For where two or three come together in my
name, there am I with them. Matthew 18:20
A Lutheran congregation was organized on
July 22, 1851. The first church cornerstone was laid April 27, 1852
and the church was dedicated October 24, 1852. Jacob Maring Sr., the
donor of the ground, died July 13, 1852. The transfer of the deed
had not yet been completed and his widow, Anna Margaret, signed the
deed by making her "mark". The deed dated January 28, 1854 records
one acre and 26 perches of land from Jacob Maring to Christian K.
Shriver and Abraham Waybright as Trustees for the Mt. Joy Church. An
Indenture dated April 10, 1883, describes a transaction relative to
one acre and 16 perches (parsonage and lot) located between George
Maring and wife and Mt. Joy Church Council.
A third deed dated May 28, 1887 for 80
perches of land was signed by Edwin H. Benner and wife, John
Sharetts and wife, also Jacob E. Sharetts and wife as executors of
the Matilda B. Spangler (Mrs. Jonas Spangler) estate. In 1916, Edwin
H. Benner provided some additional land for the cemetery.
This first church was destroyed by fire on
March 2nd, 1890. Just as the pastor, Rev. Howard M. Heilman,
announced his text, it was discovered that the edifice was on fire.
The strong March winds fanned the flames. Nothing was saved except
the organ and a Bible. A congregational meeting was called on the
3rd of March to decide if the old church should be repaired or a new
one erected. The congregation proceeded at once to rebuild.
The lumber came from a northern county in
Pennsylvania and was brought by boat down the Susquehanna River to
Wrightsville. From there it was hauled by horse and wagon to the
church site. Many of the old bricks were used for the inner walls of
The new bricks were made on the McQuigan
Farm about two miles away. The total cost of the new church was
$4,531.34. After many generous subscriptions, the sale of old
lumber, collection of $1,000. of insurance, and a donation of money
raised by the Ladies Aid Society, there was a balance of only $39.44
left to pay to clear the debt of rebuilding. In addition, much
hauling and labor was done gratuitously by the members. The corner
stone was laid June 15th, 1890 and the church was dedicated on
November 30, 1890.
It was also during the pastorate of Rev.
Heilman that 38 of the members were dismissed from Mt. Joy Church in
order to form the St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church of Harney,
Maryland. This church was to be a part of the Mt. Joy Charge. Ever
since then the minister called would serve both churches.
The parsonage is located directly across the
Taneytown Road from the church. Built in 1880 at the cost of
$1,900.00 it was 24 feet by 44 feet in size. The 56,000 clay bricks
for the home came from the John Waybright farm.
Back of the parsonage was a picnic grove,
not belonging to the church, where many functions took place. Many
referred to this as Benner's Woods or Benner's Grove. At one time
the buildings were owned by the Barlow Community Association which
dissolved sometime in the 40's. The buildings were then sold to Mr.
Charles Benner, the owner of the land.
The Barlow Community Picnic and Fair was
always held at Benner's Grove in August. It was like a little
country fair with all kinds of livestock and chickens. Sometimes a
few of us boys would stay all night to tend the animals. While we
were there at night we would raid the sandwich building. During the
Fair there were all kinds of eats and amusements. I liked the "Milk
Bottle Pitch" and "Duck Willy", where you would pitch a ball and
duck someone in the water to win a candy bar or a cigar. Farm
machinery was displayed by John Deere brought by Donald Scott,
International Harvester brought by Ellis Schwartz and Allis Chalmers
brought by Harry Stambaugh of Spring Grove. This was just one of the
events held in the grove besides many church picnics and family
The first Sunday after I came to the
Geiselman home, Mother said, "We are going to Sunday School and
church." I didn't have many good clothes for Sunday School, but they
soon dressed me up to go. Sometimes we would take the horse and
buggy and later years the Buick Coupe. It was an open car and I
liked it very much.
Here I got acquainted with the other
children in the Sunday School. They all made me feel welcome. My
foster parents brought me up in the nurture and admonition of the
Lord. They put my feet on a solid rock. That rock is Christ Jesus.
Later I took Christ as my personal Savior.
It was when I was in Christian Endeavor and had a chance to go to
Camp Nawakwa. This particular Adams County Christian Endeavor
retreat was held Sunday afternoon and evening on September 14, 1947.
I was 31 years of age.
During our personal meditation we thought
about the strength we need to carry on. We were reminded that during
the three short years that Jesus walked among men here on earth, He
tried to get His disciples to understand that the world could only
satisfy the bodily needs. By personal example, He showed that only
through prayer and private meditation could the spiritual side of
life be strengthened. Thus, out of another rushing day of life, we
should pause to find that much needed strength by seeking the Lord
in our meditation.
Now with the Spiritual Strength to carry on,
we went to the Christian Endeavor Chapter to study Romans 12:1-21 to
decide if there were any improvements which we could make in our
Christian living. And we were asked if we meet these standards?
"I plead with you therefore, brethern, by
the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice,
holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
Instead of being molded to this world, be transformed by the entire
renewal of your minds, so that you may learn by experience what
God's will is, namely, what is good and acceptable, and perfect."
"Through the grace given me I warn every
individual among you not to think of himself more highly than he
ought to think; he must take a sane view of himself, corresponding
to the degree of faith which God has assigned to each. Just as we
have in the one body many organs, and these organs have not all the
same function; so collectively we form one body in Christ, while
individually we serve as organs for one another. Our talents differ
with the grace that is given us; if the talent is that of prophecy,
let us employ it in proportion to our faith; if it is practical
service, let us mind our service; the teacher must mind his
teaching, the speaker his words of counsel; the contributor must be
liberal, the superintendent must be in earnest, and one who gives
help should do it cheerfully."
"Let your love be sincere; hate what is
evil, hold fast to what is good. Let your love of the brethern be
true mutual affection; be forward to honor one another; not slothful
in business. Have your spirits aglow as the Lord's own servants; let
your hope be joy to you; patient under affliction, persistent in
prayer. Supply the needs of God's people, always practice
"Bless those who make a practice of
persecuting you; bless them instead of cursing them. Rejoice with
those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with
one another; do not be too ambitious, but associate with humble
folk. Do not be conceited."
"Do not pay anyone back with evil for evil,
aim to be above reproach in the eyes of all. If possible, for your
part, live peacefully with everybody. Do not take your revenge, dear
friends, but leave room for God's anger for the Scripture says,
"Vengeance belongs to me; I will pay them back, says the Lord." On
the contrary, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty,
give him drink; for by so doing, you will make him feel a burning
sense of shame. Never let evil get the better of you; get the better
of evil by doing good."
After applying these scriptures to ourselves
in meditation we closed by singing the "C E Pledge in Song" to the
tune of "Break Thou The Bread Of Life". Following this we gathered
in the big Assembly Hall and we hiked together to "Upper Temple" for
evening Vespers. Our speaker was the Rev. H. W. Sternat of
Biglerville, pastor of Benders Lutheran Church. From our seats on
the semi-circular rock steps at the top of the mountain we listened
to the service right before sundown. It truly was a "mountain top"
experience. I felt God there and accepted Him into my heart and
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