An Historical Treasure

 

Port7As early as 1699 or 1700, German settlers came to Pennsylvania and established a German Reformed congregation at the Goshenhoppen. It has not been found just when York County German Reformed people started a congregation, but it has been suggested this was about 1729.

In 1741, Baltzer Spangler, along with Ulrich Whistler, was the chain-bearer for Thomas Cookson when he laid out Yorktown for the Penn family.  Spangler was one of the founders of our First Reformed Church.  The Penn family gave us lot 91, where we built our first church in 1742 which was made of logs.

Traveling Reformed ministers conducted services at established areas in the county, and it is assumed that in this way the Yorktown congregation was first served.  On May 14, 1745, Jacob Lischy accepted our call and became pastor.

John Conrad Wirtz was our second pastor.  In 1763 the log church was torn down, and a new church was built, but before it was completed Pastor Wirtz died.  William Otterbein was our third pastor, serving from 1765-1774.

The Rev. John Daniel Wagner became our next pastor, serving while the Continental Congress met in Yorktown.  He was an active participant in events in York during the Revolutionary War.  The Continental congress met with our congregation to celebrate the first Thanksgiving Day.  Rev. Wagner performed the burial service for Philip Livingston, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

The First Reformed Church building was destroyed by fire in 1797.  A replacement church was built in 1799.

Near the middle of the 19th Century problems arose between the German-speaking members and those that preferred their services in English.  The congregation finally split.  The German-speaking group got the church property and the English-speaking part retained the corporate title, the church records and the cemetery.  The congregation was then chartered as Trinity Reformed Church of York.  We erected our present church building two lots east of our former building.

In 1957 we became known as Trinity United Church of Christ.

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(Contributed by Ann Cordes)  

 Photo’s from the Time Capsule and of the Celebration on August 9, 2015

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