16 months and were dying for a leader to shepherd them. Since I had never been a pastor prior to coming to the church, some of the congregation was a little leery, but just before my arrival, God allowed Pastor Smock to come and preach and let them know a bit more about me. After Pastor Smock’s recommendation, there was no way that I would not get hired.
I have often shared with those around that the Terre Hill church is much like a rocket ship sitting on the launch pad somewhere during the countdown. I am not sure where we are in the countdown, but one day soon, we will, Lord willing, hit zero and then we will begin to grow very fast again. God has blessed the church recently with a few new young couple who are Lancaster Bible College graduates. Those who have been here for a while have a thirst for the Word and to serve God. In the future, we would like to see a gymnasium built in order to be able to reach the teens and children of our community at an even deeper level. It was reported in the last few years that many of our local teens are struggling with drug and alcohol abuse. We would like to give them a reason for living, Jesus Christ. We are currently involved with the other churches in town with a Kid’s Praise Club that is designed to bring out unchurched children to the local community center for one hour of Bible instruction each week and introduce them to Jesus Christ. We pray that through this outreach, boys and girls will receive Christ as Savior, (three of them made decisions this past week) and then go home and tell mom and dad and this will get them interested in attending church.
Even though Berean Bible Fellowship is actually older that the town it calls home and in its third different century of ministry, it is a vibrant church ready to reach the lost in the 21st century. It began in a stable, much like our Lord; was, and continues to be, bathed in prayer, with an eye on the lost and dying world around it. The Lord has truly done a mighty thing through this band of believers in this small town.
Church Bulletin, Berean Bible Fellowship Church in Terre Hill, PA March 31, 1974.
Conference Journals, www.bfchistory.org numerous dates.
Congregational Meeting Minutes, Berean Bible Fellowship Church (Mennonite Brethren in Christ), Terre Hill, PA, various dates.
Gospel Banner - November 25, 1943 - page 634 (14)
Taylor, Richard E., ed. Verhandlungen, Historical Committee of the Bible Fellowship Church, Coopersburg, PA 1989.
Addendum - Remps
The name Remps shows as a pastoral appointment in the Terre Hill Circuit for the years 1887 - 1908. A number have questioned where this place is located. In this addendum to the Pastor Kirkpatrick’s paper on Terre, some of the questions will be answered.
First, it is not certain that Remps is the name of a town or a village. It shows on no map and even internet searches do not bring up a place by that name. It is possible that for locals the area became known as Remps since several families by that name lived nearby. I have found references to a Remps School. So, how does it happen that a preaching station was designated Remps?
We can state with some assurance that whatever it is we call Remps was located at the village known as Knauers or as the Berks County atlas of 1874 shows, Knauer’s Post Office, in Brecknock Township, Berks County. A couple of references from the Terre Hill / Remps minute book establish this fact. The March 18, 1902, Quarterly Conference is introduced by these words, “The second quarterly conference of the Mennonite Brethren in Christ of Terre Hill, Lancaster County and of Remp’s of Knauers, Berks County.” That there was a church building is established in the next meeting the minutes of which began, “Third Quarterly conference of the Mennonite Brethren in Christ Denomination convened on May 17th 1902 at Remps Church in Brecknock township, Berks County.” Brecknock Township is in the southwest of Berks County and is bordered on the west by Lancaster County. As the crow flies, it is about 6.5 miles from Terre Hill, a distance which allows for the sharing of a preacher.
The Remps Church apparently never took and struggled until its demise in 1908. It was always on a circuit with the Terre Hill Church.
The original members of the church in 1888 were Samuel Remp, Adam and Mary Weitzel, Henry and Emma Messner, Richard Remp, Nelson and Ellen Kohl, and Albert and Lydia Matz. It is noted that the Weitzels and Matz’s left. In 1889, the members were Samuel Ramp, Richard Ramp, Nelson and Ellen Cole, Henry and Emma Messner, and Emma Glassmoyer. No wives are listed for either Samuel or Richard Remp which suggests that they were not married.
Through out the years, the recognized leaders were Samuel Remp and Nelson Kohl. In an interesting detail, the census record for 1910 shows Samuel Remp living in the home of Nelson and Ellen Kohl. In later years, the name of Charles Boyer shows as a leader.
The Quarterly Conference minutes available to us (1888 to 1902) reveal that Remps was always struggling. The leaders were regularly absent from the meetings at Terre Hill. At the April 9, 1892, the minutes recorded, “Pre. Eld. and Bro. Musselman shall remind class leader and Steward of Remp’s Church of their duties concerning conference, and they shall give an account of their absence at next quarterly conference.” In November, 1897, after several warnings, the axe fell. “5. Whereas the Officers of Remps Class have not reported for the past year, therefore
Resolved: that we drop the appointment.” Remps continued to receive an appointment but is not listed in the quarterly conference minutes until 1900 when they were back again. In 1908, they did not receive a pastor and faded from the records.
Their statistical reports indicate that they never grew to a viable size. In 1902, their Sunday School enrollment was 25 with an average attendance of 18. By way of comparison, Terre Hill’s enrollment was 170 with an average attendance of 114. By 1904, the enrollment had shrunk to 14 with an average attendance of 13. The 1905 Statistical Report indicates 7 members, 7 pastoral visits, and 6 sermons preached. By 1907, all that was recorded is that they had 6 members.