The United Church of Schellsburg  United Church of Christ
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              We are a church welcoming everyone as they are.
   Together we grow a just and peaceful world.
© 2016 The United Church of Schellsburg UCC  All rights reserved.

The Little Church That Does:  

How Four Small Churches Imagined the Impossible and

Made it Happen

The United Church of Schellsburg UCC was born in 1806 when town founder John Schell deeded land for a church building, now called the Old Log Church, to house a Reformed congregation and a Lutheran congregation. Within 40 years, a Presbyterian church and a Methodist church had also been established in Schellsburg to suit the worshipping needs of the growing settlement and surrounding area. The four churches in town each belonged to a multi-parish charge within its own denomination. Worship services led by the charge pastor were held in town no more frequently than every other week and at some points, every three weeks. Each church held education and mission programming every week, however, led by lay people from the congregation. During the Great Depression, and in the 1940’s as church attendance began to shrink and old buildings began to deteriorate, St. Matthew’s Lutheran, St. John’s Evangelical and Reformed, Schellsburg Presbyterian, and Hull Memorial Methodist Society, reached out to each other for education programs, worship opportunities, and mission projects. Out of this cooperation emerged a vision to unite the four separate churches as one congregation for worship, education, mission, and fellowship under the tutelage of the National Council of Churches, denominational representatives, and Rev. Daniel Kratz, a United Church of Christ minister who accepted God’s call to bring the vision to fruition. In the fall of 1964, each congregation voted on the proposed merger as well as a denomination with which to affiliate as the new church. The merger passed and the United Church of Christ, the youngest denomination of the four available, was chosen as the home of the new congregation. The service of merger occurred with great fanfare on Sunday, November 22, 1964. We worship now in the St. John’s Evangelical and Reformed UCC Church building; Schellsburg Presbyterian Church and St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church buildings have been converted into private homes. The Methodist building burned in 1945. This event was a milestone not only for Schellsburg and Bedford County but for ecumenical relationships across the country. The merger was featured in several national magazines in the months that followed, including Redbook and Time Magazine. The merger process made us stronger, but we still had growing to do. The story goes that for several years after the formal merger, many people came to church every other week out of habit. And for many years (some say 25, but it was probably only 10 or 15) the sanctuary seemed to be divided into four separate sections, one for each original congregation. During those years, Rev. Don Evans and Rev. Paul Miller served the congregation, building on the unique strengths of four traditions to create a new community that would prove the naysayers wrong. For despite the prophecies of doom from those opposed to the merger and from those who couldn’t see beyond the denominational differences, the United Church of Schellsburg United Church of Christ grew. Membership increased as people found the inclusive nature of the church refreshing. The physical plant grew with the addition of an education wing in 1970, adding classrooms and a Fellowship Hall to the 1851-1852 structure. One pastor in the church’s history also served as program director at nearby Living Waters, the camp and conference center of the Penn West Conference. Rev. Arden Fritz balanced the two in the early 1990s until it became clear that both the church and the camp needed full-time stewardship. Rev. Dr. Merle Correll succeeded Rev. Fritz as the pastor of the United Church of Schellsburg UCC. During Rev. Correll’s tenure, the congregation’s membership grew to its largest number. A men’s group took a mission trip to Biloxi, Mississippi, bringing the needs of areas outside of Bedford County to the forefront. A weekday morning Coffee House became a gathering point for community members. Bequests from two charter members as well as gifts in memory of other charter members served as seed money to renovate the sanctuary in 1998. Central air conditioning, padded pews, and a chancel area that can be completely reconfigured with ease allow for comfort and creativity in worship even today. During this time, the youth group began serving others through such programs as World Vision International’s 30-Hour Famine. 2014 marked the 14th year for this popular event, which for many years ended with a trip to Pizza Hut. For the record, the most pieces of pizza eaten by one youth participant to end the fast is 22. When Rev. Ruth Shaver became our Pastor and Teacher in 2006, the United Church of Schellsburg United Church of Christ had long been the community center in town. In addition to the Coffee House, a TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) group meets here weekly, while the Schellsburg and Old Log Church Historical Society (SOLCHS) meets here in cold weather months when it would not be wise to meet at the unheated Old Log Church. At least when it was in use, people had hot boxes before the congregation put in the old potbellied stove (long since removed for safety reasons!). When the SOLCHS holds its annual tours – Christmas Home Tours in even years, Halloween Ghost Tours in odd years – we host the refreshments and provide public facilities. We are the charter organization for Boy Scout Troop 4490, including Cub Scout Pack 4490. Our unique history has shaped a congregation that is open to the leading of the Holy Spirit in worship and mission. Sacred dance became part of our worship tradition in 2003. Sacred Motion shares their ministry throughout the Penn West Conference and with the wider church, fulfilling our call to praise God’s name with dancing (Psalm 149:3). Time and understanding have melded music styles together in our worship. In any given month, we have classical, jazz, bluegrass, country, hard rock, and everything in between as special music from our corps of talented musicians. Our Prayer Shawl ministry began in 2006 and has become one of our strongest outreach missions. Shawls have gone from Schellsburg to people of all ages all over the world, including to military personnel deployed in war zones and to families grieving the loss of a service member. Members of our group have helped to start groups at several other churches, as well; we were featured in the Spring 2009 issue of Common Lot, the United Church of Christ publication for women’s ministries, along with one of our “daughter” groups. Two of our best fellowship opportunities also serve as fund raisers for mission and ministry. The annual candy making adventures have been memorialized in song; we hosted our 8th Annual Chili Cookoff in 2014 and are looking forward to the 9th Annual event already…and we are the Original Bedford County Chili Cookoff! The most important things that our story—our history—have given us are open arms and a big heart. We aren’t perfect, but this is truly a place where you can come as you are to be in fellowship with others who are learning to be who God has called them to be. We strive to include everyone in the life of the church in all aspects of hospitality, welcoming members and friends to join us. In worship leadership as musicians and dancers, as speakers and readers, in mission as we work to make a difference at home and far away. Living and loving, learning and growing together in Christ, we stand strong because of a vision of unity that could not be clouded. Because earlier generations believed. Because we still believe. Thanks be to God!
Pastors The Rev. Daniel G. Kratz, 1964-1971 Founding Pastor The Rev. Donald R. Evans, 1973-1979 The Rev. Paul E. Miller, 1980-1990 The Rev. Arden C. Fritz, 1991-1995 The Rev. Dr. Merle D. Correll, 1995- 2005 The Rev. Ruth E. Shaver, 2006-2016

History

HISTORY
The United Church of Schellsburg United Church of Christ
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We are a church  welcoming everyone as they are.
Together we grow a just and peaceful world.
© 2016 The United Church of Schellsburg UCC. All rights reserved.

The Little Church That Does:  

How Four Small Churches

Imagined the Impossible and

Made it Happen

The United Church of Schellsburg UCC was born in 1806 when town founder John Schell deeded land for a church building, now called the Old Log Church, to house a Reformed congregation and a Lutheran congregation. Within 40 years, a Presbyterian church and a Methodist church had also been established in Schellsburg to suit the worshipping needs of the growing settlement and surrounding area. The four churches in town each belonged to a multi-parish charge within its own denomination. Worship services led by the charge pastor were held in town no more frequently than every other week and at some points, every three weeks. Each church held education and mission programming every week, however, led by lay people from the congregation. During the Great Depression, and in the 1940’s as church attendance began to shrink and old buildings began to deteriorate, St. Matthew’s Lutheran, St. John’s Evangelical and Reformed, Schellsburg Presbyterian, and Hull Memorial Methodist Society, reached out to each other for education programs, worship opportunities, and mission projects. Out of this cooperation emerged a vision to unite the four separate churches as one congregation for worship, education, mission, and fellowship under the tutelage of the National Council of Churches, denominational representatives, and Rev. Daniel Kratz, a United Church of Christ minister who accepted God’s call to bring the vision to fruition. In the fall of 1964, each congregation voted on the proposed merger as well as a denomination with which to affiliate as the new church. The merger passed and the United Church of Christ, the youngest denomination of the four available, was chosen as the home of the new congregation. The service of merger occurred with great fanfare on Sunday, November 22, 1964. We worship now in the St. John’s Evangelical and Reformed UCC Church building; Schellsburg Presbyterian Church and St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church buildings have been converted into private homes. The Methodist building burned in 1945. This event was a milestone not only for Schellsburg and Bedford County but for ecumenical relationships across the country. The merger was featured in several national magazines in the months that followed, including Redbook and Time Magazine. The merger process made us stronger, but we still had growing to do. The story goes that for several years after the formal merger, many people came to church every other week out of habit. And for many years (some say 25, but it was probably only 10 or 15) the sanctuary seemed to be divided into four separate sections, one for each original congregation. During those years, Rev. Don Evans and Rev. Paul Miller served the congregation, building on the unique strengths of four traditions to create a new community that would prove the naysayers wrong. For despite the prophecies of doom from those opposed to the merger and from those who couldn’t see beyond the denominational differences, the United Church of Schellsburg United Church of Christ grew. Membership increased as people found the inclusive nature of the church refreshing. The physical plant grew with the addition of an education wing in 1970, adding classrooms and a Fellowship Hall to the 1851-1852 structure. One pastor in the church’s history also served as program director at nearby Living Waters, the camp and conference center of the Penn West Conference. Rev. Arden Fritz balanced the two in the early 1990s until it became clear that both the church and the camp needed full-time stewardship. Rev. Dr. Merle Correll succeeded Rev. Fritz as the pastor of the United Church of Schellsburg UCC. During Rev. Correll’s tenure, the congregation’s membership grew to its largest number. A men’s group took a mission trip to Biloxi, Mississippi, bringing the needs of areas outside of Bedford County to the forefront. A weekday morning Coffee House became a gathering point for community members. Bequests from two charter members as well as gifts in memory of other charter members served as seed money to renovate the sanctuary in 1998. Central air conditioning, padded pews, and a chancel area that can be completely reconfigured with ease allow for comfort and creativity in worship even today. During this time, the youth group began serving others through such programs as World Vision International’s 30-Hour Famine. 2014 marked the 14th year for this popular event, which for many years ended with a trip to Pizza Hut. For the record, the most pieces of pizza eaten by one youth participant to end the fast is 22. When Rev. Ruth Shaver became our Pastor and Teacher in 2006, the United Church of Schellsburg United Church of Christ had long been the community center in town. In addition to the Coffee House, a TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) group meets here weekly, while the Schellsburg and Old Log Church Historical Society (SOLCHS) meets here in cold weather months when it would not be wise to meet at the unheated Old Log Church. At least when it was in use, people had hot boxes before the congregation put in the old potbellied stove (long since removed for safety reasons!). When the SOLCHS holds its annual tours – Christmas Home Tours in even years, Halloween Ghost Tours in odd years – we host the refreshments and provide public facilities. We are the charter organization for Boy Scout Troop 4490, including Cub Scout Pack 4490. Our unique history has shaped a congregation that is open to the leading of the Holy Spirit in worship and mission. Sacred dance became part of our worship tradition in 2003. Sacred Motion shares their ministry throughout the Penn West Conference and with the wider church, fulfilling our call to praise God’s name with dancing (Psalm 149:3). Time and understanding have melded music styles together in our worship. In any given month, we have classical, jazz, bluegrass, country, hard rock, and everything in between as special music from our corps of talented musicians. Our Prayer Shawl ministry began in 2006 and has become one of our strongest outreach missions. Shawls have gone from Schellsburg to people of all ages all over the world, including to military personnel deployed in war zones and to families grieving the loss of a service member. Members of our group have helped to start groups at several other churches, as well; we were featured in the Spring 2009 issue of Common Lot, the United Church of Christ publication for women’s ministries, along with one of our “daughter” groups. Two of our best fellowship opportunities also serve as fund raisers for mission and ministry. The annual candy making adventures have been memorialized in song; we hosted our 8th Annual Chili Cookoff in 2014 and are looking forward to the 9th Annual event already…and we are the Original Bedford County Chili Cookoff! The most important things that our story—our history—have given us are open arms and a big heart. We aren’t perfect, but this is truly a place where you can come as you are to be in fellowship with others who are learning to be who God has called them to be. We strive to include everyone in the life of the church in all aspects of hospitality, welcoming members and friends to join us. In worship leadership as musicians and dancers, as speakers and readers, in mission as we work to make a difference at home and far away. Living and loving, learning and growing together in Christ, we stand strong because of a vision of unity that could not be clouded. Because earlier generations believed. Because we still believe. Thanks be to God!
Pastors The Rev. Daniel G. Kratz, 1964-1971 Founding Pastor The Rev. Donald R. Evans, 1973-1979 The Rev. Paul E. Miller, 1980-1990 The Rev. Arden C. Fritz, 1991-1995 The Rev. Dr. Merle D. Correll, 1995- 2005 The Rev. Ruth E. Shaver, 2006-2016