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St.John's Lutheran Church
Rockton PA

 



"Did you know? It's all built out of one rock!"

That's the claim to fame of St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church of Rockton. However, weekly worship and other activities by this community of faith have a long history which has included literally rising from the ashes.

By the year 1857, there were enough Lutheran families living in the vicinity of Rockton, but served by the pastor of the Luthersburg congregation, to request the pastor to hold some services in Rockton. These were held from time to time in the schoolhouse.

In 1874, Joseph Arnold bought the old schoolhouse, which was converted into a church. A congregation of 30 members was organized May 31, 1875, with Rev. Edmund Manges, Pastor, and as part of the Luthersburg Parish. On August 24, 1876, the cornerstone was laid for a new frame church building, 38 by 60 feet, which cost $3,000 and was dedicated September 30, 1877. The congregation purchased the lot on which the new church stood for $38.31 when the property was sold at sheriff's sale, January 16, 1878, to help pay J. W. Arnold's debts.

The first building was dismantled in 1910 to make way for a new church. Although also costing about $3,000, the 32- by 54-foot building was more elegant, featuring a bell tower. When electricity became available in Rockton in 1927, the church was electrified.

On May 24, 1932, a fire started in the chimney of the house on the west side, destroying all three buildings before being brought under control. Ken Dressler and his dad carried the piano out of the church. The only other items saved were the pulpit Bible and (of course) the offering plates. At the invitation of Rev. Jason Hollopeter, services and Sunday School were held at the Rockton Church of the Brethren.

On September 11, 1932, the cornerstone was laid for the present building. This was an ambitious undertaking, a little gem of a church with stone walls, slate roof, and stained glass windows. William Overdorf was the architect; John F. Carr, Jr., contractor; and LeRoy Orner was in charge of construction. The stone for the building was all cut from a huge boulder on the Anderson Creek side of town. John Peterson of Home Camp, his sons, and a few others, did the stonemasonry.

Quality didn't come cheaply. The completed church cost some $8,700, of which the fire insurance provided $3,760. While the building was being erected, the women of the church held chicken and noodle suppers to help with the costs. It was dedicated February 26, 1933, and various improvements have been made over the years. In 1965, Alice Pollock deeded the grove behind the church to the congregation.

For well over a century, St. John's has been part of a Vacation Bible School which is a wonderful joint ministry shared with our Church of the Brethren, Baptists, and United Methodist neighboring churches.

For the faith community this is St. John's. Buildings have come and gone, but the beautiful ministry of Jesus Christ and His love is the one foundation on which St. John's looks to the future.

 


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