Church Histories - Salem Reformed Church History

The following history is reproduced from "Salem United Church of Christ 160th Anniversary Book" by Carolyn Schrecengost. Reprinted by permission of Carolyn Schrecengost.

Written records of the congregation during the first years do not exist, therefore it is impossible to have a complete picture of it. From the following sources, we have gained information, which enables us to piece together at least part of the picture: "Smith History of Armstrong Co.", 1883; "Beers History of Armstrong Co.", 1914; "Illustrated Portfolio of Reformed Churches of W. Pa." by J. N. Naly; "The History of the Pittsburgh Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church" by Rev. Ellis B. Burgess; previous anniversary booklets; records of the congregation dating from 1856; and various recollections of older (some now deceased) and current members.

The original members of Salem (Hill’s) Evangelical and Reformed Church were among the early settlers in this part of the country. Many churches had already been established in Eastern Pa., such as the Himmel Church, where many early records have been found pertaining to the Schreckengost family. Many original settlers, who located in Armstrong Co. during the period of 1780 to 1810 were Pennsylvania Germans from Lehigh and Northumberland counties. Some then migrated from Eastern Pa. to Westmoreland Co. It is believed that the Hill family came here from the Emmanuel Reformed Church, Export, Pa. (also known as Hill’s Church). Part of Westmoreland Co. became Armstrong Co. around 1800.

Mr. John Wm. Weber was perhaps the first settled Reformed pastor west of the Allegheny Mountains along Sewickley Creek. He made frequent missionary trips to Armstrong and other surrounding counties to preach the gospel, baptize the children, instruct and confirm the youths and administer communion.

The early congregation held their first religious meetings in Abraham Hill’s barn in 1841. (According to Smith History, in 1837 land transfers show Abraham Hill and Joseph Hill were owners of farms in the area.) Meetings were also held in private residences. Since many of these settlers came to this area in the late 1700’s, it seems probable they held services many years before 1841, perhaps with or without an itinerant preacher. Religious freedom was very important to them, since most left Europe to escape religious persecution.

1844 - In 1844 services were held in the Schaum (Hill’s) schoolhouse, which was located at just about the corner of the orchard opposite the present site. Some of the older members recall that our present day parking space was their school playground. These early services were under the faithful care of Rev. Knapper (Knepper), Rev. Leberman and also Rev. George F. Ehrenfeld of the Lutheran Church at a somewhat later date.

1850 - About 1850 an organization was effected, and Rev. Frederick Wise became pastor of Salem Reformed Church. Thus began the long and now official history of the Salem congregation.

1856 - "When the group holding services in the Schaum School House desired to build a House of Worship, a difference of opinion arose. It was in 1856 while the Rev. Frederick Wise was their pastor. Some favored a site at the forks of the Blairsville and Franklin Roads, while others favored one on Pine Creek. The pastor first tried to force the congregation to accept his choice of a site, but agreed to let the party gathering the largest amount of subscriptions to decide the matter. After the Cross-Roads group had collected the greater amount, he refused to agree to their choice. He then agreed to compromise, but as soon as the books were in his hands he arbitrarily said, 'We will build on the old site at Pine Creek.' The Cross-Roads group became angry and resolved to build a church of their own, which they did. When their cornerstone was ready to be laid Rev. Mr. Wise refused to have anything to do with it or permit another Reformed pastor to come to the field. That settled the matter for the group and they went over to the Lutheran Church in a body." (Ref.: Beers History of Arms. Co. 1914 and Burgess History of the Pittsburgh Synod.) Thus, the Pleasant Union Lutheran Church was formed a few miles away.

The other group with Rev. Wise proceeded to build their church at the site of their choice. This building stood in the middle of the older part of the cemetery, close to the present roadway. It was dedicated for worship by the Rev. Frederick Wise in 1856 and was used by the congregation until the erection of our present edifice in 1881.

The first building is remembered by one of our aged friends who was a lad of twelve years (and has since passed on) when the congregation decided to build their new house of worship. "It was a plain church with one entrance in the front. The exterior was never painted. The seats were made of planks, with no backs. Two old-fashioned stoves heated the building. In the center front was an elevated pulpit for the preaching of the Word of God." (Ref.: earlier anniversary booklet) Note: almost all early church edifices were log structures. Most settlers were farmers but were also good builders. A united effort of church members was needed to place the logs, then chunk and daub them to complete the outside.


1858 - According to the records of 1858: "As no record of the congregation was kept during the first few years of her history, it is impossible to form a complete list of all the names of the members from the beginning. The original members were amongst the first settlers of this part of the country. They were of Reformed parentage and came mostly from Westmoreland County, Pa. The first list of members is a list of those who communed May 30th 1858, under the pastoral care of Rev. F. Wise, which is after the secession of the members who organized the congregation now known as Pleasant Union (Lutheran) or X roads Church took place, so that the names of many of the first members have been obtained from the memory of the early Fathers of the congregation whilst many others are lost entirely." Note: the following family names are among those who communed: Baum, Beer, Bittinger, Boyer, Cogley, Elwood, Engle, Essenwine, Hawk, Hill, Kerns, King, Kline, McAfoose, McFarland, Moesta, Pennepacker, Dieffenbacker, Pifer, Rearick, Peterman, Rumbaugh, Schrecengost, (Schreckengost, Schrecongost), Seechrist, Schaum, Smith, Sowers, Shannon, Shoemaker, Turney, Troutman, Uplinger, Umbaugh, Williams, Yount. (Later families communed in 1870’s, were named Beck, Baughman, Bussard, Caldwell, Clever, Cline, Farster, Garner, Garland, Gerhold, Harkelroad, Harris, Heasly, Hepler, Hetrick, Lauster, McDonald, McCleland, McMillen, Noll, Peart, Powers, Ramer, Richey, Rupert, Rupp, Schesley, Southworth, Stroup, Titus, Umbaugh, Wampler, Weaver, Wingard, Yockey, Ziegler.)

Mar. 5th 1860 - The Salem Congregation was without the regular services of a Pastor for two years or more. In the meantime, with two other congregations, Mt. Union and Belknap, the Rev. E.D. Shoemaker entered upon his duties as pastor of the Charge, on the 5th day of March 1860.

Mar. 20, 1860 - The Lord’s Supper was celebrated. 47 persons communed.

July and August 1860 - In the community, five children of Michael T. Schrecengost and Mary A. Hawk died in the diphtheria epidemic. (Three others survived.) Michael T. was the son of "Gentleman John" Schrecengost.

Nov. 4th, 1860 - The Lord’s Supper was celebrated. Sixty communed.

1861-1865 - Civil War between the States. Many local men were members of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). (See cemetery lists.)

May 1862 - Rev. E.D. Shoemaker resigned the Kittanning Charge. Rev. C.R. Dieffenbacher accepted after receiving the call from the charge in May 1862.

June 28, 1862 - C.R. Dieffenbacher, Pastor. The Consistory met June 28, 1862 where Jno (John) Hill, who was suspended from membership, appeared, professed sorrow and repentance for the conduct for which he was suspended and was restored to full membership. Mr. Jacob McAfoos was received into membership from the Presbyterian Church.

June 29, 1862 - The Lord’s Supper was celebrated. The pastor was assisted by the Rev. Joseph G. Shoemaker, on which occasion 72 regular members and others from surrounding congregations communed. The collection was $8.33.

June 30, 1862 - Civil War - Peter Hill (son of Abraham Hill Sr.) killed in battle before Richmond Va. June 30th 1862, while fighting bravely for his country, the perpetuation of our government, the glorious union. His body was buried on the battlefield: he fills a patriot grave - all honor to the brave, Peace to his ashes. Funeral sermon preached Sept. 9, 1862 based on Acts XXVI.8 by Rev. C.R. Dieffenbacker. The deceased brother was a member of Company F, 9th Regiment Pa. Reserves under General McCall who was taken prisoner in the battle. Aged 20 years, 5 months, 7 days.

Sept. 17, 1862 - Union forces stopped a Confederate invasion of Maryland in the Civil War Battle of Antietam.

Dec. 26th 1862 - Michael T. Schrecongost died in the 42nd year of his age. Brother Schrecengost filled the office of elder at the time of his death. He was one of the pillars in the congregation and one of the most earnest and devoted members. In his death the church has lost an able supporter, the State a good citizen, and the family a kind husband and father. God’s ways are not our ways. He died of smallpox. Funeral text was Rev. XIV.13. His widow then married Michael’s brother, William T., and they had two children. (Note: the above date was taken from the Salem church records, see reference from Beers History which states Michael T. Schrecengost died Dec. 24, 1861, the date may be incorrect in the Beers account.)

April 18, 1863 - John Troutman died in the regimental hospital below Washington D. C., aged 20 years, 8 months, 11 days. Deceased was a confirmed member of the church and honored his profession by a humble Christian walk. Thus is our little flock being transplanted from the Church militant, to the Church triumphant above. His disease was measles. Funeral text Rev.XXI.4

Feb. 11, 1864 - Sloan Beer, Baptized member, disease diphtheria. William Cogley (confirmed member) died in U S Army hospital Pittsburg, Pa. Aged ?

June 17, 1864 – Rev. Wise conducted several baptisms during vacancy in pulpit.

Aug. 1864 - Harvest collection was $32.00.

Apr. 1, 1865 - Rev. C.R. Dieffenbacher having resigned, the Charge became vacant.

Mar. 1865. Rev. J.F. Snyder accepted the call extended to him.

May 14, 1865 - Noah Boyer, Elder of the Salem congregation and his wife appeared before the Consistory asking for certificates of dismission to the South Bend charge, under the pastoral care of the Rev. M. Hockman, which request was granted. (The purpose was to form a new congregation.)

June 11, 1865 - James Hill formerly Deacon of the Salem congregation was elected and installed to the Eldership in place of Noah Boyer resigned.

Dec. 26, 1865 - Consistory met, Joseph M. Schrecongost and David A. Schrecongost made application to be received as members into the Salem congregation. After sustaining a satisfactory examination and making a credible profession of their faith in Christ, they were received into full communion and confirmed.

May 18, 1866 - Consistory met, opened with prayer. Mrs. Elizabeth Beer appeared and made application to be received as a member into the church. After profession of her faith in Christ was admitted into full communion and confirmed with the catechetical class.

Mar. 17, 1867 - Rev. Wise conducted baptism, pastorate vacant due to illness of Pastor Snyder.

July 27, 1867 - Mary A. wife of Wm. Schrecengost died after a short illness.

Aug. 15, 1867 - The "Kittanning Charge" now consists of four congregations, Mt. Union, Salem, St. John’s (Belknap) and St. Mark’s (Eddyville). In consequence of ill health, Rev. J.F. Snyder resigned. After a vacancy of several months, the Licentiate, J.J. Pennepacker, in obedience to a call previously received, entered upon his duties as Pastor.

Sept. 1867 – J.J. Pennepacker was ordained to the gospel ministry and installed as Pastor of the Kittanning charge at Belknap Church on Sept. 14, 1867, by a committee of Clarion Classis. Rev. J.G. Shoemaker and Rev. W.G. Engle appeared as members of the committee. Rev. J.G. Shoemaker preached from I Tim. 14:13-16.

Oct. 6, 1867 - At a meeting of the Consistory, Daniel and Susannah Yount applied to be admitted to the communion via renewal of profession. After making a solemn promise to be more faithful hereafter, they were admitted. On motion, the pastor was authorized to procure a copy of the order of worship for the Reformed Church, for the use of the congregation. Signed: J.J. Pennepacker.

Nov. 27, 1867 - Daniel Yount (confirmed member) Aged? died but a few weeks after renewal of profession. Funeral text I Cor. XV 47.

April 19, 1868 - Nancy Bell Rohrer (baptized member) daughter of Ruben and Fanny Baum died age 8 mos. 11 days.

May 23, 1868 - On Saturday May 23, seventeen persons were confirmed. After service, according to previous announcements, a congregational meeting was held. On a motion, the plan which the Consistory proposed for the lay out of the graveyard was approved and adopted.

May 24, 1868 – Communion was held, one person was confirmed and two received a renewal of profession, making in all 24 additions to the church during the year.

Aug. 16, 1868 - Harvest Home.

Sept. 27, 1868 - Fall Communion.

Nov. 21, 1868 - Mrs. Fannie Baum and Mrs. Nancy McAfoos were received by certificate from the Mount Union congregation.

1869 - The Mt. Union Reformed and Lutheran congregations were organized at McCullough school-house, by Rev. Frederick Wise of the Reformed and Rev. J.H. Wright, Lutheran. Jointly they erected a building in 1870. During communion in 1873, the church burned completely and in 1874 a brick structure was built at a cost of $3,000.

Feb. 16, 1869 and May 9, 1869 - Communion.

May 8, 1869 - Mrs. Sarah J. Pennepacker was received by certificate from the St. Paul’s Ger. Ref. church, Lancaster City, Pa.

Oct. 24, 1869 - Communion held. Also: Officers Levi Hill, Elder and J.M. Schrecengost, Deacon were ordained and installed to serve two years.

Feb. 1, 1870 - Consistory met at 10:00 am, opened with prayer. It was agreed to commence the pastoral year on the 1st day of April and arrangements were made for a settlement at that time. Also agreed that the term of the church officers begin at that time, and that an election be held for one Elder and one Deacon to serve two years, in place of Elder Wm. Troutman and Deacon Abraham Hill, whose terms of office will accordingly expire at that time. The president was instructed to draft a Constitution with a view of presenting it to the congregation for adoption, as her guide. Closed with prayer.

Feb. 27, 1870 - Communion was held by Pastor Pennepacker; church members also communed on June 5, 1970 and Oct. 30, 1870.

May 12, 1871 - At a meeting of the congregation held after divine service, the action of a meeting held Apr. 3rd was reconsidered and it was unanimously agreed to repair the church in a substantial manner.

May 13, 1871 - Benjamin Ury Schreckengost and wife Harriet B. were received as members of the congregation on renewal of profession of faith.

May 14, 1871 - Communion held.

June 1871 - In June at an annual meeting of the Clarion Clafsis, the name of the charge was changed to that of St. John’s.

Oct. 30 1871 - Samuel Hill, son of Peter and Isabella Hill, d. aged 17 y., 1 mo., 21 days. Text: Jno. XI:25.

May 14, 1872 - Confirmation service conducted. Powell Ziegler and Mary E. Schreckengost were received by renewal of profession of faith.

June 1872 - At the annual meeting of the Clarion Clapis (Classis), the Mt. Union congregation was taken from the charge.

July 1872 - Jeremiah son of James and Soviah Hill d. aged 18 y., 3 mo., and 7 days. Funeral was on July 21st.

March 10, 1873 - At a meeting of the joint Consistories held at St. John’s church, the Pastor offered his resignation to take effect April 1st, which on motion was accepted. He and his wife will take ministry at Rimersburgh. Donation sent to St. Paul’s Orphanage.

1873 - St. John’s Charge becoming vacant by the resignation of Rev. J.J. Pennepacker, it was filled by Rev. H.W. Hoffmier (Huffmeyer), who was duly elected and received a call as Pastor of the charge. But in consideration of the fact that a balance of $31.00 was due from the St. John’s congregation to the former pastor, the committee appointed by Classis to install him could not proceed with that due, but allowed him to remain as supply. On the 13th of Sept. 1873, he offered his resignation to take effect on the 1st of Oct. 1873, which being accepted; the charge again became vacant.

1874 - On the 26th of April, the charge was visited by Rev. James Grant, of Westmoreland Clapsis (Classis). An election was held for him as Pastor, which resulted as follows. Salem congregation 19 for, none against; St. Mark's 11 for, 2 against; St. John's 10 for, 4 against; total votes 46, 40 for and 6 against. He being duly elected Pastor, a call was extended and accepted by him and he was duly installed Pastor of the charge.

June 28, 1874 - David A. Schreckengost and wife received by renewal of confession. Received Nancy Jane Turney by confirmation.

Aug. 5, 1874 - Communion collection was $16.47.

Sept. 20, 1874 - Wm. and Ann Troutman, John, Elizabeth, Susannah, and Mary Seechrist, Jacob W. Baum, Nancy, David, and Caroline Baum, William and Elizabeth Titus, Joseph Baum Jur., John and Esther Baum were dismissed for the purpose of forming organization at Oliver school house.

Apr. 3, 1875 - Received Henry S. Cogley, Levi Cogley, Jacob A. Cogley by renewal of profession and Eliza Jane Cogley by letter from Pleasant Union Lutheran Church.

Aug. 28, 1875- Received by confirmation, Julia Ann Hill, Nettie Jane Hill, Catharine Essenwine, Sarah Rebecca Cogley, Nettie Caroline Baum, Mrs. Hannah Baum, Mary Ann Hill.

Mar. 31, 1877 - John Frederick Gerehalt (Garhold, Gerhold) and Henry John Hill were received on renewal of profession of faith.

1877 - At a meeting of the joint Consistories of the charge held at St. John’s Church, Rev. James Grant tendered his resignation as Pastor of the charge. The resignation to go into effect July 1st, 1877. After considerable discussion the resignation was accepted.

July 21, 1877 – "Classis having refused to confirm the resignation of the Pastor, another meeting of the joint Consistories was held at Salem church July 21, 1877, at which the resignation was tendered again and accepted and the pastoral relationship was dissolved at a subsequent meeting by Classis, to take effect Aug. 31, 1877." By permission of Classis, Rev. Grant supplied the Salem congregation until March 31st, 1878, when on account of his removing to Westmoreland County the supply ceased.

Mar. 1878 to spring, 1879 - Rev. M.H. Diefenderfer, pastor.

May 25, 1879 - Communion held by Rev. A.K. Kline, charge being vacant.

Sept. 7, 1879 - Rev. George A. Whitmore began his ministry with the charge.

Apr. 23, 1880 - Franklin Hill, baptized member and catechism faithful and regular in attendance, a promising young man in his 19th year, cut down budding by _?_ (unclear). Funeral was preached by the pastor Rev. Geo. A. Whitmore based upon Job 14:1-2.

Jan. 10, 1880 - Rev. George A. Whitmore minister. First Consistorial meeting of Salem congregation met at 1 o’clock to consider names of persons who made application for admission with the church together with other matters claiming the attention of the Consistory.

May 15, 1880 - The Consistory met at four o’clock to consider the names of A.T. Johnston Wingard, Henry John Hill and Malinda J. Hill his wife, Mrs. Catherine Hill Sr., Catherine Bussard, and her daughter Margaret, Sarah C. Cogley who appeared and applied for admission into the communion of this church. All being considered, examined and found in order were on the following day admitted into the full communion of the church, all by renewal of confession, excepting A.T.J. Wingard and Margaret Bussard who were confirmed. The meeting adjourned with the benediction. Geo. A. Whitmore, pastor.

Aug. 21, 1880 - The Catechetical Class were examined and received into full membership by the rite of confirmation.

Aug. 1881 – "The Consistory of Salem’s congregation met Aug. 7, 1881 and adjusted a settlement with me at which time found themselves indebted to me for the sum of $30.00 including the last two years for which they gave me a due bill." The agreement was signed by Rev. George A. Whitmore.

1881 - Under the inspiration and leadership of Rev. Whitmore, and with a congregation of 75, they decided to build a larger and more modern house of worship. The Article of Agreement dated March 7, 1881, for the construction of this church has been preserved and we note the following names on the building committee: William Boyer, Abraham Hill Jr., J.M. Schreckengost, Geo. A. Whitmore, J.A. Boyer, A.K. Cogley, J.B. Sowers and King Bros. Co. Contractors.

The ground for the building, we learned, was presented by John H. Hill, father of Nancy (Hill) Schreckengost, Benjamin Hill and others. He and his wife Catherine were grandparents of Mrs. Ivy (Hill) White and Mrs. Fay (Hill) Smith. In order to realize their goal, these people co-operated in every way they possibly could. Some hauled the water from Pine Creek for mixing mortar and plaster, much of the lumber was hewn and planed by others, the carpenter work was also done by members. The wall was built by John Gerhold and much of the tedious work was done by volunteers.

This work was completed and the church was dedicated 1881. In "Illustrated Portfolio of Reformed Churches" compiled by J.N. Naly we read: "This building is considered the most modern building of the charge and is well furnished with fine carpets and modern pulpit set."

Oct. 1, 1881 - The first Baptism held in the new building was that of Ida Catherine Schreckengost (who married Redfield and Berg), daughter of Joseph Mosgrove and Nancy (Hill) Schreckengost.

Salem UCC Church built in 1881
This undated photo shows the Salem Church that was built in 1881. Thanks to Carolyn Schreceongost for sharing this picture.

Jan. 20, 1883 - Mrs. Mary McMillen and Mrs. Annie Bussard having given satisfaction as to preparation for church membership were received into full communion of the church by the rite of confirmation. Geo. A. Whitmore.

1883 - Cowanshannock Twp. was not well supplied with good roads until about 1845. The Kittanning-Smicksburg Pike was authorized to be made along a route that diverged from near Patterson’s mill in Valley Twp. to the left of Anderson Creek Road. In 1883, the present route through Rural Village was adopted by the pledges given by the inhabitants of that place and vicinity to make several miles of the pike, if the route was changed, which they did. (Smith)

June 21, 1884 - Mrs. Sarah Christina Caldwell and Mrs. Maggie Caroline Farster having made application to be received into membership was examined by the Consistory. The examination having been satisfactorily sustained the former was received by baptism and the latter by the rite of confirmation.

1884 - Benevolent contributions were made to Harbor Missions and St. Paul’s Orphans home.

From 1884 to 1887 - Rev. S.T. Wagner (Wagoner) was pastor.

1885 - During the history of the Salem church, it has been joined with various other churches comprising several different charges. We first note it was called the "Kittanning Charge," composed of Salem, Mt. Union, Belknap and Eddyville. 1885 to 1888 - It was known as the "Plum Creek Charge", comprised of Salem, St. Thomas of Gastown, St. Paul’s of R. D. Rural Valley, and Zion Church near Five Points.

May 10, 1886 – Jacob Baum died aged 87 years 7 mos. 20 days. Mr. Baum was a faithful member, a kind father and a good citizen.

1886 and 1887, Communion was held by Rev. A.C. Snider.

Nov. 6, 1887 - Communion by Rev. S.T. Wagner.

Mar. 4, 1888 - Communion by Rev. Robert C. Bowling, St. Luke’s, Kittanning.

June 24, 1888 - Communion held by Rev. J.F. Wyant.

1888 to 1893 - The Plum Creek charge: Zion church near Five Points was assigned to another charge and Mt. Union was added in its place so that the Plum Creek Charge from 1888 to 1893 included St. Thomas, St. Paul’s and Mt. Union. Also in 1888, St. John’s (Belknap) was dissolved by Clarion Classis and the church was sold and torn down, congregation was re-established nine years later.

1888 to 1889 - Rev. Alexander M. Kifer was the pastor. He left Salem to go to St. Paul’s church.

1890 to 1893 - Rev. William D. Lefevre came from St. Paul’s church.

June 11, 1891 - Amos D. Bittinger and Mary L. Doverspike were married by Rev. W.D. Lefevre, Pastor, at Putneyville. Fee $5.00.

Dec. 24, 1891 - Rev. W.D. Lefevre, Pastor, at Greendale, Pa., married Jacob A. Cogley and Mary E. Moesta. Fee $5.00.

1893 - The Salem Charge was formed, composed of Salem, Mt. Union, Belknap and Eddyville congregations. (In 1939 Mt. Union asked to be part of Kittanning Charge, and is now called Mt. Union Bible Church.)

Nov. 1893 - Rev. Lucian W. Showers came to Salem from St. Paul’s. Ministers often were called from other area churches and sometimes exchanged pulpits.

1895 - Rev. Showers left his ministry at Salem this year. However, on Feb. 13, 1896 he officiated at the wedding of Joseph Franklin Schreckengost and Ora May Southworth at the home of the bride at Greendale. It is likely many weddings and funerals were held during 1881 to 1896 but very few are recorded during this time. Usually weddings and funerals were held in the home.

1897 to 1900 - The pulpit was vacant until 1897, when Rev. D.W. Kerr became the minister for Salem and Belknap. Once again ministers are shared. He revived the Spirit at Belknap saying, "Memories of the past were sacred to the former congregation members who remembered their love for the church. Its roots were deep and the seeds of church life, dormant since 1888 were replanted". He would help them establish a permanent house of worship. A similar revival occurred at Salem, although the church building had not been lost, as was the one in Belknap. He set about building a spiritual foundation for the people of Salem.

Jan. 28, 1898 - D.W. Kerr and Rev. S.T. Wagoner, former minister at Salem, preached the dedication sermons at the newly formed Belknap Church. Text for the day was "Reverence My Sanctuary."

July 30, 1899 – Meeting of Consistory, it was resolved to grant Rev. L.W. Showers, pastor certificate. In addition: Also setting forth that after an investigation of the matter of an assault upon the person of one of our members, as scandalously rumored through the community, the Consistory finds no grounds whatsoever, of criminality or immorality and so ordered to be transferred in the minutes. Alfred Schreckengost, President. J.M. Schreckengost, Secretary. It was further ordered to publicly caution our members from further indulging in such tale-bearing gossip.


1900 to 1904 - Rev. C.W. Summy conducted services at the charge.

1904 to 1909 - Rev. D.I. Schaeffer pastored the charge. Resigned after approximately four years of service. It is interesting to note that his salary was $642.70 annually and on Sept. 27, 1909, trustees paid 50 cents to one of the members for wine for communion.

Nov. 25, 1909 - Rev. Moor preached funeral service during vacancy.

1910 through 1921 - At various times, Rev. Robert Bowling, pastor of St. Luke’s, Kittanning, held communion services.

1908 - The following family names appear on the record: Anthony, Barker, Baum, Bittinger, Boyer, Bussard, Cogley, Clever, Elwood, Elgin, Garner, Gerhold, Harris, Hill, Jones, Lauster, Moesta, McMillen, Ramer, Rearic, Schreckengost, Southworth, Sowers, Steffey, Stroup, Umbaugh, Uplinger, Wingard, and Yockey. Additional names 1908 to 1914 - Rev. B.F. Kline, Sheasley, Wampler, Garland, Markle, Peters, Rosenberger and Rev. Garner.

1909, 1910, 1911 and 1913 - Rev. W.H. Kershner, pastor, of St. Paul’s from 1894 to 1900, conducted several communion services.

Jan. 1, 1910 to 1915 - Rev. H.S. Garner pastored the charge. Lived in Dayton. Some records were lost during a fire at the parsonage.

Jun. 18, 1916 to Dec 31, 1921 - Rev. Lee O. Carbaugh ministered at the Salem/Belknap Charge. He was ordained Aug. 17, 1916 at the Salem Reformed Church by Rev. R.C. Bowling and Rev. Albert A. Black. He began his ministry at Apollo on Jan 1, 1922, then went to Rockwell on June 1, 1930. Later, he went to the South Bend Charge, beginning June 1, 1939. His last ministry started Jan. 15, 1942 at Rockingham Charge VA starting on Jan. 15, 1942. His wife Anna Ruth (Knouss) and daughter Gwendolyn were also active in the activities of the church. Gwen and husband Vernon Rupert have been faithful members of Salem. Rev. Carbaugh died on July 24, 1959, from a heart attack at his home, just prior to his planned retirement. He was born Oct. 15, 1889, and attended public school in Adams Co., Franklin and Marshall Academy, Gettysburg College and Lancaster Seminary. Burial took place at Arendtsville, Pa.

1917 to 1918 - World War I - Many local citizens were called to serve. Their service to our country was greatly appreciated.

May 5, 6 and 7, 1918 - According the "Rural Valley Advance" newspaper, May 8, 1918 issue:

"Last Sunday marked a gala epoch in the affairs of the Salem Reformed congregation when their church was re-dedicated to the service of Almighty God. The (Reformed) church was established more than one hundred years ago and (this group) first worshipped in the barn of the late Abraham Hill Sr., with Rev. Wise as its pastor, who rode horseback over a big circuit and preached there at long intervals. The Hills, Schrecengosts, Lausters, Kochs, Cogleys, Moestas, Sowers, Boyers, Uplingers, Klines, Wingards, Ramers, Gerholds, and scores of other families, many of whom have long since joined the church triumphant, worshipping there. The first church was erected under the pastorate of Rev. Snyder, which in 1881 was supplanted by the present building, Rev. Whitmore, pastor. Time has made inroad upon the 1881 structure and last Spring it was decided by the congregation that improvements should be made and the church be made adequate for its needs and modernized at least to an appreciable extent. These changes and improvements being made, last Sunday was set as the day for re-dedication."

"On Friday evening a preparatory service was held when Dr. Bowling, pastor of the Reformed church Kittanning, was present and preached an excellent sermon, and told of former visits here in early days of the church. Music was furnished by Misses Agnes McLaughlin, Margaret Brumbaugh, and Carletta Port. On Saturday evening Dr. and Mrs. Chas. Helliwell of the Rural Valley Presbyterian church were present and furnished delightful vocal music. Dr. Helliwell preached and the service throughout was thoroughly enjoyed by the goodly number present. On Sunday morning the church was crowded to the doors, many of whom were from a distance who had come back to renew old acquaintanship and join once more in service and song as the days of long ago. The pastor Rev. Lee Carbaugh, under whose guiding hand and able preaching is building up this congregation mightily, delivering a masterly sermon. His theme was 'Things as they are as over against things as they shall be,' from the text left upon record in Mark 9:35. 'If any man desires to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servants of all.' The music was supplied by Charles Port, Carl Port, Lynn Hoover, Agnes McLaughlin, Margaret Brumbaugh and Carletta Port."

"In behalf of the board of Trustees, Chairman William P. Lauster then addressed the audience, giving an expression of thanks to all who contributed so generously making possible the improvements. He also commended the women of the congregation for their faithfulness and helpfulness, and the ones who furnished such excellent music for all three services. The other Trustees are G.W. McMillen and J.N. Wingard. Money was then raised sufficient to pay all indebtedness and this happy congregation now begins the work of the Master anew, free of any material encumbrance."

"Rev. Carbaugh and his people are to be congratulated upon their splendid success. The church is beautifully situated, on the hill where two roads cross, and the cemetery adjoining where sleeps many of its former worshippers, is well kept with its luxuriant sward of green and bloom throughout the summer months, is a credit to the congregation and the reflection of kind memories of those who have gone before." (Ref.: Rural Valley Advance)

Fall of 1918 - The Spanish influenza reached epidemic proportions. The State Board of Health prohibited meetings of all kinds, including schools and churches. An emergency hospital was set up at the Yatesboro School, under the supervision of the coal companies. Oct. 23, 1918 the health officer reported 484 cases of influenza in the valley. Typhoid fever, diphtheria, scarlet fever, and polio were not uncommon. (Ref.: Arms. Co. History, 1980)

1922 - The bell was presented to the congregation by Jimmy Gallagher, a business man from Apollo, who had spent his boyhood days in this community. A service of dedication was conducted by Rev. Lee O. Carbaugh (father of Gwen (Carbaugh) Rupert). Hundreds of well wishers were present for this occasion.

Oct. 8, 1922 - six baptisms were performed by Rev. H. D. Darbaker.

1920’s - "The Zellman children always attended church and Sunday school at Salem. They lived at the bottom of the hill in Rose Valley. They would walk barefoot to the top of the hill and when they got near the church they would dust off their feet and put on their shoes. This would save wear and tear on the shoes, never mind the feet." This was one of Laura (Zellmann) Hepler’s favorite memories.

Salem UCC Church in 1922
A 1922 photo of Salem Church. Thanks to Carolyn Schreceongost for sharing this picture.

1924 - Rt. 85, from Kittanning to Rural Valley was improved. (Formerly known as Clearfield Pike, which was authorized Feb. 17, 1831, it was the first road in Cowanshannock Twp.)

May 27, 1928 to Sept. 2, 1928 - Rev. W.V.R. Seltzer (student supply).

May 26, 1929 to Sept. 1, 1929 - Rev. Augustine Welch (student supply).

1929 - Wall St. crashed, which marked the start of the Great Depression era.

1930 - Two acres of ground were purchased to be added to the cemetery. Later the "Hill’s" (Schaum) school site was obtained to enlarge the cemetery still more. This school, which some of our members attended, closed in 1948.

May 1, 1930 - Rev. Jacob Painter began his ministry at the Charge. He and his wife were active participants in all functions of the church.

Sept. 7th to 13th, 1931 - Fiftieth Jubilee celebrated by Salem Reformed Church, Rev. Jacob Painter, pastor. Mon: Home coming picnic, with evening festival by the Sunday School; Tues: 8 PM church service, sermon by Rev. S. Papajian, South Bend charge; Wed: 8 PM service, sermon by Rev. Lewis M. King, Freeburg, Pa.; Thurs: 7 PM service, sermon by Rev. J.E. McCall of Dayton, Pa.; Fri: 8 PM service, sermon by Rev. G.E. Letchworth, Dayton, Pa.; Sun: 2:30 PM, Holy Communion; Sun: 8 PM church service, Rev. Jacob Painter’s message "Forgetting Things That Are Past."

1937 - The congregation felt the need to build a basement under the church edifice to provide greater ease in caring for the furnace and provide a suitable place for social activities for the congregation. H.J. Beer was hired to build a new wall under the church and the men of the congregation once more joined in the labor of digging the space to provide the basement.

May 17, 1938 - After eight years as pastor, Rev. Jacob Painter offered his resignation to the Joint Consistory. It was through the efforts of Rev. Painter that the church family has grown steadily. He served many times as needed in the charge as interim pastor after his retirement and he and his wife continued to be involved with the church family. At the age of 93, he was made "Pastor Emeritus" at the Belknap Church in 1982.

June 26, 1938 - The church sanctuary was decorated with flowers and vines for the annual Children’s Day program. It was customary for recitations and short skits to be presented by the children. Lottie Ramer and Bessie Wingard and others were always involved in these programs.

July 19, 1938 - "Rev. Painter’s resignation to take effect when his call is passed by the Clarion Classis and accepted by the Somerset Classis."

August 23, 1938 - A Joint Consistory meeting was held at Salem. Rev. Gilbert of Apollo called the meeting to order.

Sept. 27, 1938 - At Joint Consistory meeting, the secretary was to offer $1,200 for a supply minister. Belknap and Salem would call for a supply preacher, since Mt. Union does not desire to come in the Salem Charge.

Dec. 2, 1938 - The Joint Consistory called Rev. R.C. Strine as supply pastor until the Classis accepted his call and notified him to move into the parsonage in Dayton. Motion was made by J.S. Crow, seconded by John Bittinger, "We as the board of Salem Charge have in mind that should we not get a fair treatment with the said Classis in reference of the case of Rev. R.C. Strine, we shall appeal the same to a higher tribunal." Also voted not to unite with Red Bank Charge.

Jan. 29, 1939 - At meeting of the Joint Consistory, Rev. J.J. Gilbert offered a suggestion to send a petition to Classis informing them that we will not accept any reorganization at this time. Petition signed.

Mar. 1, 1939 to Dec. 1953 - Rev. Raymond C. Strine began his ministry with his wife Catherine and daughter Mary. Rev. Strine was born on Apr. 6, 1905 in York, Pa. He attended York Co. Academy but transferred to Franklin and Marshall School when his family moved to Lancaster. He received a degree from Franklin and Marshall College in 1927 and in 1930 graduated from Lancaster Theological Seminary. He resigned his first charge in Maryland to return home when his father died suddenly. On Dec. 26, 1932, he married Catherine M. Ehleiter in the Seminary Chapel at Lancaster. The Strine’s only daughter Mary, who was in college when the family moved to Dorseyville, remembers the strawberry festivals most of all. Mary married William Slagle of Templeton and they have three sons, William, Raymond and David. She is a retired home economics teacher. This family’s role in maintaining the well being of the church family was much appreciated.

May 27, 1940 - At Joint Consistory meeting, Rev. Strine volunteered to give Eddyville Church some preaching services during the summer months. Eddyville church is to be exempt from any expenses on the parsonage until able to pay.

May 30, 1940 - The Salem church adopted a constitution at a congregational meeting. This constitution states the duties of the offices of the church. It also sets the time and place where the Consistory and congregational meetings should be held.

Dec. 18, 1940 - Joint Consistory raised minister’s yearly salary from $1,200 to $1,320.

1942-1945 - World War II, many members of Salem and surrounding area served with honor in the United States Military. Their service to our country is commendable. Some made the ultimate sacrifice.

June 24, 1942 - Contract with Blair and Clyde Cogley to paint the parsonage.

Jan. 17, 1943 - Wilbert Pinkerton entered into the service of our country and the pastor, Rev. Strine, will assume the duties of the recording secretary. Royden Clawson was appointed financial secretary.

July 15, 1943 - "Consistory in due consideration of the elevation of our beloved friend, David "Ed" Schrecengost from this earth to a higher reward in the spiritual life, left a vacancy in our midst. His unexpired term will be filled by Edward Kester." His wife, the former Bertha Catherine Southworth, and seven of their ten children survived him.

1944 - Mrs. Carrie McKinley was janitor (she lived across the road from church). She was responsible for keeping the coal furnace fired every day.

Feb. 1944 - The Consistory discussed the matter of a stairway to the basement. A fund box will be placed in the back of the church for donations. (The stairway was not completed until about 1950.)

Mar. 12, 1944 - Request was made to Pittsburgh Synod to make St. Paul’s Reformed Church a supply church.

Apr. 1944 - At Rev. Strine’s home, the Consistory accepted a gift of an illuminated cross which was presented to the church in loving memory of Mr. Stanley Sowers by his wife Edna. It was placed above the altar.

Apr. 18, 1945 - Evergreen trees were planted at the church and cemetery.

May 1945 - A motion was made to place a light to illuminate the church parking grounds, to discourage disturbances on the premises.

Oct. 1945 - Mr. Crow moved to purchase new hymnals to be used in the work of the Sunday school. This was seconded by Mr. White and carried. Mr. Sowers moved that we bond the treasurer for $500 to protect him in the case of fire or theft which might destroy the money in his hands at the time. Motion carried.

Dec. 1945: $12.50 remained after the purchase of new hymnals. It was decided to give this amount to World Emergency Service, to benefit this noble cause.

Sun. Mar. 17, 1946 - A form letter is to be sent to the members who need to realize their obligation and service that each should render. A challenge should go forth to the homes to make each individual realize the seriousness of the days in which the Christian church is facing.

Apr. 1946 - A building fund is to be started for the improvement of the walls and ceiling of the church by the Consistory.

May 1946 - It was decided that before any definite action can be taken in the matter of improvement to the church that 75% of the total cost should be in the hands of the treasurer. Congregational meeting is scheduled.

June 1946 - Consistory meeting: The following motion was made: "Since the cemetery fund has now reached the sum of $2,000.00, it has been decided that for the present said amounts that may be collected will be set aside for the purpose of purchasing added ground located by the church cemetery. The school ground is in the process of being sold, since it is no longer being used for school purposes. To contact the school board of Cowanshannock Twp. for the purpose of securing the first privilege for the same ground when it becomes available."

Oct. 6, 1946 – Worldwide Communion Day was observed.

1947 - The walls of the church having become badly cracked and broken, the congregation decided to re-plaster the Sanctuary. This work was completed and the new window facings and repainting of woodwork and furniture again made our church a beautiful spot for worship.

May 22, 1947 - Joint Consistory meeting was held. Mr. Clawson motioned and seconded by Mr. Crow, that the secretary write to St. Paul’s and Alcoa churches to pay Rev. Strine at least $15.00 a service or if that is not satisfactory to get a pastor of their own.

Summer 1947 - Florence (Stewart) Reesman recalls when the Salem youth put on a two-hour play. "Jean Kester and Isabelle Lasher made us practice until we all knew our lines. I played the mother; Jean put my hair up on top of my head and powdered it white. They made me wear old clothes and aged me so much that no one knew me. We were half way through the play before my neighbors Annie and Earl McElwain recognized me." Also, during another skit, Alfred Shick remembers the fun he had tying a string onto his fake beard, and throwing it across the stage while others were performing. He would jerk on the string to make it seem like a mouse. Mrs. Strine would get upset with him. She didn’t allow Mary to date any of the church boys.

The True Blue class was active and held many meetings at teacher Jessie Rumbaugh’s home. In later years, the youth continued to meet at various homes and had lots of fun in addition to learning the bible.

July 1947 - The painting and varnishing of the inside of the church, finishing the pews, the ceiling and the floors was completed for $512 by Blair Cogley and Norman Schrecengost. Plastering contract was for $670.40. Total cost of improvements and necessary wiring was $1,432.43.

Sun. Jan. 4, 1948 - At the afternoon service a special recognition was given to Mr. Fred Gerhold as "Elder Emeritus." The Consistory presented him with a beautiful bible as testimony of his faithful service to the Salem church.

June 25, 1948 - Church festival and supper held. These activities were held two or more times a year. Homemade ice cream was the favorite treat. We had our own 5-gallon freezer. Some of the men who worked for the Gas Company rigged a belt with a geared wheel to run this machine. Rev. Strine would challenge others to eat more ice cream than he could. It is said he could eat as many as 15 scoops at one sitting. The women were well known for serving delicious "church dinners," which attracted visitors from all over the area. Everyone co-operated in these fellowships.

Dec. 1948 - A request from Women’s Circle to place gas service in the basement. The Circle would stand the cost of installation and monthly gas bill. Request discussed.

Sept. 1949 - A report was made by W.A. Sowers stating that the school ground adjacent to the church cemetery was purchased for $225. It was decided to contact the Kline heirs, owners of the ground in back of the school for the purpose of purchasing it if possible.

Apr. 1950 - The well at the old school grounds will be made safe, pending further decision. Since the church had no well at this time, water had been hand pumped and carried for use at the church. Many remember this pump standing long after the school building was torn down.

June 1951 - Royden Clawson was asked to look into the matter of grading the new part of the cemetery, the church grounds and stones that lie behind the trees.

July 1951 - Permission was granted for St. Paul’s church to borrow our ice cream freezer, under the supervision of the men of Salem. This same freezer was gladly loaned to Belknap church for the purpose of making homemade ice cream.

Sept. 30, 1951 - Salem Reformed Church celebrated its 70th year in the present church edifice and 110 years from the beginning. Rev. Raymond C. Strine, pastor, conducted two services. At 2:30 PM, Rev. E.M. Dietrich D.D., president of the Pittsburgh Synod of the Evangelical and Reformed church preached a re-dedication service. A community service was held at 8 PM. Robert Boyer was in charge, with special music and greetings from former and neighboring ministers. Spiritually from a small beginning the church has grown steadily until we number 235 members. Sunday school, under the leadership of Robert Boyer, was active and progressive with an enrollment of 115. History booklets were distributed.

June 1952 - Mr. Kester moved that the Consistory give the Circle the privilege of having a festival or some social activity this fall for the purpose of raising money to pay for the drilling of the well at the church and other expenses that will arise from it. The Consistory will try and do what is possible to help in the success of this undertaking.

Sept. 1952 - A report was given on the completion of the drilling of the well at the church, also a pump and a hot water heater were placed in the basement. A vote of thanks was extended to the Circle for this wonderful project.

May 1953 - A project of building a protective covering over the front doors will be started as soon as possible. (New lights on the front were added in Oct. 1953.)

Nov. 1953 - Randall Steim reported the goal of the Home Mission Building fund was met, due to contributions from the Ladies Circle and Sunday School.

1951, 1952, and 1953 - Rev. Strine reports that over the past three years he has performed 27 baptisms and received 24 confirmed 8 transfers or re-profession of faith at Salem.

Dec. 1953 - Farewell was extended to Strine family, after 14 years of dedicated service to this community. Each members of this family contributed greatly to the service of this church. The pastor performed his duties well and his wife Catherine and daughter Mary provided music and teaching skills during Sunday school and Bible school. A great relationship was established with them. The Strines moved to a new charge in Dorseyville, Pa. and ministered there until 1966, when Rev. Strine became the pastor at First UCC in Manor, Westmoreland Co. He retired in 1979, and was elected "Pastor Emeritus" at Trinity UCC in Dorseyville. His work was finished on earth in 1980, when he joined the Lord.

Feb. 1, 1954 – Joint Consistory meeting. Rev. Black, President of the Pittsburgh Synod presented a petition from Alcoa Trinity Church to join with us. Vote was 12 no’s, 1 yes and 1 blank. Petition denied, but the new minister is to supply Alcoa, as did Rev. Strine.

June 1954 to Aug. 26, 1956 - Rev. Randall Heckman and his wife Doris began their ministry at Salem-Belknap Charge. They are the parents of two daughters. Mrs. Heckman played organ and piano for services. Rev. Gobrecht, her father, was also a minister.

June 1954 - Myron Hill organized a Junior Choir, to be directed by Mrs. James, and a new church sign was obtained. Rev. Heckman reported that money he receives for funerals and weddings would be turned over to the treasurer.

July 9, 1954 - A reception for Rev. Heckman and his family was held. The women prepared and served a meal and the members got acquainted with them.

Oct. 8, 1954 - James White reported that $1,056 has been pledged to the new organ. Consistory members always looked forward to monthly meetings when they were scheduled at the White’s home. The group enjoyed being served home made ice cream along with Ivy’s delicious fresh baked cake.

Nov. 1954 - After the purchase and installation of a new organ from Hudson Oaks, Salem’s old pump organ was donated to the Sunnyside Chapel.

Dec. 1954 - Congregational meeting to decide about inside restrooms. (108 - yes, 3 - no.) Moore’s will furnish supplies. New by-laws were also adopted.

Dec. 24, 1954 - Brady Dale Schrecongost was chosen to portray Baby Jesus in the "manger scene" at the annual Christmas Eve service.

Jan. 1955 - Due to the extreme cold weather, it was decided to pay the janitor an extra $10.00 per month to keep the fire in the church everyday. Orien Schrecengost was one of the persons in charge of keeping the building heated.

Apr. 1955 - Front doors repaired, a new sill and cover built over the front doors. New rest rooms were provided in the basement and the blue stain glass "memorial windows" were installed in the sanctuary. Claretta Bishop recalls that William Smith of Freeport installed the blue windows in the church. He and his wife stood for the Bishops at their wedding.

May 1955 - Two new communion plates and covers purchased. Young people plan to attend Camp Shadyside in Worthington, with 1/3 of the cost paid by church, 1/3 by Sunday school and 1/3 by student.

July 8, 1955 - At a joint meeting, hours for Sun. church services were discussed: Belknap would be a 9:30 am service with Salem and Alcoa alternating from 11:00 am to 2:30 pm. Also under discussion was our relationship with Eddyville and Alcoa.

Aug. 14, 1955 - Congregation approved holding services on daylight savings time. And changed services from as is, one week in the morning and the next week in the afternoon, to Sunday school at 10:00 am and Worship at 11:00 am each week.

Oct. 23, 1955 - Meeting of Spiritual Council for purpose of contacting in-active members before names being erased.

Dec. 18, 1955 - Rev. Heckman reported for the past 18 mos. - Burials: none; Baptisms: 29; Members received: 25; Members dismissed: 9; Sermons preached: 160; Weddings: none. Pastor’s salary raised $25.00 a mo.

May 12, 1956 - Permission for Jacob Harkelroad to paint the outside of church and outbuildings for $350.00. Women’s Opportunity Circle and Sunday school have donated $125.00 each toward the painting. Permission was also granted to secure Blair Cogley to paint the inside of the church.

June 17, 1956 - a service to celebrate 75 years in the present building was held. Rev. Randall Heckman presided. Other ministers present were Rev. Harvey Black, President of the Pittsburgh Synod, Rev. R.C. Strine and Rev. Jacob Painter. Organ prelude was "Bless this House" by Dorothy Lasher. The choir members were Betty Lou Cravener, Glenda Wiser, Donna Lee Schrecengost, Nadine Clawson, Patty Brown, and Elva Wiser. Their selection was "The Lord is My Shepherd."

July 26, 1956 - Congregation accepted the resignation of Rev. Heckman who transferred to Greensburg, Pa. Membership is listed at 244.

Sept. 1956 - Salary increased from $3,600 To $4,000 for a new minister.

Nov. 5, 1956 - A request was granted to the choir to hold a pie social in the social rooms as long as they do not auction their sales. Royden Clawson to have layout done in the new part of cemetery.

Sunday Nov. 18, 1956 - Replacing the current furnace with new oil or gas unit was discussed. Gas would require digging lines and acquisition of right of ways to the gas well. A decision was delayed pending the settlement of the Sefton estate.

Mar. 8, 1957 - The Consistory agreed to place the following restrictions on the new lots in the cemetery: All corner stones must be flush with the ground, no trees or bushes, graves must be level with flowers planted only next to headstones. Only the headstones are to be above ground.

April 11, 1957 - A card was read by Fred Lasher from the Sabbath School Assn. concerning our stand on horse racing with para-mutual betting. The question arose, "Should we voice a protest?" After a hand vote, the secretary was instructed to send a statement to Sen. Pechan that the Consistory of our church urges him to vote against this bill.

May 26, 1957 - Pulpit committee is able to offer $4,000 plus parsonage and utilities to any pastor who may be issued a call.

Aug. 18, 1957 - Joint ballot results for call to Rev. Fabian; yes 130, no 22.

Nov. 3, 1957 to 1963 - Rev. Eli Fabian answered call to Salem/Belknap charge. At the age of 89, Rev. Fabian and his wife Ruth celebrated 60 years in the ministry.

Nov. 8, 1957 - Salem Trustees agreed on perpetual care of the graves of Mr. and Mrs. James Sefton and of his parents’ graves.

Dec. 12, 1957 - The bequest from Sefton estate was received and finalized.

July 27, 1958 - Results of study committee: Most votes for: New altar cross, candles, pulpit chairs, new steps at front of church, new heating system, new floors, pews and carpet and pay Old Folks Home expansion fund and apportionment.

Fri. Sept. 5, 1958 - Special meeting held 8 pm at Salem Church - Pastor Fabian remarked that we were gathered to talk things over as Christians and requested that the people voice their opinion in a democratic way and work together on whatever the majority decide. Reports from study committees were discussed. $15,000 was set aside to fix up the front of church, with new floor and pews, in memory of the Seftons. $5,000 was set aside for cemetery perpetual care, with only the interest to be used.

Thurs. Jan. 29, 1958 – Congregational meeting was held at 8 pm to hear the financial reports from all organizations of the church.

Aug. 15, 1959 - Congregation voted 61 (yes) to 5 (no) to crack the Smith gas well. Cost about $700.

Nov. 1, 1959 - Congregation voted to purchase Eddyville’s shares of the parsonage. Salem and Belknap will each pay half ($350.00).

Jan. 27, 1960 - Rev. Fabian praised the congregation for their co-operation during the past year. Financial reports and members contributions were printed in the report and distributed. Motion was approved to remodel church sanctuary, front of sanctuary and purchase a new furnace as needed.

Mar. 27, 1960 - Voted to accept planning committee recommendations. Total $12,604.75.

Apr. 24, 1960 - Planning committee given permission to secure plans for the erection of Sunday school rooms. Mr. McKelvey will draw up plans.

1960 - The remodeling was done under the supervision of the following Planning committee: Lawson Schrecengost, Blair Cogley, from the Consistory, Randall Steim from the Sunday School, Mrs. Ruth Fabian and Mrs. Mabel Babel from the Guild, Mrs. Viola Wiser and Mrs. Ilene Cogley from the Opportunity Circle and Mrs. Ruth Schrecengost from the congregation, along with Rev. Eli Fabian.

The work was started in the fall of 1960 and completed in the summer of 1961. The Sanctuary was remodeled: New pews, hardwood floors, an arched chancel, lowered ceiling and new carpeting added. A new belfry was another addition, as were the Sunday school rooms to the left of the Sanctuary. The basement was enlarged and painted, also a new oil furnace was installed. The installation of new sidewalks completed the work. The committee and all who helped in any way should be congratulated for a job well done. Mr. Lou McKelvey of Rural Valley Lumber was the contractor.

The funds for this complete remodeling were made possible by a bequest received from the Lida B. (Schrecengost) Sefton estate (both she and her husband James Sefton are buried at the Salem cemetery). In appreciation, a memorial was purchased consisting of a brass cross and candleholder set which were suitably engraved.

1961 - The church kitchen was remodeled and new stoves places therein. This project was under the supervision of the Women’s Guild and the Opportunity Circle.

Jan. 26, 1961 - Rev. Fabian reported 15 baptisms, 17 confirmed members, 3 funerals, and 6 weddings for past year.

June 16, 1961 - Rev. Fabian’s confirmation class was Charles Lindy Bowser, Samuel Robert Neal, Ace Orv Patrick and Virginia Irene Patrick.

Sept. 1961 - Crack in platform of back porch discussed. Mr. McKelvey states nothing can be done to repair it.

Sept. 10, 1961 - Salem’s One Hundred and Twentieth Anniversary and re-dedication service was held. The pastor, Rev. Eli Fabian, led the morning services. During the morning services, Lawson L. Schrecengost, Vice President of the Consistory and chairman of the Planning Committee, presented the Building for Dedication. The guest speaker was Dr. Harvey W. Black, President of the Pittsburgh Synod. A basket lunch was served at noon in the recreation room of the church. Afternoon services were held at 2:30 o’clock. Rev. Randall L. Heckman, Greensburg, Pa. and Rev. Jacob Painter, Dayton, Pa. former pastors were guest speakers. A basket lunch was also served in the evening. The celebration was concluded with services at 8:00 pm, when Rev. Raymond C. Strine, Dorseyville, Pa., also a former pastor, was the guest speaker. The present church membership in 1961 was 231. The church school enrollment was 179, with an average attendance of 126.

Jan. 25, 1962 - Report from Rev. Fabian for past year: 16 baptisms, 4 funerals, 7 confirmations, and 5 weddings. It was suggested that the spiritual council should contact members before taken off the rolls. This is to be done by letter. Amounts of member's contributions will not be printed on future reports. An organ committee consisting of Mrs. Fabian, Dorothy Ridenour and Charles Dill was established.

Mar. 9, 1962 - Permission granted for Guild to put another double door between the old and new basement, if they will bear the expense.

Jan. 31, 1963 - Pastor’s report includes 9 baptisms, 6 confirmations, 7 funerals, one of which was a member. 220 members were reported to synod. Pledges were solicited for organ fund. Organ needed for Music festival this June.

Apr. 7, 1963 - Congregation agreed to buy Hammond organ.

May 26, 1963 - Joint vote to increase minister’s salary $500. Salem to pay $300 with Belknap’s share $200. Vote was rejected.

July 28, 1963 - Meeting called by Pres. Rev. Fabian for planning the addition of new kitchen cupboards.

Nov. 15, 1963 – Rev. Eli Fabian resigned and he and his wife Ruth went to Mifflinburg charge after six years of ministry. Two sons, Ronald and Charles and a daughter Miriam make up this family. Membership was at its highest and an excellent relationship was maintained during their stay with us.

Dec. 29, 1963 - The pulpit committee are as follows: Jake Harkelroad, James White, Blair Cogley and Lawrence Hill. Salary offered will be $4500 plus insurance and hospitalization and $250 car allowance.

Jan. 30, 1964 - By-laws were read by Randall Steim, that states before becoming an elder, you must serve as deacon first. Motion carried to allow a person, if elected, to serve as elder without first serving as deacon. (See minutes of Mar. 1, 1964.) Also voted to give Mr. Edward Bean, supply minister from Transylvania Bible School, $25 per Sunday. He served approximately six months. Mr. Bean went on to graduate from Anderson College and now lives in Telford, Pa.

Mar. 1, 1964 - Consistory recommends we leave by-laws as they are. Received 23 votes to leave as are. Received 49 voted to adopt recommendation of member of congregation on Jan. 30, 1964, to allow persons, if elected, to serve as elder who has not previously been a Deacon. Also voted to sell Rosenberger wells.

Apr. 10, 1964 - Charles Dill was instructed to buy a safe from the school for $25.

May 31, 1964 - Salem and Belknap combined results to accept Rev. Sarrio: 121 - yes, 36 - no, 5 - blanks. Rev. A.H. Sarrio and wife Carrie came from the Berlin Charge. (Pastored from June 1964 to 1967.)

Oct. 8, 1964 - After ministering for only a few months, it was decided to let Mrs. Carrie Sarrio fill the pulpit until Rev. Sarrio is able to come back to work. She later became a licensed minister.

Jan. 8, 1965 - Trustee Fred Ridenour reported the Beck wells 1, 2 and 3 were disconnected. Later sold for $800.

Jan. 31, 1965 - Joint Consistory agreed to let the each church decide how to help pay the unpaid balance of hospital bill of the pastor. Salem will set aside a Sunday’s loose offering for this purpose. Sunday school members also will take up offering.

Feb. 12, 1965 - Fred and Dotty Ridenour and Joe and Claretta Bishop were selected as youth sponsors. Laird Shetler, the Ridenours and Dwight McKinley held these positions last year.

Apr. 24, 1966 - Congregation voted to sell a small piece of land owned by the church. No other details are available.

June 19, 1966 - Those attending the June meeting at Huntington are Merle Schrecengost, Rev. Sarrio and Ruth Ann Shetler. An auto accident occurred and Ruth Ann lost her life. She was a dedicated young Christian who was called home to be with her Lord much too soon.

July 30, 1967 - Congregation approved buying the Kline property that joins the church ground, consisting of around 38 acres. 80 - yes, 4 - no, 1 blank.

Aug. 16, 1967 - Rev. Kinard preached a service to dedicate the new pulpit furniture with the assistance of Rev. Sarrio. Fellowship followed and the Ladies Circle served an evening meal.

1967 - Rev. Sarrio and wife Carrie leave the area. Later sends letter asking to return to our congregation, but no further action was taken by the Consistory.

1967 to 1968 - Services were conducted by interim pastors, Rev. Jacob Troutman of Smicksburg and retired minister Rev. Jacob Painter of Dayton. Rev. Troutman, a Lutheran minister, is remembered for saying "if I can’t get my message across in ten minutes, a longer sermon will not serve any purpose".

July 14, 1968 - Salem and Belknap congregations voted on selling the Dayton parsonage. Combined results: 71 yes and 51 no. Parsonage sold to Robert and Linda Cook for $5,200 with half ($2,600) to Belknap and half ($2,600) to Salem.

1968 and 1969 - Johnnie Lengel, student pastor, ministered during two summers before becoming our full-time minister.

May 1, 1969 - The annual mother and daughter banquet was served by Mt. Zion U.P. Church. The theme was "My Mother’s Bible" with toastmistress Mrs. Ilene Cogley. Others taking part were: Ruth Schrecengost, Connie Dill, Dorothy Ridenour, Linda Bishop, Gloria Demich, Andrea and Laurie Schrecengost, Carole Cogley, Karen Smathers, Mabel Bable, Janice Cable, Eunice Schingary, Patsy Dill, Viola Cessna, Donna Wood and Gloria Hischuck. Pine tree seedlings were given to those attending.

Sun. June 14, 1970 - Rev. Johnnie W. Lengel, from Yukon, Pa. was ordained. A graduate of South Huntington Twp. High School, he received his B. A. degree from Catawba College, Salisbury, N.C. in 1967. He was awarded the Master of Divinity degree from Lancaster Theological Seminary. He then began his seven years of full-time ministry at Salem-Belknap charge. "Whether we are situated on the 'Hill' or at the 'Fork of the Road' let us be about doing the best we can for the Lord and his people" -- Johnnie.

Sept. 27, 1970 - Congregation voted to sell McIntire, Blanchard, Brown, and a block of wells behind Charles Dill’s property. (Too costly to plug or repair.)

Jan 28, 1971 - Annual meeting. Rev. Lengel showed slides of the youth activities and his ordination and installation. The Youth group was re-organized and have adopted a child in need and helped a needy family at Christmas. He explained where the OCWM benevolence money was used.

Apr. 18, 1971 - Rev. Paul Westcoat Jr. was nominated for Penn West Conference Minister to replace Rev. Horace Sills, who resigned this post to become Vice President for the Development of the Lancaster Theological Seminary. Dr. Paul Shumaker has been named "Pastor of the Aging" at St. Paul’s Homes, Greenville. He retired as Penn West Conference Minister in 1968.

Jan 27, 1972 - Congregational meeting. Rev. Lengel reported that the Women’s Fellowship and the Opportunity Circle have joined together as one organization, now known as Women’s Circle. He also stressed our mission outside the church. Rev. Richard Seigfried from the Clarion Association also attended and offered assistance.

Nov. 24, 1973 - Johnnie and Elaine Williams were married at Salem. The Lengels moved into their new residence in Snyderville in June 1974. Volunteers helped them paint and move. They attended a two-week seminar at Morgantown, W. Va. During 1974/75, at Salem, Rev. Lengel participated in 15 baptisms, 3 weddings, 11 confirmations, 3 re-profession of faith, and 2 funerals. During 1976/77, 5 baptisms, 9 confirmations, 2 re-professions of faith, 5 weddings, and 6 funerals.

Sun. Sept. 14, 1975 - Salem and Belknap churches observed their 125th anniversary. The Rev. Johnnie W. Lengel, pastor of the churches, conducted services. The afternoon celebration at Salem included an "old fashioned hymn sing" followed by a pageant of history and covered dish dinner. Rev. Eli Fabian, former pastor of the charge, delivered the sermon. History booklets were given.

1977 - As Rev. Lengel ended his ministry here, he noted, "We have many fond memories." "We leave part of our hearts with the people of Salem/Belknap Charge, but we take part of all your hearts with us. So we are not poorer, by the move, we are richer." "May you always be bearable, tolerable and lovable." Johnnie and Elaine moved to Richland, in Eastern Pa. where they have ministered at the UCC church for the past 24 years. The Lengels are frequent guests at Salem where Elaine’s mother, Ruth Williams, is still active. It is always good to reminisce with them when they visit. Johnnie’s familiar voice can be heard, each time he attends our services.

1977 to July 31, 1981 - Rev. Martin L. Parker became the minister. His wife Jean joined him.

Sun. May 27, 1979 - Salem's confirmation class was introduced by Rev. Parker, asked questions about the Bible and their faith and recommended them to be accepted as members. After worship on Sun. June 3rd there was a reception to honor our ten new members. Other services included 13 baptisms, 6 weddings, 9 funerals and 16 members were received at Salem. The Parkers retired in Rockwell, N.C. Joe and Claretta Bishop visited them in 1985.

1980-81 - Green carpet replaced the worn red carpet and a new roof and vinyl siding were added to provide for lower maintenance of the wooden structure. (Regrettably, original architectural designs were covered over or removed.)

September 1982 - A special worship service was held at Belknap, honoring Rev. Jacob Painter, at age of 93, and conferred upon him the title of "Pastor Emeritus."

1982 to 1984 - Rev. Elwood Williams was called. The service of installation was held at Salem on Jan. 31, 1982. Those taking part in the ceremony were Liturgists Harriet Summerville and Rev. Eli Fabian; Rev. Paul Westcoat Jr., Penn West Conference Minister gave the sermon; with installation by Rev. Christine Nelson, Clarion Assn. Representing the parish were Consistory members Blair Cogley from Salem and Jay Lloyd from Belknap. Fellowship followed the service. His charismatic style was not compatible with the traditional way our congregation worshipped. When he left, he formed an independent church in Rural Valley and some of our members followed.

1984 to 1985 - Mr. Kenneth Tack, licensed minister, supplied our pulpit. He was well liked and quite capable, but Synod allowed him to stay only one year. He and his wife Maxine are members of Christian Motorcycle Assn. and we annually support their Run for the Son ministry. He is also owner of Sugarcreek Rest near Worthington, Pa.

1984 to 1986 - Rev. Dale Eugene Boyer, retired minister, supplied for two years. Dale’s attitude helped many with personal problems through illnesses and grief. In 1987, he and wife Grace donated pew Bibles for both Salem and Belknap. Rev. Boyer also supplied the charge at various times during 1991 to 1993. Both were very active at their "tree farm." One of their hobbies was collecting seeds of various types and planting all kinds of flowers. Eventually, they sold their property and moved closer to family. A favorite sermon was based on the poem "Stand by the Door." A memorial service Honoring the Life and Ministry of Rev. Boyer was held on Jan. 22, 1999 at St. Luke’s UCC in Kittanning, with Rev. John Snyder, Rev. Richard Seigfried and Mr. Sam Swick conducting the service. Mrs. Nancy Dunmire presented a tribute of classical music on the organ.

Nov. 9, 1986 to May 15, 1991 - Rev. Cynthia Wilder came to the Charge in 1986. She was the first woman minister called to these churches. For nearly five years, she handled the duties as the pastor. "A History of the Evangelical and Reformed Church" was one of the reference books she donated. She believes, "Churches are people, not buildings, it is our caring, our fellowship, our ministry and our service." "God has given us all unique gifts to be employed to serve in the world as His disciples in God’s name." During her tenure, Salem hosted "The Family Life Workshop", with Ken Ostermiller. Originally from Massachusetts, she returned there in 1991.

1991 to 1995 - Supply ministers during this time included Rev. Chester Brachman, Ken Tack, licensed minister, Rev. Dale Boyer and Ruth "Pepper" Petsinger.

July 15-21, 1993 - Local retired pastor Rev. Dale E. Boyer is a delegate to the Penn West Conference of the United Church of Christ at the week-long sessions of the General Synod XIX, meeting in St. Louis, Mo. Although the General Synod XIX votes on numerous most difficult issues, the rule by congregations in the UCC makes every congregation autonomous. This means each congregation may consider actions of the General Synod as guidelines for each local church but not necessarily binding.

May 28, 1994 - Excerpt from Leader Times article: Forester Returns to his Roots: He will serve Salem-Belknap as summer supply pastor. "I want to serve Christ, our Lord, as a pastor in a rural church. I left rural America four years ago thinking I was never going back. Now, I want nothing less than to return to give back all they have given me. I want to use my education to edify a new generation of rural Americans."

1995 to Dec. 31, 1998 - Rev. Randall J. Forester became the full-time minister of the Salem/Belknap Charge. He is a product of the area, graduating from Kittanning Senior High School as salutatorian in 1988 before matriculating at the Univ. of Penna., where he graduated in 1992 with a B.A. degree in international relations. During his time at Penn, Randall realized his call was not to the global community, but to the agricultural community in which he was raised and matured. His home congregation is St. Paul’s UCC near Rural Valley which has endorsed his ministry endeavors. He was a 1995 graduate of Yale University Divinity School. His ordination was at St. Paul’s, his home church, on June 18, 1995. During his tenure at Salem, he performed 9 baptisms, 7 marriages, 23 funerals and confirmed 7 members. He and Kathy Jones were married on April 23, 1999 and they now reside in Williamsville, N. Y., where Pastor Randall was called to minister.

1995 - Shrubs, flowering bushes and dogwood trees were planted around the front of the church and dedicated to the memory of Charles Schingary, L. Melba Calhoun, Levi and Catherine Cogley, Clyde and Fannie Cogley, Blair and Ilene Cogley, Roger Goldstrohm, Martha and J. Harl Schrecengost, the Peters family, and many others unspecified donations.

Nov. 8, 1998 - Ruth Gamble was baptized and joined our fellowship. She recalls the times in 1995 when she and husband Roy first started to attend service at Salem. Everyone made them feel welcome. Ruth is currently a member of the Consistory and a willing volunteer when needed.

1998 - The walls were again painted and a bequest from the Mrs. Jacob (Beulah) Harkelroad estate allowed us to have the sanctuary pews upholstered.

1998 - Salem congregation participated in Operation Carelift - Aid to the old Soviet Union. One of the most energetic volunteers was Joey Payne, a resident of Punxsutawney, who became a staff member of Operation Carelift and the Josh McDowell Ministry. Ms. Payne has been actively supporting the ministry by speaking in churches throughout the area. Carepacks and hunger boxes are distributed from a warehouse in Lancaster. The Jamie Shick family have assisted with this mission. With the opening of areas formerly closed to missionaries and others that would help the children, Operation Carelift is welcomed in Russia.

1999 - New hymnals were purchased to honor the memory of Mrs. Edward (Jean) Kester and many others who provided funds. Jean was always interested in keeping the older hymnals in good condition, repairing them as needed. Front entrance doors were installed to honor the memory of M. Lorraine Steim, given by her husband, Randall. Over the years, many other memorial gifts have been given and greatly appreciated.

Mar. 1999 to May 2000 – Student pastor Frank Sapp Jr. supplied our pulpit during his last two years at the Pittsburgh Seminary. Although a student, he delivered sermons mature in nature and lead the congregation with his talented singing voice. He worked well with the youth group and attended regional events with them. Since the beginning, Salem has welcomed student pastors. Their spiritual energy usually is highest while still in the learning process. Salem has proved an effective training experience. May 14, 2000, he was ordained at Sugarcreek U.C.C., where his father was pastor. After his ordination he accepted a full-time position at the James Creek Charge near Altoona.

May 2000 to present - Our charge is currently vacant. Rev. Richard Seigfried, Ass’t Conference minister, has conducted communion services. Rev. Seigfried recalls, when he was pastor of the Sugarcreek Charge, bringing his youth choir to Salem to perform "Tell it like it is."

Mr. Todd Marino is currently supplying the pulpit. Mr. Marino is also involved with a Christian radio program in Indiana and owns the Homestead Store in Smicksburg. In 1984 he received a Communications/Media degree from Indiana University of Pa. Attendance at church services is increasing and young families are again becoming a familiar sight on Sundays.

2000/2001 - A former resident, Ruby C. Stroupe, endowed Salem with a monetary gift enabling the church to begin major restoration and maintenance projects. Sidewalks were replaced by Wilmer Goldstrohm, a new furnace was installed by Rosenberger HVAC, and storage shed was added to the back. Kitchen remodeling was done and custom cabinets were installed.

Salem UCC Church in 2001
This photo of Salem Church was taken in 2001. Thanks to Carolyn Schreceongost for sharing this picture.

2001 - We have listed many material accomplishments, but what have we been doing spiritually during these years? From a very small beginning the church had grown steadily to a membership of 231 in 1961, when we celebrated our 120th anniversary. Our Sunday school under the leadership of Randall Steim in that year had an active enrollment of 161. Classes were provided for all age groups from the cradle roll to the adult. In the 1970’s many of our young people, after being educated in various colleges, relocated for economic reasons, thus a generation of young families is associated elsewhere.

Recently Randall Steim has again taken the office of Superintendent of the Sunday school. He and Viola Cessna are working hard to make it grow. Mary Lou Cogley and Norma Shick are in charge of the younger children.

Vacation Bible School has been held annually, sometime in co-operation with Pleasant Union Lutheran Church. "Passport to the Holy Land" and "Kingdom of the Son" are themes used in recent years. When Pleasant Union church burned in a tragic fire in the 1990’s both congregations worshipped at Salem until their new building was completed.

Members of the Junior Church under the direction of Mary Lou Cogley and Norma Shick prepare something special for the Lenten Fair each year. This year, with the help of Missy Clark and Renee Williams the theme was "Journey into Faith 2001." The group made "2001" anniversary tee shirts for this program. Easter Sunrise services have been held alternately at Salem and Belknap, with breakfast served following the service. Annually, various families participate in the lighting of the Advent candles and the congregation takes part in "Hanging of the Greens." Christmas Eve candle-lighting services are always special.

A "Secret Pal" program was set up by the primary students. Names were drawn and at special occasions a card or gift was given. After one year, a luncheon was held and names were revealed. This was very successful in acquainting the older generations with the youngsters. Many of our young people have attended Living Waters Camp at Bedford. In 1996, Pastor Forester accompanied the youth group to the national Youth Event at the University of South Carolina. In 1999, Pastor Sapp escorted several youth to Reading for a youth rally. Several times in the past few years, bus loads of youth and their families have enjoyed fellowship trips to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Pirates and Kennywood.

During the pastorate of Rev. Forester, a committee from five area churches was formed. Salem, Belknap, Pleasant Union, Jerusalem and Rural Valley Lutheran churches participated. Many proposals were discussed, regarding the decline in membership and the need for ordained pastors for these congregations, three of which were vacant. Several picnics and fellowships among the "five churches" were held, with Rev. Richard Seigfried and the Lutheran Bishop attending. It seemed to be the consensus of the majority, even though they enjoyed the get-togethers, that there was no interest in consolidating, which would mean closing some or all of the churches.

Among the charitable projects sponsored are: Regular thank offerings which are designated to Havin, a women’s shelter, the local Red Cross, Helping Hand, Firefighters, Joey Payne fund, or other worthwhile charities. Holy Communion is held periodically and shut-ins are visited and given home communion.

Numerous weddings have taken place in the sanctuary. According to Rev. Fabian, the 1954 wedding of Stan and Faynell was the first formal one held at Salem. Spencer relates jokingly about having second thoughts as he and his best man approached the church on his wedding day. Betty and Ray have been faithful members for years and can be counted on when needed (especially when the ice cream was being made). All those pictured have over 40 years of marriage. [Pictures in original text are of Stan and Faynell (Webb) Zorich, married in 1954; C. Spencer and Donna Lee (Schrecengost) Colton, married in 1958; and Ray and Betty Lou (Cravener) Kimpel, married in 1959.]

Baptisms are a sacrament and new members are always welcomed into the church family. Some enter by confirmation of faith after completing classes, others by re-profession of faith, or transfer of letter. Apr. 22, 2001, Rev. Richard Seigfreid, Assistant Penn West Conference minister, conducted five baptisms and received fifteen new devoted members. The Salem congregation has vowed to assist with their well being and welcomes them into the service of God.

Currently, the members are blessed to have a young man who has extensive knowledge of the Bible and its teachings. Although Mr. Todd Marino is not an ordained minister, he has inspired us with his spiritual messages.

Over the many years of Salem’s existence, ministers have come and gone. Some have left a lasting impression on the congregations. No matter what obstacles have been encountered, Salem has endured, hopefully with a greater knowledge and faithfulness to the Spirit of God.