Penbrook UCC is the result of a coming together of two former congregations of the United Church of Christ.
The older of the two is St. Andrew’s, located at this site.
St. Andrew’s was founded in December of 1893, formed under the Lancaster Classis as St. Andrew’s Reformed Church, as part of the “Shoop’s Charge,” a union of three churches which includes Shoop’s (now Colonial Park), Wenrich’s (now St. Thomas, in Linglestown), and St. Andrew’s, which is formed with only twenty members.
The following year, a plot of ground is conveyed by the Fishborn family from their farm, sold for $400 with the proviso that the “property be used for no other but church purposes.”
January of 1907, St. Andrew’s is detached from the Shoop’s Charge and given its own charter as a congregation. among others, the congregation is served by two very long pastorates on the parts of the Rev. Fred Grove between the years of 1918 and 1941, and by Dr. William J. Ross between the years 1941 and 1957.
The younger of these two churches is St. Paul’s, established around the year 1952, with the thought that an Evangelical & Reformed congregation should be planted in the growing eastern edge of Harrisburg. In January of 1954, a number of persons from the neighborhood organize St. Paul’s, under the pastoral leadership of the Rev. James G. Reed, who serves until June of 1960. Here’s a tidbit: St. Paul’s is formally organized at a meeting at Salem Evangelical & Reformed Church, in Harrisburg, which gives it the distinction of being the youngest church in the city, founded in the oldest church in the city.
By January, 1955, a 1½ acre building lot is purchased at the corner of Rudy Road and Hale Streets. Construction of the first phase of the church is begun in October of 1956, with that of a parsonage following in July of 1963. Several brief pastorates of Revs. Wagner, Wimer, and Kasten conclude with that of Rev. Dr. Gary F. Greth, beginning in August of 1967.
In October of 1969, Rev. John Sando, serving St. Andrew’s at the time, contacts Rev. Greth, at St. Paul’s, regarding the possibility of merging the two congregations. The following month, the Consistories of St. Andrew’s and St. Paul’s meet together for more involved conversations concerning the matter. That group included such luminaries as Duey Unger, Doris J. Wagner, Dale Packer, Bob Zimmerman, and Zelda Ross, from St. Andrew’s; and Jack Ferguson, Jean Speck (Houseal), Sarajane Sellers, and Jack Dietrich, from St. Paul’s. Several meetings later it is decided that merger would be pursued, with the following compromise agreed to: The folks of St. Andrew’s would keep their building, and the folks of St. Paul’s would keep their pastor, Rev. Dr. Greth being installed to serve the newly combined Church.
Here’s another tidbit: In uniting, one of the most difficult tensions between the groups to settle concerns Communion. St. Andrew’s, it seems, serves grape juice; St. Paul’s, wine. Somehow they get through the difficulties here, apparently by offering both, as we continue to do to this day.
The Charter for the new congregation is opened beginning March of 1970. It consists of 15 sheets of calligraphic parchment-like paper, on which 280 persons affix their signatures. Now four decades later,
many of those who originally comprised the Penbrook United Church of Christ are still members.