Shortly after the founding of the village of Emmitsburg by William Emmit, the Lutheran and German Reformed churches shared services in a log church at Tom's Creek; this was in 1768. In 1797 a new union church was erected in Emmitsburg.

Thomas Mawell purchased this ground from Samuel Emmit in 1795. The German Reformed congregation, utilizing the building (now the site of Elias Evangelical Lutheran Church) on alternate Sundays with the Lutheran congregation, was served by several dedicated clergymen in the early years. One of the earliest recorded charges was formed in 1820 under the pastorate of the Rev. J. William Runkel and consisted of six congregations: Emmitsburg, Taneytown, Haok's (Haugh's), Apple's, Gettysburg and Mark's. Services were conducted completely or partially in German until 1826 when the liturgy became entirely English.

By 1824 the new pastor, Rev. David Bosler, was ministering to eight congregations: Emmitsburg, Creagerstown, Herbach's ( Harbaugh's), Apple's, Woodsboro, Rocky Hill, Gettysburg, and Millerstown (Fairfield). In 1884 the German Reformed church became a charge by itself. The single congregation church remained the norm until 1958 when a new charge was formed with St. James Church near Littlestown.

In 1867 Joshua Motter, elder and treasurer of the Consistory, has secured the title to property called the John Nickum property. He offered the land, which is the location of our present church, to the congregation for the sum of $800.00. On September 8, 1967, the Consistory resolved to purchase the property for the building of our new church. In July 1868 work began on the construction of the church, for the estimated sum of $5,000.00.

On August 1, 1868 the church was officially named Church of the Incarnation. On this date the cornerstone was laid with the following enclosures: a Bible, hymnbook, catechism, order of worship and constitution of the German Reformed Church in the United States, copies of the proceedings of the General Synod of 1866 and the Eastern Synod; a copy of the Reformed Church Messenger and the Treasury; a children's paper, a history of the Emmitsburg congregation, including actions relative to the new building; one each of one-, three-, and five-cent pieces, as well as a ten- and a twenty-five cent United States fractional currency note; and the names of the architect, builder and church.

On July 31, 1869 the church was consecrated. Joshua and Harriet Motter officially deeded over the property on which the building was erected to the trustees of the church on January 1, 1870.

In April 1873, Rev. Abner Kremer was elected pastor of Incarnation Church. Just after the beginning of his pastorate, the spire of the church was thrown to the ground during a severe storm damaging the church itself, but not harming the bell. It was Rev. Kremer who was responsible for the creation of "Mountain View Cemetery" and the selling of lots in 1881.

In 1884 after the Emmitsburg congregation had established itself as a charge, independent of the other churches, the question came up of obtaining a parsonage. In 1885 the trustees of a property on West Main Street turned over the deed to the Incarnation church. This property remains today the property of Incarnation Church and serves as its parsonage. It is without a doubt one of the nicest properties in the town, having been completely renovated within the past five years.

On January 19, 1913, the Rev. Elnathan Lewis Higbee was elected pastor. It was during his pastorate that the Evangelical Synod of North America and the Reformed Church of the United States united and the church became the Church of the Incarnation Evangelical and Reformed Church. Rev. Higbee served as pastor for over thirty years until his death in 1942.

Rev. Edmund P. Welker was installed as pastor in November 1943. On February 26, 1950, fire completely destroyed the church building, leaving only the exterior walls standing. Stunned, but not undaunted the congregation held services in the parsonage. Trinity Methodist Church in Emmitsburg made their church available to Incarnation for services also. At a cost of $22,812.00 our church was rebuilt and dedicated at special services during March 1951, one year and one month after the fire.

In 1958 St. James Evangelical and Reformed Church near Littlestown, Pa agreed to join in a parish relationship with the Emmitsburg congregation and Rev. John C. Chatlos was installed as pastor of the joint charge in July of 1959. In 1957 the Evangelical and Reformed churches and the Congregational Christian churches merged to form the United Church of Christ. In 1959 the Emmitsburg congregation adopted the name of Incarnation United Church of Christ and the logo under the headlines became the official symbol of the United Church of Christ.

The Incarnation United Church of Christ hosted the first cooperative Communion service in the history of Emmitsburg on March 2, 1966. 121 members from all the Protestant churches of town partook of the celebration of the Lord's Supper around a common table. It was in October of that same year that a proposal was made at a meeting of church leaders for a Council of Churches. This proposal became a reality in 1967 and the Emmitsburg Council of Churches continues to serve the community as an effective Christian witness.

In June of 1968, after several years of discussion, planning and fund-raising of nearly $5,000.00, construction was begun for a fellowship hall and educational building which provided additional space for the activities of the congregation. Rev. Chatlos served as pastor at Incarnation UCC until June 1984 when he retired.

Current History

Today, Incarnation is a small, older congregation with approximately 65 members, of which 50% are retired. The congregation can be pictured as a loving family unit, where everyone cares for the health and well-being of one another, and closeness exists between members of all ages. Whether a situation is a joyous occasion or one of sorrow, support thrives within the walls of our church. With the addition of a monthly fellowship hour and an occasional breakfast, Incarnation unites together as a church family to focus on their faith in Christ, and their love for their church and its future.

Incarnation  had an interim pastor, Rev. Theodore Haas, since the fall of 2001 until 2007. Our previous minister, Rev. Margaret Dodds, retired in July 2001.  Our current pastor is Rev Katie Penick.

Our main asset at Incarnation is its musical program; we have a dedicated choir and a congregation that loves to sing. The church houses a well-maintained pipe organ with chimes, and the beautiful music embraces all who enter our sanctuary.

After many years without a Sunday School program, classes were re-established five years ago. Since the group fluctuates between 2 and 10 attendees and ranges in age 4 to 12, a multi-age curriculum entitled, The Whole People of God best serves our needs. They support local and mission projects, and serve in the capacity as lay leaders. They bring joy and laughter to a caring congregation.

Incarnation actively participates in the ecumenical movement within the Emmitsburg community. Representatives from the congregation, as well as the minister, attend regular meetings and provide assistance in planning special events, which are well-attended and supported. Currently, the president of the Emmitsburg Council of Churches is a member of Incarnation UCC.

We at Incarnation United Church of Christ are committed to working as a team to grow and prosper in the name of Jesus Christ.

Read the Histories of Other Churches in Emmitsburg