present location dedication
Memorial Church of the Holy Cross United Methodist
The 170th Anniversary. 1992
Holy Cross Anniversary Committee, 1989-1992
Mr. and Mrs. Robert Phillips (Claire), Chairpersons
Mrs. Elizabeth Rasbridge, Secretary
Mr. Jordan Bausher
Mrs. Lisa Mochan
Mrs. Jean Crow
*Mr. Richard Moyer
Mrs. Judith Davis
Mr. Donald Ollendorf
Mrs. Naomi DeTurk
Mrs. Catherine Stott
Mr. Gary Gamme11
Mr. James Stoudt
Mrs. Laura Gildersleeve
Mrs. Ruth Wilcox
Mr. Henry Hershey
Mr. John Williams
Mr. George Lindemuth
Dr. Francis Williamson
The Rev. Arthur L. Rattew, Pastor
*deceased, December 1990
The Anniversary Committee sincerely appreciates and thanks
Mrs. Arlene Clouser for typing this booklet, Miss Shirley
Zerbe for her assistance and office expertise, and everyone
who has contributed to this collection in any way.
EBENEZER TO MEMORIAL: THE FIRST SEVENTY YEARS
By Claire Phillips
In 1822, James Monroe was President of the United States. Our young nation
had won its independence from England only forty-one years earlier, and had
recently concluded the Treaty of Ghent, which formally ended its second war with
Great Britain, the War of 1812. Pennsylvania was a thriving state, Philadelphia
was the most populous American city, and Reading was a flourishing town
containing more than ten thousand inhabitants. In this year, two young men,
Emmor Kimber and his cousin Samuel Pettit, Methodists from Lancaster and stone
masons by trade, came to Reading where they found employment building locks on
the Schuylkill Canal. They became Reading’s first resident Methodists and they
taught and conducted prayer services at every opportunity.
Reading was not an unchurched community. A Friends Meeting House, a one story
log house, had been in use in Reading since 1766. The German Reformed had
constructed a log house in 1753, the Lutherans had built a church in 1751, and a
Catholic church had been erected in 1791.
In 1766, the first Methodist Society had been established in New York City by
Irish immigrants under the leadership of Philip Embury. An organized body of
Methodism was begun in Philadelphia in 1769 with the founding of Old Saint
George’s Church. The Reverend Joseph Pilmoor, a Methodist missionary sent to
America by John Wesley, had preached in Reading in 1772. He left Philadelphia on
Tuesday, May 26, 1772, and arrived in Reading the following day. He noted in his
diary that “in the evening we had most of the genteel people in the town at the
Court House, and God enabled me to preach the gospel, not in word only, but also
in power … and we were abundantly blessed while we concluded the day in praise
By 1773, a Methodist congregation was meeting in a log cabin in Geigertown,
southern Berks County, with congregational members posted as sentries during
services to guard against Indian attacks.
Methodism was spreading westward as well as throughout the original states
of America, but, somehow, a deep-rooted prejudice against the Methodists had
grown in Reading during the late 1700s and continued for some years into the
1800s. In 1803, the Reverends Jacob Gruber and Henry Boehm were assigned to the
Dauphin circuit. Mr. Boehm arranged to preach at the Court House in Reading,
but the Commissioners refused to open the doors for the people who had
assembled there. In 1808, Reverend Boehm again passed through Reading, this
time with Bishop Asbury. “The boys laughed at us and said ‘there go the
Methodist preachers,'” Mr. Boehm noted. He explained that “they knew us by our
garb and perhaps thought it no harm to ridicule us.”
Mr. Kimber wrote of his arrival (with Mr. Pettit) in Reading in 1822:
“There was no Methodist society in Reading and the opposition against
people of this religious faith was so strong that regularly ordained ministers
of the church were not able to hold services.
“We, who adhered to Methodism, were called believers of false
prophets, storblers, and the like. But being just plain mechanics, they
thought we could not make any headway, so we were not driven out, although we
were subject to persecution.
“Our first meetings were in a log house of one room. Then we rented a
schoolhouse which was seated (had benches) and in which we taught school in
That schoolhouse, at the rear of 38 South Fifth Street, was probably built
by neighborhood families, who then hired a school master to teach their
children. There were no public schools in those days. The schoolhouse was a
three story brick building with one room on each floor. The first floor was the
school room, and the second and third story rooms served as living quarters for
the school teacher. A wood burning stove in the first floor room provided the
only heat. The building stood on property now owned by the Eways family. It was
recently torn down because of its deteriorated condition.
Kimber and Pettit next bought a brick house at 133 South Third Street, a
house about thirty feet square. They tore out the indoor partitions and seated
it. As Mr. Kimber noted, the two cousins “were bishop, presiding elder and
preacher in charge – for a time.”
They then invited preachers. Among these were Henry Boehm and Jacob
Gruber, who were then on the Lancaster circuit, and the Reverend Boehm noted
“I succeeded in planting Methodism in Reading and formed the first
class there, when I had been shut out a score of years before.”
The “class” or worshipping group Boehm wrote about was organized on
September 24, 1822, at the meeting hall on the second floor of the old State
House, situated on Fifth Street just north of Penn. (The State House was
destroyed by fire in 1872.)
Years later, Reverend Boehm related the following incident:
“At Reading, there was a mechanics shop in the neighborhood of the
schoolhouse where some men used to meet regularly, idly amusing themselves.
(This was near Fifth and Cherry Streets.)
“One of that company, a rather young man, undertook to mimic the
Methodists. He went on to show how they acted during their meetings. He
shouted, clapped his hands, and then would show how they fell down. He then
threw himself down on the floor and lay there as if asleep.
“His companions enjoyed the sport, but after he had lain there for
some time, they wondered why he didn’t get up. They shook him in order to
awake him. when they saw he did not breathe, they turned pale and sent for a
physician who examined the man and pronounced him dead.
“This awful event did two things for us. It stopped ridicule and
persecution. Also it gave us favor in the sight of people. They believed that
God was for us. Little do the present Methodists of Reading know of our early
struggles and difficulties.”
The cousins Kimber and Pettit remained in Reading for several years. Mr.
Kimber was licensed to preach. When they left Reading they deeded the little
house on Third Street, which cost about $575, to the Methodist Church. It was
called Ebenezer Methodist Episcopal Church, and it was the Reading Methodist’s
house of worship until 1839, when a “regular house of worship” was built at 39
South Fourth Street. (This would have been on the east side of South Fourth
Street below Cherry Street, the present location of a city parking garage.) The
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania granted a charter to Ebenezer Church in 1840. The
church building was remodeled and enlarged in 1870 and again in 1884, when a
large pipe organ was installed. There were 400 members of Ebenezer Church at
Two additional Methodist churches had already developed from Ebenezer
Church. In 1843, due to a lack of meeting space at Ebenezer, a Sunday School
class began meeting in the Odd Fellows Hall (now the location of the Reading
Public Library). That class founded the St. Peter’s Methodist Episcopal Church
in 1848. St. Peter’s was in existence until 1972, and was located at South
Fifth and Pine Streets. In 1868, a member of Ebenezer made “a covenant with the
Lord to build a House of Worship”, donated a lot he owned at Ninth and Elm
Streets, and the following year the Covenant Memorial Methodist Church was
Ebenezer Church continued to flourish. Before a prospective member could
join the church, he became a probationer for a period of six months. Before
he could become a probationer, he had to attend a Sunday School class for
several sessions and be recommended by a class member. These and other
requirements did not discourage new memberships.
Even after the extensive remodeling completed in 1884, the large numbers of
members could not find adequate space in the Ebenezer building. By 1886, a
group of members who called themselves the Missionary Sunday School began
meeting in a building at Church and Oley Streets. There were ninety-one members
in that class, and it was attracting families of other denominations and some
with no church ties at all. The Missionary School wrote to the Quarterly
Conference about the need for a permanent meeting place, and the matter was
referred to Ebenezer Church for further action.
The idea of a new church edifice probably came from Aaron Wilhelm, a
trustee, steward, and former Sunday School Superintendent at Ebenezer. Also
advancing the idea of a new church edifice was Walter S. Davis, the brother–
in-law of Aaron Wilhelm. Davis was also a trustee and Sunday School Super-
intendent. These two men along with the pastor, the Reverend Dr. William J.
Stevenson, began meeting with a group of Ebenezer members to discuss the idea
of building a new church.
Finally, at a congregational meeting on July 1, 1889, it was decided that
the Trustees would be authorized to sell the Ebenezer Church building “with
all appurtenances and appointments” for the sum not less than $7500 to those
members of the church who desired to continue worshipping in that building. The
proceeds from the sale were to be applied toward the erection of a new and more
desirably located Church and Sunday School building.
Within one year, a North Fifth Street site was chosen for the new church, a
Philadelphia architect, Thomas P. Lonsdale, was selected (from among forty bids
submitted) to design the building, and a contract for construction was awarded
to Josiah S. Koch.
Although the idea of a new church and much of the planning for its struc-
ture originated with Aaron Wilhelm, he did not live to see its construction.
He died in May of 1889, the year before building was begun.
The new church would have a new name, although it was still legally the
Ebenezer Church. A majority of the Trustees and the congregation were in favor
of the new building project, so a new charter was not needed. A resolution was
adopted naming the church “The Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church.” The phrase,
“Thy Memorial, 0 Lord” was included on the church front. (The present name, The
Memorial Church of the Holy Cross, was adopted by the Board of Trustees in
On July 7, 1890, ground was broken and construction was underway. The
cornerstone for the new building was laid on April 26, 1891 by the Reverend W.
J. Stevenson, D.O., the Reverend Bishop C. D. Foss, D.O., LL.D., the Reverend J.
Richards Boyle, D.O., and the Honorable R. E. Pattison, then Governor of
Pennsylvania. Services were held at the site in the morning and at the Rajah
Theatre in the evening.
There was a small group of Ebenezer members who wished to remain at the
South Fourth Street location. The Reverend S. W. Thomas, the District
Superintendent, arranged for the sale to him of the Fourth Street building
“for the purpose of organizing a new Methodist Episcopal Church and congrega-
tion to worship therein.” The people who remained there then incorporated into
a separate body called Peoples’ Church. That church remained until the 1930s
when it merged with Grace Methodist Church and the Peoples’ Church was closed.
While construction of the Memorial Church progressed, the old St. Matthew’s
Lutheran Church was rented for ten dollars a month (including light and heat)
and was used to conduct worship services and hold Sunday School.
The Property Committee also leased the home of Walter S. Davis at 329 North
Fifth Street to use as a parsonage. The Board of Trustees soon purchased the
Davis property. Church member A. Harvey Tyson offered to remodel the parsonage
for $1000 to be applied to his next year’s subscription. The basement was
remodeled, the kitchen and dining room enlarged, a back porch added, bay
windows put on the north side, the bathroom and entire second floor remodeled,
all the new rooms papered, and the back of the building raised to the highest
of the three stories.
The new church’s architecture included a massive tower designed in a
revolutionary style. It rested on four “legs”, not on a solid base. During
construction, in February 1892, the tower collapsed. At first, defective
stones were thought to be the cause of the fall of the tower. The possibility
of faulty workmanship was considered. Whatever the reason, the tower’s collapse
caused much consternation as well as a delay in the construction schedule.
Finally, in June, at the decision of the architect, the tower was taken down
and rebuilding begun.
By the end of summer the chapel was almost completed. The present Sunday
School auditorium was the chapel dedicated in 1892. The present Greer Memorial
Chapel area was originally a ladies’ parlor and a Sunday School room used as
the Infants’ Department.
The year 1892 was the four hundredth anniversary of the discovery of America
by Christopher Columbus. The World’s Columbian Exposition (the Chicago World’s
Fair of 1892) commemorated the progress of our nation in art, industry and
agriculture. Memorial Church also held a “Columbian Festival” in the
Entertainment Hall (church basement) on November 14 through November 19. A
printed catalogue from that festival listed one hundred forty-four paintings
and statuary on display. Visitors were requested “not to touch or handle the
pictures, statuary, etc., and are cautioned against pointing with canes or
umbrellas.” A further program note announced that “the chapel in connection
with the above (Memorial) edifice will be opened for service Sunday, November
The chapel was dedicated by Dr. Stevenson on November 20th with little
ceremony. There was still much to be done to prepare for the opening of the
complete church building.
The appointment of a new pastor was a great concern. Dr. Stevenson had been
at Ebenezer-Memorial for five years. Because the Methodist Church had a rule
that ministers could not serve more than five years with one congregation, he
would have to leave. “Dr. Stevie”, as he was affectionately called, was loved
and respected, and many people were upset at the thought of losing him.
Finally, however, the Reverend I. M. Foster, D.D., was chosen as Dr.
In February 1893, Walter Davis obtained a British organist, Dr. Stocks
Hammond, a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists, to serve as organist-
director for the new church.
Other concerns had to be addressed as the church opening grew near. A
mortgage of $40,000 was arranged so the contractor could be paid, a committee
was appointed to raise funds for the new music department, and a search for a
house for the sexton was begun.
Sunday, October 1, 1893, was chosen as the date for the dedication of the
completed building. As worshippers neared the church that Sunday, their
attention was drawn by the sounds of music coming from above. Four trumpeters,
playing from the church tower, heralded the dedication service to the
congregation and the community.
The church was dedicated by the Reverend Bishop John P. Newman, assisted by
Dr. Foster and Dr. Stevenson and three additional Reverend Doctors of the
Methodist Episcopal Church. Ebenezer, now Memorial Church, was seventy-one
The new church was constructed of Michigan red stone and crystalline marble.
Classified as Romanesque in design, it also incorporated Gothic and baroque
features. Aaron Wilhelm and Dr. Stevenson had traveled to Europe sometime in the
1880s. When they returned to Reading, enthused by the beauty of the architecture
they had seen in the churches, monasteries and other grand buildings of Europe,
they persuaded the building committee to include some of those features in the
design for the new edifice.
A lengthy front page article in the February 20, 1890 edition of the Reading
Telegram (which can be read at the Berks County Historical Society) told of the
proposed building, calling the new Methodist Episcopal Church “A Magnificent
Structure Embodying the Latest Thought in Modern Architecture” and offering a
detailed description of the building and materials to be used in the new
The “audience room” (sanctuary) was planned to seat eight hundred people and
featured an octagon formed amphitheatre on a sloping disc floor. The lower ten
feet of each wall was finished with mottled buff brick in lieu of wainscoting.
In each angle of the octagon, exposed antique oak timber rafters were projected
from a stone column. The joining of the rafters was made effective by the
outstretched wings and heads of angels carved in relief. A central rotunda
received the eight rafters at its base and formed an arcaded rim. Four wrought
iron and silver electroliers were suspended from the rim for light distribution
and a decorative effect. (There were also gas lights throughout the building.
These were removed in 1927.) A large stained glass window was centered on each
wall of the sanctuary.
Four pews spanned the area in front of the altar, making the center aisle a
blind aisle. (This was changed in 1901, so that a way was opened directly to
the altar.) There was a pulpit platform with a lectern on the right and a
baptismal font on the left, with the choir loft above and to the rear of the
altar. The organ, presented by the Wilhelm family, was built on either side of
the north window. There was a raised dais from which solo and divisional choir
work was rendered.
To the immediate right of the dais was a carved stone fireplace bearing the
inscription, “While I was musing, the fire burned.” Charles Wilhelm, Aaron
Wilhelm’s son, is said to have suggested the inscription, taken from Psalm
The Sunday School area of the first floor included the chapel or main
meeting area, the ladies’ parlor, primary department, library with reading
room, the Official Board room, radiating class rooms, and lavatories. The
balcony floor contained additional classrooms and a large assembly room for
the Young Peoples’ Society. The Adult Sunday School could accommodate eight
hundred people and the youth area was planned for three hundred-fifty.
The ground floor (basement) was the Entertainment Hall and contained the
dining and kitchen area. The Entertainment Hall and dining room was planned
to hold one thousand people. (In 1901, the lower level of the basement was
finished with hard wood and equipped with horizontal bars, a trapeze, rowing
machines and showers. Basketball games were played there for many years.)
The church was entered from Fifth Street by walking through the open groined
columns-supported tower and along the mosaic-paved arcaded cloister, one hundred
feet in length, which opened into the auditorium (sanctuary) and Sunday School
area. The church could also be entered through the octagonal vestibule on the
northwest corner of the building. The vestibule had a stairway to the basement.
Therefore, from this one entrance there was access to the closed arched
colonnade along the front of the building, the sanctuary, the choir reception
room and Entertainment Hall.
Outside, jutting from the vestibule walls, five sandstone faces appear.
The corner or center face is mustached. Two woman-like faces are located on
each side. No one knows the identities of the faces, but there is conjecture
that the male face may have been a self-portrait of the artist who created the
stonework figures. Other carved stone designs, including a gargoyle resembling
a flying dragon, attract interest to the exterior walls.
The church roof was covered with a Spanish pattern unglazed red tile,
sloping upward from each of the eight sides to the central rotunda. The
rotunda covering and spouting was of cold-rolled copper.
One month after the new church was dedicated, the choir appeared at the
worship service wearing choir robes and mortar board hats. This was the first
vested choir in the Methodist Episcopal Church. Later, Memorial became one of
the first, if not the first, American Methodist churches to have a gowned
minister. When the Reverend Bishop Berry visited Memorial and saw the pastor in
a robe he remarked, “This is the only church in Methodism where they dress
their ministers up like a mother and call him Father.”
In its lifetime of little more than three score years and ten since the
cousins Kimber and Pettit first gathered with their small group of believers in
a little log house, the people who became the Ebenezer Church had progressed to
a one room schoolhouse, then to a larger “seated” house on South Third Street,
eventually into a “proper” church building on South Fourth Street, and finally
occupied and dedicated its beautiful new edifice on North Fifth Street. Now one
hundred years older, our church still lives. It meets to learn and worship and
serve, and it continues to be “Thy Memorial, 0 Lord.”
By James W. Stoudt
By Act. No. 146 of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on
April 16, 1840, a Charter was granted to the Ebenezer Methodist Episcopal Church
in the Borough of Reading. This was the original Charter for what is now the
Memorial Church of the Holy Cross United Methodist.
The original name in the Charter was “Trustees of the Ebenezer Methodist
Episcopal in the Borough of Reading, County of Berks and Commonwealth of
The officers under the Charter were to consist of a President and nine
Trustees with a Secretary/Treasurer to be chosen from the nine Trustees. The
officers and Trustees were to be chosen from the male members of the society.
(This was before the emancipation of women.)
The original Trustees at the time of the grant of the Charter were Daniel
Rhein, Christian Miller, Henry Goodhart, Jacob Gossler, Andrew S. Gossler,
George Moore, and John Souders.
To be elected a Trustee, one had to have been a church member for at least
eighteen months and be at least twenty-five years old. Only male members were
permitted to vote. The preacher, having pastoral charge of the congregation from
time to time, was by virtue of his office to be the presiding officer of and
President of the Board of Trustees.
The assets of the Church were to be vested in the Trustees with the right on
the part of the Trustees to dispose of any real estate with the approval of two-
thirds of the male members qualified to vote and present at a meeting called by
the President on Sunday morning after worship services. Sale or disposition of
the building occupied for worship on South Fourth Street between Penn and
Franklin Streets in Reading was prohibited by the Trustees. Nothing is said in
the Charter as to how the sale of these premises was to be affected, but I
presume it was by vote of the congregation.
The income from the real and personal property of the Church was to be
applied to the maintenance and repair of Church properties as the Trustees
thought proper and expedient.
The Charter also provided for the election of seven stewards who were to
discharge the duties required of them by the Discipline of the Methodist
The original Charter was first amended on November 28, 1870. The Reverend Mr.
L. A. Fernley was the pastor at the time. Under this amendment, the name was
changed to “Ebenezer Methodist Episcopal Church in the City of Reading.” Under
this restated Charter, the assets of the corporation were not to exceed $10,000
and voting membership was extended to all citizens of Pennsylvania
over twenty-one years, having been members for at least one year. The officers
were to be a President, Secretary, and Treasurer elected from the nine Trustees
who were to be elected by the male voters of the Church. No preacher was
eligible to be a Trustee, nor was any member who had not been a member of the
congregation for eighteen months and was not yet twenty-five years of age. The
Trustees were given power to lease the pews for such rent and on such terms and
conditions as they deemed proper. The amended Charter also provided that no
action of the Trustees or congregation could prevent the minister or preachers
appointed by the Methodist Episcopal Church of the United States from
officiating in the Church or using the Church building for religious purposes
in conformity with the rules and regulations of the General Conference of the
Methodist Episcopal Church of the United States.
The power to make by-laws was vested in the Trustees. This amended charter
is recorded in the Recorder of Deeds Office of Berks County in charter Book
Volume 2, Page 195.
On June 5, 1944, the Charter was again amended. This amendment constitutes
a restatement of the Charter and changes the original Charter and first amended
Charter in several respects. The name was changed at that time to “Memorial
Church of the Holy Cross Methodist.” The purpose was stated as “The support of
the public worship of almighty God according to the doctrine, discipline,
faith, laws, usage, and ministerial appointments of the Methodist Church as
from time to time established, made, and declared by the lawful authority of
the Methodist Church.” An additional collateral purpose was the conducting of a
public burial ground and cemetery. The amended charter provides that the
Directors of the Corporation shall be a nine person Board of Trustees elected
as prescribed in the Discipline of the Methodist Church with the Trustees
having the power to make by-laws for the government of the corporation and
rules and regulations for their own government. Under the new Charter there is
no limitation on the amount of assets which the Church can own. This amendment
is recorded in the Office of the Recorder of Deed of Berks County in Charter
Book Volume 13, Page 555.
The last amendment of the Charter was on April 23, 1969, at which time the
name of the corporation was changed to “Memorial Church of the Holy Cross
United Methodist.” This was the sole purpose of the amendment and this
amendment is recorded in the Office of the Recorder of Deeds of Berks County
in Charter Book Volume 22, Page 976.
By Donald Ollendorf
Sunday, January 26, 1936, was a bitter cold morning. The sexton opened the
church a little earlier than usual so he could stoke up the heating boiler to
insure that the congregation had a comfortably warm building for Sunday school
classes and the worship service.
At 2:45 that afternoon an unknown person called the fire department to say
that the church was on fire. Eventually, twelve of the fourteen Reading fire
companies were required to put out the stubborn fire at the rear (east side)
of the building. One fireman, a George Long of the Hampden Fire Company,
attacking the fire from inside the smoke filled building, died from asphyxia-
The fire destroyed what was the chapel and today is the Sunday school
auditorium. The remainder of the building suffered water and smoke damage. The
present sanctuary (known then as the auditorium) had so much water that holes
were chopped in the floor to allow the water to drain into the basement so the
organ would not be damaged. Several churches offered their buildings to the
congregation while repairs were underway. However, fast action by the Trustees
had the sanctuary ready for use by the next Sunday. Fire damage costs were
estimated at $35,000 to $50,000.
As part of the reconstruction, it was decided to have a separate chapel and
Sunday school auditorium. The new chapel was located in the south portion of the
Sunday school area. A generous donation by Elizabeth Greer Bausher was used to
complete and furnish the interior of the chapel and resulted in the dedication
of the chapel in January 1938 as the Greer Memorial Chapel.
Solon D. and J. Lee Bausher donated the chapel organ to the memory of Solon
D. Bausher’s first wife, Cora Elizabeth Bausher. The chapel as it exists today
is unchanged from its original construction. The Sunday School auditorium, the
parlor and small kitchen are also part of the reconstruction.
The actual cause of the fire was never determined. Fire officials surmised
that beams close to the heating boiler chimney got hot enough to ignite.
A MUSICAL HERITAGE
By Dr. Francis H. Williamson
The importance of music in the life of our church is shown by several
actions begun with the new church building. Dr. Stocks Hammond, a Fellow of the
Royal College of Organists, was brought over from England to be organist and
choirmaster. Also, in 1893, when the choir was vested in gowns, the trustees
thought that they were the first vested choir in Methodist history. At the same
time, Mrs. Aaron Wilhelm gave the original organ to the congregation in memory
of her husband. The family updated the instrument several times until the
Several years later, Hammond asked to be relieved of his duties. He later
served First Methodist Church in Pottsville. Miss Evelyn Essick, a daughter of
the congregation and sister of Joseph Essick, served as interim organist. Later,
Miss Essick won a prestigious choral competition in Philadelphia with the choir
of Second Reformed Church, Reading. For many years, she served as organist at
Christ Episcopal Church in Reading. (Her most famous Boychoir graduate there was
the tenor Paul Althouse of Metropolita Opera fame.) In 1896, the church again
arranged for the services of a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists. Walter
Heaton was an honors graduate of Victoria University. In 1922 he received a
Bachelor and Doctor’s degree in Music from Lincoln-Jefferson University. During
his years of service, all the worship services of the congregation were printed.
The anthem library shows that the choir music was selected according to the
liturgical calendar. At communion services, full communion masses of Schubert
and other composers were sometimes sung–Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus and Agnus
Dei. Many of Heaton’s anthems were published, among them were settings of the
Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis and other liturgical canticles. The playing of
trumpets from the tower seems to have been done frequently in those days.
With the resignation of Walter Heaton in 1928, John Duddy became organist.
Duddy served until 1933 when he left to continue his studies at Northwestern
University. Later, Dr. Duddy was to become Director of Music at Albright
College. Miss Marguerite A. Scheifele was the appointed organist-director,
serving until the late 1960s. Many present church members have fond memories of
the boychoir under her leadership. It is not always recognized that these
organists served the community through their teaching, not just their Sunday
playing. For example, Mildred Schnable, a pupil of Miss Scheifele, was a musical
leader in the Reading area for many years, serving the St. James U.C.C. Church
in West Reading. Robert Schultz IV, the bass in our quartet for many years, was
also a member of the Scheifele boychoir. The recitals for Miss Scheifele’s piano
students were often held in the main Sunday School room.
Mrs. Dorothy Garlichs became organist/director after Miss Scheifele’s
retirement and stayed until her husband was transferred out-of-state, at which
time Francis Williamson became organist (fall 1971). As professor of Music and
Religion at Albright, Dr. Williamson continued the long tradition at Holy Cross,
not only for fine music, but for music with theological and liturgical
integrity. The choir also continued the tradition of outreach through music
through participation in the yearly Alumni Choir Weekend at Albright College.
Through the assistance of the Holy Cross Choir, the college music program
included performances of masterworks by Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Brahms, Faure
and contemporary composers.
Clearly, the Memorial Church of the Holy Cross had recognized the importance
of music as a part of its faith identity and calling throughout these 100 years.
From its inception, authentic liturgy and the role of music in that service has
been a part of our calling. Moreover, the church served the musical life of the
Reading community through the work of its organist/directors and the quartet.
This, too, was part of the church’s mission; training and challenging young
people to value the gift of music, especially in the life of faith. As the
twentieth century comes to a close and the role of music in the community at
large and within the church again faces change, it is imperative that we take
seriously this heritage which is ours.
HOLY CROSS UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
By Elizabeth Rasbridge
During the early years of the Memorial Church of the Holy Cross, Methodist,
there existed a notable Boychoir under the tutelage of Miss Marguerite Scheifele.
About the year 1960, it was decided that a young choir should be formed to
accommodate girls as well as boys. Consequently, the Cherub Choir of Holy Cross
was formed and sponsored for the first year by the Young Adult Class.
Hrs. Marion Rodruan capably directed this group for several years and was
eventually replaced by Mrs. Betty Rasbridge, who held the position for the next
four years. She, in turn, was followed by Mrs. Dorothy Garlichs who served as
Church Music Director upon the retirement of Miss Scheifele in the early 1970s.
Also, Miss LuAnne Kerns and Mrs. Holly Parker served short terms as leaders who
helped train and develop the Cherub Choir.
The children, whose numbers ranged between 20 and 25, were ages K through
Grade 3. They wore white smocks accented by large maroon bows. Their gowns were
fashioned and sewn by their mothers and the children truly looked cherubic in
them. Practices were held in the upstairs Sunday School room on Thursday
evenings, and the choir sang monthly on a Sunday morning during the worship
service. On these occasions, they were accompanied by Miss Scheifele on the
In more recent years, the Cherub Choir became the Children’s Choir and was
first directed by Dr. Francis Williamson and then by Mrs. Barbara Piscitello,
and presently by Mrs. Joyce McNerny. Even though older children were included
in this choir, its numbers have decreased due to the absence of eligible young
people in the church. The garb was changed to light green choir robes with
white stoles at the time the Chancel Choir adopted the same apparel.
Some of the children who sang in the original Cherub Choir are now the
parents of the children who continue to bless the congregation with their
By Henry Hershey
The Boychoir of Holy Cross had been in existence for several years when I
joined in 1937. To the best of my memory and that of other fellow members, it
appears the Boychoir tradition started in the early thirties, with Miss
Scheifele as organist, and continued to 1952 when it became a Boys/Girls Choir.
The reputation of this choir was such that many families sent their sons to
sing with this choir. Many young boys studied voice and piano in Miss
Scheifele’s home, and I’m sure were influenced to join the Holy Cross Boy-
choir. In my case, my mother and grandmother had moved their membership from
Holy Cross to Windsor Street Church, as our home was only one block away;
however, when I was seven years old, I was enrolled in the choir at Holy Cross
and took voice and piano lessons as well.
I recall that Marguerite Scheifele would recruit every young boy in the
church, and it was hard to find a Holy Cross family with a young son who did
not sing in the choir. If she needed additional voices she would contact the
Children’s Home, and many years we would have three or four boys from the Home
as part of our choir. The average size Boychoir over the early years was about
To many of us, Miss Scheifele was a very strong influence, not only in her
music training but also in her character and moral demands. She was a no-
nonsense religious woman. And while I attended as a choir member – without my
family – she was both mother, grandmother and disciplinarian all in one. I
would be remiss in not saying that she had her hands full with me. We were
given 25 cents a month in a small envelope; however, during the month we were
“docked” for any misbehavior or problems we caused. Most months my envelope was
empty. In fact, I’m sure by the time my voice changed, in 1942, I probably owed
Miss Scheifele for the amount of times she wanted to dock me and there was
I gained many strong friendships over the years from the Boychoir, to name
a few: Robert Mast, George Lindemuth, Franklin Hodgkins, Bud Seward, Harold
Seward, Bob Shultz, the Ebling brothers, Al Stallone (from the Children’s
Home), Dana Gangewere, Kay Shober, etc. Many summers the boys would be guests
of my family at Green Valley Country Club, so this experience was more than
just singing in church.
Our Boychoir members were also given religious training by Miss Scheifele.
Many times during our Friday night rehearsals, she would take time to teach us
the meaning of the music we were using. I learned as much or more from her
about our Christian beliefs as I did in Sunday School.
These choirs were very accomplished. We were well rehearsed and well
trained. The choir dressed in crisp clean robes with hard starched collars.
There are many fond memories I have of the five years that I sang with this
choir, but most exciting to me was to go through life never forgetting this
experience. In 1951, I was baritone soloist at the Naval Academy and the other
three soloists (quartet) came with me to Reading to sing at Holy Cross. I
remember how proud I was, but the proudest person in church that day (next to
my mother) was Miss Scheifele. She always remembered her boys and stayed in
touch with many of them long after they left the Boychoir.
I have asked various former choir members to write a short note regarding
their years in the Boychoir. They are as follows:
Robert Schultz, III, writes:
As I recall, I went to Holy Cross at about age 10 after leaving Christ
Episcopal Church. I joined approximately fifteen other boys under the
direction of Marguerite Scheifele and Hildred Schnable for rehearsals on
Fridays in the large Sunday School room. During a break, we would disperse
through out the church. To me, at that age, it seemed to be a lot of work
that often ended in criticism about our singing. The boys always looked
forward to the time we would receive three little brown envelopes with money,
but to me the best gift was when we received the yearly membership to the
On Sundays, we would don those black gowns with the white collars and go
into the choir loft where, until you grew tall enough, you looked into the
metal music rack or under it. All during the service, you were scrutinized
and reminded to sit still.
I remained in the choir until about age 15 when my voice started to change.
My voice teacher, Miriam Baker Hompie, said I should stop singing. This was
the time I left the church. I returned as an adult in 1953, not as the
soloist, but just as a member of the adult choir.
Franklin Hodgkins writes:
My association with the Boychoir began in 1937, when I knocked on Miss
Marguerite Scheifele’s Madison Avenue home selling 5 cents Liberty Magazines.
It was one of the highlights of my life to date – the Boychoir led by
Marguerite A. Scheifele, Mildred Schnable, Assistant, and Minnie Rowley, driver
Rehearsals were held Friday night (before adult choir) and Saturday
afternoons, weekly. Initially, I was paid 35 cents a month, which was increased
to 50 cents when I became a soloist. But I seldom received more than a quarter –
docked in 5 cents increments for missing practice, chewing gum, and restlessness
in the choir loft during service. I paid 35 cents (my parents gave me the money)
to have my Buster Brown collar cleaned at a Chinese laundry. Usually I wore it
three or four times between starches. So my net loss cost me money. The best
part of my pay was the free Y.M.C.A. Boy’s Membership given to each choir boy, a
gift of Solon Bausher. That cost him $8.00 a year, and I was thrilled.
I remained an active member of Calvary Reformed UCC. From Sunday School, I
would leave Calvary promptly at 10 a.m. to run down the hill for the proces-
sional at Holy Cross at 10:45 a.m. I also became crucifer at age twelve, a
position I held for six years, even after my voice changed. I stayed in the
choir loft (without voice) until I was drafted for the service in 1946.
Miss Scheifele wrote, to me every week when I left for West Point (four
years) and each letter had inside a message from the Bible and one stick of
gum. She said it was to make up for all that she had made me take out during my
choir days. She also attended my graduation in 1951. I’m sure she had many
“spoiled” sopranos, but I KNOW that I was her favorite, at least until Michael
Flaherty came along (circa 1950’s).
I always wrote back to Miss Scheifele using the initials SAM which are her
initials backwards. Her middle name was Agnes. She is buried at Charles Evans
Cemetery, squeezed in, almost lost. I visit her frequently, at least once a
year. She died on St. Patrick’s Day – ironic! I thought she was a saint – never
while I was in the choir – but after I matured.
My growth through MAS via the Boychoir firmly established my Christian
beliefs and religious roots for life. Thank you, Holy Cross, MAS, and the
Boychoir gang (1937-1946).
Albert A. Stallone writes:
J. Lee Bausher, a trustee of this church as well as The Home for
Friendless Children, now known as The Children’s Home of Reading, made sure
that any young boy at the “Home” between the ages of nine and twelve, who
could still carry a tune and wear a two inch starched collar, sang in the
Boychoir at Holy Cross Methodist Church. This choir was directed by
Marguerite Scheifele … one of the most loving women I had ever known up to
the time I met my wife.
Fortunately, I met Mr. Bausher’s criteria, because I certainly could use
the thirty-five cents, and the “night out” once a week wasn’t a bad idea
In Miss Scheifele’s mind, I could do no wrong. Her only disappointment in
me, perhaps, may have been in my failure to convince my oldest son to follow in
Each year since her death, I relive some of those fond memories by placing a
lily in the Easter Garden of Lilies in front of our altar in honor of Miss
Marguerite Scheifele. Then, looking to the last pew off of the center aisle, I
give a wink to our soloist, Hank Hershey.
Eugene R. Curry, Jr. writes:
My recollection of being a member of the Boychoir goes back to sometime in
1947 when I was about 10 years of age and the choir director, Marguerite
Scheifele, pounced upon both my mother and myself after Sunday School with an
enthusiastic invitation to join the choir.
As I found it hard, even at that age, to say “no”, I joined the choir and
started the ritual of taking a bus every Friday evening from Glenside to the
church for rehearsals. My least favorite memory of being a member of the choir
was standing at the corner of 5th and Buttonwood after choir rehearsal during
the winter months, waiting for the bus to go home. My most favorable memory was
receiving my weekly pay envelope which contained 25 or 35 cents. I earned my
first dollar singing in the Boychoir at a wedding, and yes, I still have it!
Miss Scheifele was a very dedicated worker, and I have very fond memories of
her as well as of the friendships that were formed during those years with the
other members of the Boychoir.
THE HOLY CROSS SUNDAY SCHOOL ORCHESTRA
By Roy Thomas
One of the aims of a Church Anniversary Celebration is to acquaint present
church members with some of the achievements and practices in the earlier life of
At the request of the Anniversary Committee the writer will tell about the
Holy Cross Sunday school orchestra as he remembers it.
In the late nineteen thirties the Ira Rider family came to Holy Cross. Mr.
Rider, a General Insurance Agent, had been very active in Masonic musical
activities in the Harrisburg area.
Soon after coming to Holy Cross, he recruited several players from the
church and added a few semi- and professional musicians from the community.
Eventually ten or twelve players were accompanying the singing and presenting
an orchestral number on a weekly basis.
The orchestra personnel included students, teachers, insurance salesmen and a
retired cellist from the Pittsburgh Symphony. We did not know until after the
group had disbanded, just prior to the beginning of World War II, that Mr. Rider
had personally compensated the outside professional musicians.
As the writer prepared this article he realized that he is the lone non-
student survivor of the orchestra.
We have been able to follow the careers of some of the student musicians and
are pleased to report that Dr. Morette Rider, violin, has recently retired as
the Chairman of the Music Department at Oregon State University. Our trumpet
player, Williard Musser, became a well known bandmaster, adjudicator and
Clinician in New York State. Joe Boscov, violin and viola, founded and is the
present owner of BerkTex, a local firm engaged in the manufacture of electronic
and fiber-optic cables.
The writer has fond memories of playing the bass violin in the
orchestra, which in its time contributed much to the musical heritage of
EDITORS NOTE: Roy Thomas became a teacher of music and served as professor of
music at Kutztown State College (now Kutztown State University). He was Chairman
of the Music Department at the time of his retirement.
THE CHAPEL CLASS
By Dr. Frederick Vastine
The name was not always the Chapel Class. It occurred during one of our
monthly meetings, about 25 years ago more or less, that Jim Stoudt said to the
class, “You know, even though we are known as the Young Married Couples Class,
our status has changed. We are still married, but not so young. We are more
portly, with gray, thinning hair. It is time we change our name. Since we meet
weekly in the Chapel, why not call ourselves the Chapel Fellowship Class.” So
we became known as the Chapel Class.
The class had its inception at the time when Mrs. Helen Darrah (wife of Dr.
Leon Darrah, head of the Department of Obstetrics at the Reading Hospital) was
in charge of the primary department of the Sunday School. She saw these young
parents bringing their children and thought what a wonderful opportunity to form
another Sunday School class. She prevailed upon J. Lee Bausher to take the class
and be its teacher.
The class grew in size under J. Lee’s teaching, until we reached a peak of
about 85 people. Mrs. Howard Hartzell became the first president in 1934. Herb
Munshower had great fun leading the class in song. In later years, Bill
Shillady became our secretary and kept us aware of the health of the members.
Early records bring back a feeling of nostalgia – memories of great times
together – record attendance in J. Lee’s Sunday morning class – wonderful
banquets – picnics at the Copley’s farm – great social times.
Also in those early records are names unfamiliar to the present generations
– “those long dead and gone a while”.
We held a banquet in Krause Hall at Albright College in 1954 in honor of J.
Lee’s teaching of his class at church for 20 years. The format of the program
was copied from the television program “This Is Your Life”. Lee was much
pleased with the reference to a little red wagon which as a child he wanted so
much. We gave him a little red wagon as a memento.
Our annual banquets were always well attended and we were entertained with
many varied programs. “The Apostles”, the Bellaires from Central Catholic High
School, and “Chalk and Sound” were very impressive. A most outstanding program
was Edward Hill presenting time lapse photography – a rapidly changing scene of
nature and its growth, flowers and sky, winter and summer – beautiful and most
The class functioned for over 40 years with J. Lee as its only teacher.
Of course, when he went on his annual vacation in October with his wife, we
had substitute teachers, but Lee was our teacher. He gave unselfishly of his
time and talent to a class which meant a great deal to him, and we were the
better for it.
A remnant of the class still holds forth in the Chapel with our minister,
Arthur Rettew, teaching. Those who attend are inspired by his explanations of
HISTORY OF THE ADULT FELLOWSHIP CLASS
HOLY CROSS UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
By Elizabeth Rasbridge
During the mid nineteen-fifties there arose a need for the formation of a
group of young adults in the Sunday School of the Memorial Church of the Holy
Cross. At the time, there were active classes called the Chapel Fellowship and
the Philathea Class, among others, whose members were approaching middle-age.
Since many young couples with small children felt that they did not neces-
sarily have the same common interests and did not fit in with these classes,
the Young Adult Fellowship was organized and led by our pastor at the time,
the Rev. Charles Yrigoyen, Sr.
The purpose of this organization was to promote and maintain Christian
Fellowship among its members and to serve Holy Cross through projects and
other services mutually agreed upon by the membership and the church. The
group met each Sunday morning for Sunday School, often filling one of the
alcoves in the auditorium, and also socially on the 4th Tuesday evening of
each month, hosted in the home of one of the members. A cluster of approxi-
mately 25-30 men and women made up the original membership. Today, in 1991,
those numbers remain relatively the same for the social meetings. However,
the attendance is less during Sunday School.
Over the period of 25 plus years there came a time that, due to the aging
of the membership, the Young Adult Fellowship adopted its present identity;
namely, the Adult Fellowship Class. Under this name, as well as under the prior
title, many singles and couples have come and gone with very few of the
original group remaining today. While a few have chosen to leave because of
personal reasons, the vast majority have left due to occupational moves to
other cities and states. A number of these couples have retained close personal
friendships and spiritual ties as attested by their attendance on the occasion
of the 25th Anniversary Dinner held at the Sheraton and the more recent Church
Anniversary celebrations held in the Fellowship Hall the past two years.
This organization has been led by a slate of officers elected by the group.
For many years, the custom was to have two people (usually a husband and wife)
serve as co-presidents for a year. Upon completion of their term, these couples
were presented with a monogrammed Bible in appreciation of their services.
Today, one person serves as president for a two year term and remuneration is
in the form of a gift certificate given to an agency or charity of his or her
choice. The spiritual leader continues to be the pastor.
The money-raising projects have been varied. For many years, the annual
Christmas Poinsettia Sale (presently discontinued) served as our primary fund-
raiser. However, there were many other productive ideas that the Adult
Fellowship used to raise funds for church projects. Among these were the
Green Hills Theater ticket sales during the days when that summer theater was a
popular attraction. We shared also in the annual dinners served by the Women’s
Society. At the Christmas Turkey Dinner we sponsored a Santa Photo Booth and at
the Easter Ham Dinner candy was sold. In more recent years, a spaghetti dinner
was served by the group. Another important and very lucrative activity was the
sponsorship of a clothing outlet which weekly sold new and used clothing to
neighborhood residents at very reasonable prices.
All of the above functions made it possible for the class to sponsor many
worthwhile endeavors for the benefit of Holy Cross. A number of these projects
have been on-going. For instance, the membership, through its concentrated
efforts, renovated and equipped the Infant Nursery, purchased altar covers for
the Sanctuary, purchased a tea service for the Parlor, and organized and
supported for a year the Cherub Choir. Robes for the latter were sewn by several
dedicated members. In addition, as memorial gifts, a vestment cupboard and a
beautiful nativity set were added to the church’s prized possessions.
In conclusion, the history of this close-knit group, the Young Adult
Fellowship Class, now the Adult Fellowship Class, has been both a blessing and a
priceless heritage to the entire church membership. May God’s hand continue to
guide this group as it goes forward into the next 35 years!
THE BRINTONS — OUR MISSIONARY FAMILY
By Reta Barto
The relationship of the Church of the Holy Cross and the Thomas and Anna
Brinton family began in 1916 and spanned more than 50 years. At the time, Thomas
Brinton was completing his theological studies at Garrett Biblical Institute
(now Garrett Evangelical Seminary) in Evanston, IL, expecting to return to the
Philadelphia Conference (Eastern Pa. Conference) as a pastor. He and his wife
Anna were challenged to missionary service by a speech given to the student body
at Garrett by Dr. John McKendrie Springer, a pioneer missionary to Central
In 1910, John and Helen Springer had made a trip into the southern part of
the former Belgian Congo (Zaire) from Southern Rhodesia where they were
missionaries. The purpose was to see whether the Methodist Episcopal Church North
should begin missionary work among the peoples in the emerging towns and villages
of this copper mining area. On that trip, the Springers met with the great
African Chief Mwant Yav Muteba, who appealed for two missionary families, one a
doctor, the other an educator-evangelist, to begin work in his kingdom.
Back in New York the Springers shared with the Board of Missions the chief’s
request. The Board’s response was that it simply did not have the missionaries
or funds to support them. However, if Dr. and Mrs. Springer found the
missionaries and got churches in the United States to support them, the Board
would back the Springers. He visited Garrett Seminary where he had once been a
student and there delivered the speech that challenged the Brintons.
In previous contacts, a strong friendship had developed between the Jere Barr
and Joseph Essick families and John and Helen Springer. Through this friendship
the Springers had become acquainted with the Church of the Holy Cross and sensed
the potential for strong missionary interest and support. As a result, just
before Thomas and Anna Brinton and their six-month-old son, Howard, sailed for
Africa in June of 1916, they began a close relationship with the members of Holy
Cross Church which lasted over 25 years. Jere Barr and Joseph Essick and their
families were always the main contact persons at Holy Cross.
As the Brintons sailed to Africa, their ship avoided German submarines by
steaming south through the Caribbean and traveling without lights. They arrived
weeks later at Capetown. After another two weeks and three train changes they
reached Kambove, the end of the railroad line. Here they waited at a mission
station for two months, until carriers sent by the Lunda king arrived to carry
their belongings to their destination, Musumba, capital of the Lunda Kingdom of
Katanga, Southern Belgian Congo (Zaire). These last 500 miles were traversed on
foot, bicycle and hammock, along an old slave-raiding trail.
The next five years were spent putting the Lunda language into writing,
developing the first schools, and organizing the early converts into worship-
ping congregations with a strong evangelistic emphasis. Thomas also spent much
time translating the four Gospels, Acts and some of the Psalms into the Lunda
language. In 1922, returning to the Belgian Congo after a year’s furlough, they
were assigned to establish a new mission center at Sandoa, 100 miles south of
Musumba. For the family, which now included three small children, this meant
living in a tent, then a grass house and finally an adobe brick house with a
grass roof and a pounded dirt floor. The next few years saw the birth of two
more sons and the death of their only daughter. She died at the age of seven
after a two day illness with cerebral malaria.
The work at Sandoa and the many villages within a 50 to 80 mile radius grew
to include an agricultural program, a Bible school for pastors, and many village
schools and churches. Finally, in 1940, malaria, the scourge of the tropics,
caused severe heart problems for Thomas Brinton, necessitating his retirement
from the mission field. He and his family came back to Delaware where he served
small churches in the Peninsula Conference until his death in 1957 at the age of
In the meantime, Howard had completed his college education at Asbury
College in Wilmore, Ky., and had gone back to Africa as secretary to John M.
Springer, who was now Bishop of Methodism across Africa south of the Sahara
Desert. When his father was forced to leave Africa, Howard was appointed by
Bishop Springer to take his place until another missionary could be sent out.
Upon his return to the States, Howard enrolled in Westminster Theological
Seminary, now Wesley, and he and Elizabeth McAbee were married.
Their missionary service began in 1944, and included one term in the area
where Howard had first gone with his parents in 1916. Howard’s time was spent in
evangelism and church development. Elizabeth supervised an orphanage, a girl’s
boarding school and the women’s work, in addition to raising their two daughters
and a son.
Their next three terms were spent in church extension and development in
the rapidly expanding copper and cobalt mining cities of Likasi, Kolwezi and
Lubumbashi, where people of many tribes had come to seek work.
In 1966, the Board of Global Ministries in New York asked Howard to join the
staff there as Executive Secretary for the designated arm of missions support
known as the Advance, outside the United States. He retired in 1980, after 14
years relating to the mission work of churches in 54 countries. He continues to
interpret missions in district and local church events across the United States.
Fifty years after his parents were forced to leave the work at Sandoa because
of ill health, Howard Brinton was invited by Bishop Katembo Kayinda to preach a
series of sermons during the Southern Zaire Annual Conference. Meeting in the
Thomas Brinton Memorial Church at Sandoa, 700 delegates heard the conference
statistician report over 100,000 church members. For 1989-90 alone, in the 15
districts of the conference there were over 14,000 new converts to the Christian
faith. Children and grandchildren of the first generation Christians whom Thomas
and Anna Brinton helped to train were now leaders of the United Methodist Church
in Southern Zaire.
As Howard Brinton recalls his life, first as a child of missionaries and later
as a missionary in his own right, he remembers that during each furlough he and
his family would come to Holy Cross Church for a memorable weekend of warm
welcome and expressions of friendship and support.
UNITED METHODIST MEN
1954 to 1957 and 1986 to Present
By Hank Hershey
The first charter of Methodist Men was requested at a meeting on October 12,
1954. In attendance were J. Lee Bausher, Jeff Ballow, Nicholas Koste, Roy Thomas,
Henry Poe, Howard Hendricks, George Swartzwelder, William Shillady, Fred
Meinhart, Fred Vastine and Pastor Yrigoyen.
On February 5, 1955, Fred Vastine, who was the first president of Holy Cross
Methodist Men, conducted the Charter and Ladies Night program. James Stoudt
followed Fred Vastine as the second president. Although this group had a fair
start, the organization died from lack of interest in 1957.
In June 1986, the second charter of United Methodist Men was initiated.
Henry “Hank” Hershey was elected president of the Holy Cross group. In 1992,
approximately 50 men continue to participate in various United Methodist Men
activities. Meetings are held every other month with other Reading United
Methodist churches. Holy Cross men are now in their fifth year of monthly
furniture pick ups for “SHARE”. Our men work with inner city projects as well as
inner city youth. The United Methodist Men’s group remains a viable and very
important activity at Holy Cross.
“IN THE MIDDLE OF TOMORROW”
(The title of a book by Barbara Campbell in which she
traces the women’s movement of our predecessor churches
and our present United Methodist Church.)
By Reta Barto
Each generation of women moves according to the needs of the times and to
plan for the future.
The Annesley Guild of Holy Cross was organized October 19, 1908. Its purpose
was: 1. To broaden the sphere and extend the influence of Holy Cross throughout
the community; 2. To promote good fellowship among the families within the
church and congregation; 3. To contribute funds towards the maintenance and
improvement of the property and equipment of the parsonage, the sexton’s house
and the church.
The usual complement of officers was elected with Mrs. Walter Davis as
president. By-laws included “membership shall include every woman in the church,
and dues shall be not less than $1.00 per year payable in January.” The
executive committee met monthly. Their minutes recorded amounts collected from
their assigned members. The amounts were from $1.20 to $5.00; most of this was
pennies from the members’ pence boxes.
Quarterly meetings featured musicians, high school band, travelogues and
Bible study. Entertainers were given 50 cents.
In reality they functioned as a Ladies Aid. Minutes detailed the needs of
the houses and the church and how much was spent on each item. Money was raised
by oyster and ham suppers (at 25 cents per person), teas, bazaars and rummage
sales on Bingaman Street. (The sales continued there until the mid fifties. At
the last one, Adele Dunn placed her new hat on a top shelf for safekeeping –
Mrs. Lipka sold it for 50 cents.)
The minutes referred to payment on loans in time for a discount, but never
were the loan amounts recorded. Once their bank balance was $4.35. What did
they buy? Pay for? County and city taxes, water bills, furniture and equipment
for the houses and church. In November 1908 the Board of Trustees voted to
introduce the use of individual communion cups and asked the women to buy them
Those were amazing women of indomitable spirit and faithful to their
The Methodist Episcopal Churches North and South and the Methodist Protestant
Church merged in 1939. That conference decreed that each church shall have a
Woman’s Society of Christian Service by merging the Woman’s Foreign and Home
Societies and the Ladies Aid, but the women of Holy Cross didn’t know they no
longer were responsible for previous property and equipment costs. Two officers
learned about it at the School of Missions in the mid fifties. The local society
had borrowed $6,000 to buy appliances for the parsonage and the church kitchens
as well as the parlor. The same kinds of money-making ideas were used, only
suppers were now $3.75. The best idea was selling Christmas cards to business
and industries – 60% profit.
All this is incidental. Our name has changed twice before we became United
Methodist Women in 1972. Our concerns are still focused on women and children as
we try to implement the Purpose:
The organized unit of United Methodist Women shall be a community of
women whose purpose is to know God and to experience freedom as
whole persons through Jesus Christ; to develop a creative,
supportive fellowship; and to expand concepts of mission through
participation in the global ministries of the church.
All kinds of training, spiritual growth and educational opportunities are
offered through local studies, district and conference events such as retreats,
meetings and Schools of Christian Mission. The president and others attend them.
Our president is sent to the Quadrennial Assembly attended by 25,000 women.
Future concerns for local study are presented there. Recent emphases have been
on the environment, health and wholeness with education about the AIDS crisis,
Human Values in a Changing World, Japan and the Gospel of John.
Increased knowledge has stirred our hearts, too. Our missions pledge has
grown to $2,200, plus special gifts and Thank Offering Boxes. Pledges are
received and added to those funds from the fellowship meals we serve – mostly
conference committees. Last year we dispensed funds to conference retirement
homes, the Methodist Hospital, Church Children’s Homes of Philadelphia and
Reading, to many other groups, and to mail medical supplies to Zaire.
Our women are found in many local volunteer situations and in district
conference and jurisdictional positions. Pat Rettew is presently a visitor to a
woman in Berks Prison as a result of the program at our Annual Conference Meeting
Yes, we live today, we learn, pray and try to make Tomorrow a better day.
JERE HESS BARR 1876-1955
By Elizabeth Barr (Speicher) Moyer
Jere Hess Barr was born in 1876 in Columbia, PA. When he was a young man, he
moved to Lebanon, PA where he worked for the YMCA. He met his wife, Mabel
Light, and they later moved to Reading.
Jere H. Barr and Joseph W. Essick, brothers-in-law, started Essick and Barr
Insurance Co. It still carries their names today.
Jere and Mabel moved to West Lawn where they lived with their two children,
David and Betty (Speicher) Moyer.
He was a devoted member of Holy Cross Church where he worked and served as
Communion Steward and as Superintendent of the Sunday School (1916-26), but he
is best remembered for his “Three Minute Talks” in the Adult Sunday Schools from
Jere Barr and Joseph Essick were financially instrumental themselves and
then inspired Holy Cross sponsorship of the Thomas Brintons, missionaries in
the Belgian Congo, Africa, starting in 1917 and continuing for many years.
Jere Barr was very active in the community but was always the first to open
the doors of the church every Sunday.
Following are two examples of Jere’s famous “Three Minute Talks”:
Sunday morning, S. S. Nov. 11, 1934
True happiness does not usually come with what we commonly
As a boy I was very fond of hominy; I could never get
enough, until one day I was allowed to eat hominy until I
literally could not absorb another mouthful. From that day
to this I have never liked hominy.
In a certain candy shop, the clerks were allowed to eat all
the candy they wanted without restrictions. Most of them
soon lost all desire for candy.
A doctor’s son collected cigar wrappers a few years ago. One
day the father presented his son with a large bag full of
wrappers. From that minute, the enormous quantity of cigar
wrappers took away all his desire to collect them any more.
We soon tire of the things we can get without effort. Those who have “vacations”
ALL the time cannot enjoy them. They do not know the thrill of anticipation or
the joy of realization.
The child who receives fifty Christmas presents cannot by any stretch of the
imagination enjoy her fifty presents as much as the child who receives two or
At Marshall Field & Co. in Chicago last year, I saw Easter eggs presented to
the children of the Russian Tsar, beautiful works of art with priceless gems and
marvelous enamel. I can’t believe that they enjoyed the $5,000 eggs half as much
as I enjoyed the nests which my mother put out in the yard with a few colored
hardboiled eggs and some chocolate drops.
I read of the experience of a piano manufacturer who has found life in a small
country town where he has been forced by circumstances to live after he lost
all his money. He and his family have found the happiness in scarcity which
they never found in abundance.
I believe that I was happier having to start married life with simple things
and to work for better and better rugs and furniture.
Happiness is NOT a gift to be handed you in abundance. Happiness is found
in securing these gifts for yourself. For a man’s life consisteth NOT in
the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
Sunday morning, January 29, 1939
I am debtor both to the Greeks and to the Barbarians; both to the wise and
the unwise. (Romans 1:14.) I am not going to amplify Paul’s comment on his
I want to speak on our present day debts and of how little we think of what WE
OWE to others. Perhaps it may suggest to you how we depend upon others and the
importance of World Brotherhoods.
I made a round-trip to New York last week. I drove a motor car forty miles to
Allentown on tires the rubber of which came from the sweat of black men in
Brazil. It was put together in Detroit by a thousand different men working on a
long line of machines.
I got in a railroad train of ten cars drawn by a Pacific type locomotive
representing an investment of a million dollars contributed by thousands
of investors. My safety was watched over by hundreds of enginemen,
conductors, trainmen, trackmen, signalmen and officials. I sped along at
seventy miles an hour over rails rolled in a giant mill, where men
sweated and toiled that I might ride in comfort. I sat down to a meal –
shad from South Carolina; grapefruit from California; coffee from South
As I approached my destination in the heart of New York, we descended into a
giant tube burrowed under the mighty Hudson River, driven through rock at the
cost of dozens of lives and the efforts of men working in compressed air under
When I alighted from the train I got on an escalator which had been built in a
great factory and was constantly being inspected by trained men so that it would
work continuously. When I returned, I even rode down on a similar one working
the other way.
As I went from the main station into the waiting room, I passed a spot-light.
The door ahead of me opened automatically and beckoned me to go through without
thought or effort. Again men had conceived and brought to perfection things for
my comfort and convenience.
When I got to my destination I pushed a button, a door swung to one side;
I entered an automatic elevator and went to the right floor. The door
again opened and left me off at the landing. Another group of men had
preceded me with ideas for my convenience.
From the time I left Springmont in early morning until I returned late that
night, men and women had toiled ceaselessly for ME. Highways were built,
cleared of snow, signals erected, cars heated, meals cooked, my comfort was
considered every where I went, and including my fare I had spent less than ten
dollars for the business and enjoyment of the day.
Each one everywhere in the world – white, yellow, black, of every race, creed
and standard of living – ministers in some way to the comfort of some other
person or persons.
When Paul said 2,000 years ago that we owe a debt to both the Greeks and the
Barbarians he was right. When we send men and women to the far corners of the
earth and pay for their support, maybe we are helping a little to pay what we
By George Lindemuth
I was transferred to Holy Cross U.M. Church in 1920. At that time, there
were about ten to fifteen men who did the ushering, compared to 45 men now
(1992). In 1920, James Coleman was the head usher. He was a tailor and made
eight frock coats to fit the regular ushers. These coats were used every
Sunday for many years. I think we stopped using them in the 1950s. Now we use
them for special occasions.
Instead of using a few men as they did in the 1920s, I schedule the 45 men
to serve as ushers for at least two months in the year. They are a dedicated
After Mr. Coleman retired, Charles Speth was named as head usher and served
faithfully for many years.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Mr. Lindemuth was honored for his 50 years of dedicated service
to the Holy Cross congregation as an usher and head usher in 1989. He continues
to serve as head usher at the time of this writing (1992).
HOLY CROSS BASKETBALL
(1946 TO 1950)
By Hank Hershey
Nicholas Koste, a member of Holy Cross and Athletic Director of the
Y.M.C.A., organized a Church Basketball League for young men under 18 years of
age. Ten different churches launched this League in 1946. In addition to Holy
Cross, strong teams were entered from Alsace Lutheran, St. Matthew’s E.U.B.,
St. Mark’s Lutheran and a team from the Jewish Community Center. The remaining
teams were not contenders in the first few years.
The Holy Cross team won the League championship in 1946, ’47 and ’48. Bill
Housum coached the team. Members were Bill Dengler, Bill Ebert, Henry Hershey,
Phil Hafer, George Guenther, Rod Eaken, Bill Eaken, Bill Whitman and the
This basketball activity continued until the late ’50’s, when the Y.M.C.A.
was forced to discontinue the League because of lack of participation from
other churches. This basketball participation by Holy Cross boys was another
example of youth activities encouraged by Holy Cross members.
By Reta Barto
It was a bitterly cold winter Sunday morning in 1950 when Ken and I first
entered the Sanctuary of Holy Cross Church. We were early and thought we were the
first there until we saw a very tall man on the other side of the sanctuary. His
long legs seemed to propel him in leaps as he came to greet us. That man was
George Lindemuth. Soon after, a quiet small lady came in from the narthex to
extend her welcome. She was Charity Gorrell, who lived in the 400 Block of North
Fifth Street, and she was the official greeter for many years.
The next week we went to Sunday School. Mary and Fred Vastine took us under
their wing and introduced us to Lee Bausher, who was the Lay Leader and
acquainted with all the families in the church. Lee Bausher was also the teacher
of the Chapel Class and we were introduced to the members. Here were couples of
various ages in a fellowship which met monthly to celebrate every conceivable
occasion. One of our earliest memories was a dinner at Albright College to
celebrate Lee’s 25th anniversary as organizer and teacher of the class. (He
organized the class because Mrs. Darrah didn’t want the parents to remain in the
kindergarten while she was teaching their children.) At one time, Lee had
mentioned to the class that as a child he always wanted a little red wagon and
never got it. That night he received his little red wagon.
I recall seeing Jim Stoudt teaching a class of boys in the left alcove of the
auditorium and Miss Celia Weightman teaching the Philathea Class (elderly women)
in the center alcove. The Men’s Bible Class met in the parlor. Two of these men
had interesting habits. One would always go first into the Sanctuary and turn
down the thermostat on the east wall. About ten minutes later, the other would
enter and turn it up high. (He sat behind the first one.) The result was a
clanging and banging of pipes throughout the service. Solomon-like wisdom solved
the problem. That thermostat was disconnected and a new one was installed back
by the ushers’ room.
Ken and I joined the choir when Miss Scheifele was the director. We enjoyed
both the choir work and the fellowship. Unfortunately, in a couple of years,
Ken’s work and my involvements precluded rehearsal attendance.
During Dr. Wall’s last few months as pastor he mentioned the need for a youth
leader. Ken volunteered me. That was the finest group of young people I’ve ever
known . We did it all – Bible study, worship, hay rides, and even had a three-
part chorus. Each year we produced either a full length comedy or a religious
play. Once they planned a worship service which was shared in an Adamstown
church. As promised, we stopped on the way home at Pensupreme on Lancaster
Avenue. We and the Walker Copleys had to empty our pockets to pay for 23 banana
splits. The secret of the youths’ participation was both their own enthusiasm
and their parents’ cooperation. Family names still on our membership list are
Burkey, Crow, Curry, Eaken, Howard, Koste, Lindemuth, McQuiston, Vastine and
Soon after Dr. Yrigoyen came, he asked Ken to recruit men and money to paint
the upstairs classrooms. The story goes that Ernie Barth and Lee Bausher showed
up in brand new overalls. Another story was Doc German’s encounter with a
Sunday School teacher on a very hot August Saturday. He had stripped down to
his shorts and was painting the ceiling of a room. Heels clattered on the
steps, she entered the door, saw him and stammered “I came for my books to
study for September.” He replied, “You go right ahead, and I’ll finish my
painting before September.” Roy Thomas and Fred Vastine also participated in
the fun of this painting project.
Every church has many saints in it. Rachel Morris was in her late seventies
when we first knew her. Each Sunday she would check the regular attendees at
worship and the absentees were noted. That afternoon she sent them a note and an
order of worship. Another was Mrs. Lipka, who learned of my deficiency in pie
baking and often brought Ken an apple pie on Sundays.
We needed a new sexton when Mr. Hewitt retired after twenty-seven years of
service. One day, a miner from Schuylkill County rang the parsonage doorbell. He
asked if Dr. Yrigoyen knew of any jobs available. Tom Yiengst was hired on the
spot. He and Helen moved into the small house on Church Street just behind the
parsonage. He loved the church and his work proved that love. One summer
evening, I went early to a meeting. Tom was in the sanctuary and heard the
narthex door close, so he came to see who had entered. He asked me to come into
the sanctuary. I followed and sat down in the pew beside him. He pointed to the
west window all aglow from the red sunset, and said quietly “It looks like Jesus
is reaching out to me.” Sometime later Tom had surgery for a brain tumor. No one
told him he could not recover. His salary was continued while Helen and a nephew
did the cleaning and Ken kept the stoker filled with coal. Each Sunday Ken would
check at 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. and again at 8 o’clock to assure himself that the
balky furnace was working. Several months later and a short time before he died,
the Yiengsts moved back to Delano.
What a joy it was to discover our missions history beginning with our support
of Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Brinton in Africa. Upon their retirement, their son and
wife continued the work. Howard is married to a friend of mine, Elizabeth
McAbee, from Williamsport. Their support was continued by placing an Advance
Special in the budget. After they returned to the States, Howard suggested we
“build” churches with that fund. He did so in Korea, Brazil and Zimbabwe. I
visited the Zimbabwe church, a small frame building in the countryside. We have
since expanded our interests to include literacy, a male nurse in Angola,
pastoral support in Latin America, and medical missionaries in Africa. Add to
that the usual requests such as our excellent reply to the Food Lift for Russia.
Our pastors and laity were in the forefront of establishing Northwest
Neighborhood Ministries and continue involvement in many kinds of community
ministries. In the late fifties one pastor aided in developing the local
Human Relations Council and worked with it to improve job opportunities.
The late Mildred Jordan Bausher was dismayed by the living conditions of
some of the families in housing surrounding the church and on Buttonwood
Street near the church. The screams of children and of frustrated mothers
trying to control them pierced the air in hot weather. She did something
about it by speaking with them. Then she developed a summer camp for the
mothers at Blue Mountain and also provided child care. She recruited friends
to share special homemaking skills while the mothers enjoyed rest and play
and learned new skills. Some of the women even held food sales to provide
scholarships for other women.
As usual, some incidents are on the light side of life. Lillian Poe chaired
the parsonage committee when the new one was bought. She went up early on the
day of Open House to help, if necessary. Harold (Pastor Flood) had hung his
tools on the wall peg board in the utility room. She turned each one in the
opposite direction. She forgot he is left-handed.
We bought grape juice by the case. Ken asked the warehouse men to put a
case in the trunk while he paid for it, then took the case to the church.
Saturday morning an alarmed sexton called. The case contained prune juice.
The problem was rectified.
Yes, we came seeking good preaching and good music. All that and much more
is found at Holy Cross – a loving fellowship for each other and for those of
the community. Pastors and laity are in ministry in the church in district
conference, general church organizations, and in ecumenical situations.
Hundreds of hours are spent in community service through church, civic and
professional agencies. I thank God that Holy Cross took us in and that the
members continue their love for each other.
MINISTERS OF HOLY CROSS CHURCH
Date of Appointment
1822 Henry Boehm, Organizer of 1905 John H. Hackenberg
the Church (6 mos. Interim)
1823 Henry Boehm; Wesley M. Wallace 1906 J. Richards Boyle
1824 Jacob Gruber, Thomas Miller; James 1910 John H. Hackenberg
1825 William Hunter 1920 William H. Lindemuth
1826 Thomas Neal; Pharaoh A. Ogden 1928 Edward J. Bond
1827 Samuel Gracey; George C. Cookman 1932 Albert E. Piper
1828 David Best; John Lednum 1936 Luther H. Ketels
1829 David Best; Manlove Hazel 1945 Arthur S. Walls
1830 Thomas Sovereign 1952 Charles Yrigoyen, Sr.
1832 Joseph Ashbrook 1957 Harold D. Flood
1834 Thomas Millard 1968 Benjamin Gould
1835 William Torbert; Allen John 1973 F. Lewis Walley
1837 Allen John 1977 Robert C. Pike
1838 John A. Roche; M. D. Kurtz 1987 Arthur L. Rettew
1839 John A. Roche; Joseph Mann
1840 Samuel H. Higgins Associate Pastors
1841 Joseph Mason 1977 James Brown
1843 Pennel Coombe 1978 Susan Withrow
1845 Elijah Miller 1980 Robert Wilt
1847 William H. Wiggins
1848 Gassaway Gram
1850 John C. Thomas
1851 William H. Elliot
1853 John Ruth
1855 John B. McCullough
1857 John W. McCaskey
1859 James R. Anderson; Silas B. Best
1861 William L. Gray
1863 Jerome Lindemuth
1865 George W. MacLaughlin
1868 Thomas A. Fernley
1870 John F. Meredith
1871 Sylvester N. Chew
1874 J. Richards Boyle
1877 Wesley C. Best
1880 Richard W. Humphries
1882 Thomas B. Neely (Bishop)
1885 Charles W. Bickley
1887 Levi B. Hoffman
1888 William J. Stevenson
(Rev. Young/ short Interim before
1893 Isaac M. Foster
1895 George Gaul
1900 Richard Harcourt (Interim Pastor)
(Later became Pastor of People’s
1900 William Arnold Shanklin
(Leonard Swisher, Associate)