November 2018   
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Upcoming Events
NOV

20

TUE
Men of Courage
7:00 PM to 9:00 PM
Men's Bible Study
Bible Search
The History of Our Church
William Penn’s guarantee of religious freedom turned the eyes of the religiously oppressed in Europe toward America.  This was particularly true of the Scottish and Scotch-Irish immigrants, which led to the founding of Presbyterian churches in Pennsylvania.
Presbyterian influence in the West Branch Valley began with the appearance of famed missionary David Brainerd. As early as 1745 he had preached to the Indians as far up the river as Lock Haven.
Founded in 1792, ours is one of the oldest churches in this area. Its first meeting place was in God’s great outdoors, shadowed by the famous “Tiadaghton Elm” near lower Pine Creek Bridge.  It was organized by Carlisle Presbytery (a presbytery is a collection of Presbyterian churches in a particular region) in what today is the Presbytery of Northumberland.   The first pastor, Rev. Isaac Grier, preached his first sermon on June 28, 1792.
The first building, known as the “Pine Creek Church,” was built near the “Tiadaghton Elm” and dedicated in 1798. When it was built, Jersey Shore did not yet exist.  The building had no seats (people brought their own) and no heat but worshipers thronged to it.  The former Indian Reserve Territory was sparsely settled – in 1800 there were only four houses on the present site of Jersey Shore.  Without a pastor after 1806, the church declined to 30 members, but began to grow again after Rev. John Grier began 37 years as pastor in 1814.
In 1832, Presbyterians joined with Baptists to build an edifice on the corner of Broad and Seminary Streets in Jersey Shore.  For years, it was known as the “Union Church.”  Gradually the Presbyterian attendance moved from Pine Creek to Jersey Shore.  In 1836, the Pine Creek building was converted into an academy, and was used as such until it was destroyed by fire.  In 1844, Presbyterians bought out the Baptist interests in the “Union Church,” making it Presbyterian property from then on.
In 1849 it was decided to build a new church on S. Main Street (across the street, near the present Laundromat).  In 1851 Rev. Joseph Stevens was elected Pastor, serving 35 years.  On November 28, 1852, the new building was dedicated to the service and worship of the Triune God.  It was a large and beautiful edifice, elegantly finished and furnished.  The initial cost was $5,920.  The first pipe organ in Jersey Shore was later installed, and was played for the first time at the Christmas Service of 1892. 
Less than a year later, on September 13, 1893, the building was destroyed by fire.  The day after the fire, the congregation met and decided to repair the Union Church to use temporarily.  The cornerstone of our present building was laid on September 12, 1894.  It cost $35,000, and included a 16 ft. square, 102 ft. high tower with a 1550 lb. bell and, later on, a town clock.  The building was dedicated to the worship of Almighty God on July 14, 1895.  In 1967 a Christian Education wing was added, and in 1989 renovations added a wheelchair lift and repainted the whole facility. Since 1895, our church has been served by 17 pastors, most recently by Rev. William D. Chancellor (1987-2000), our Parish Associate Emeritus Rev. Henry Hopper (1988-2002), and our current pastor, Rev. Charles D. Winkelman.
Fires are not the only adversities we have overcome.  There have been three major floods, in 1889, 1936, and 1972, and a minor one in 2004.  The ’72 flood occurred when Hurricane Agnes caused the Susquehanna River to rise to an all time high that flooded the church with almost eight feet of muddy water, coming up to the bottom of the stained glass windows and covering the last four of the Ten Commandments painted on our front wall!
In 2010 we began to add more contemporary praise singing to our traditional worship, blending the best elements of both styles to broaden our ability to reach younger generations.  In July 2017 we helped host a 5-night, multi-church evangelistic crusade in the JS High School Football Stadium, with our very own mission partner, Pastor Richard Nyakaana of Uganda, as the speaker.  Hundreds attended each night, and there were even some miraculous healings!  In August 2017 we celebrated our 225th anniversary at an outdoor worship near our first meeting place by the Tiadaghton Elm, with two other congregations (Great Island Presbyterian in Lock Haven, and Lycoming Presbyterian in Newberry) who were formed at the same time.
In over two centuries of Presbyterian work and witness, thousands of lives have been touched by the love of Christ.  We, who now offer service to God in this beautiful church, realize the rich heritage we have inherited from those in the past, and look with excitement to what God will do among us in the future, as we strive to love, serve, glorify, and enjoy our Loving God as followers of His Son, our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.