History of Shiloh

 

       Mr. Joseph R. Patton, Superintendent of Mines of the St. Marys Coal Company, came to St. Marys in the fall of 1863.  In May of the following year, he moved his family from Lycoming County to St. Marys, the first Protestant family to settle in the town, which was a German Roman Catholic settlement.  The very first Protestant to come to St. Marys was Mrs. Alois Loeffler in 1845, just a little over two years after the first settlers landed here on December 8, 1842.

      In the summer of 1865, Mr. Patton opened a Sabbath School in the company carpenter shop for the children of his employees.  The carpenter shop was located on the site of the present building of Keller Oil, Inc., Texaco oil distributors, Washington Road.  The accommodations were not of the best as the children sat on planks supported by nail kegs and the teachers sat on kegs covered with shingles, but the school was a success.  The parents were attracted by the singing of the children, and Mr. Patton frequently held a service for them after Sunday School with Scripture reading, hymns, prayers, and the reading of a sermon.

     On July 7, 1866, the Rev. David Hull visited Mr. Patton, who had long been his Elder in the Pennsdale Presbyterian Church, Lycoming County.  The next day was Sabbath, July 8, and Rev. Hull preached the first Protestant sermon ever delivered in St. Marys, in Mr. Patton's office, from Matthew 12:50, "For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in Heaven, the same is my brother and sister and mother."

     Rev. Hull's interest in the little group of believers brought him back whenever possible to hold religious services with them.  On the third Tuesday in April, 1867, the Presbytery of Northumberland petitioned for an organization committee to establish a new church in St. Marys.  The Rev. David Hull, Rev. Sturgis, and Elder Quiggle were appointed to organize the church.  The two clergymen met with applicants in the dining room of the Alpine House through the courtesy and kindness of the proprietor, Herman Kretz, on May 26, 1867, and held two services; Rev. Sturgis preached both sermons.  After the sermon, the Shiloh Presbyterian Church was solemnly organized with 13 members.  Most of the members desired to name the church for the minister who had brought them thus far, but at his earnest request, it received the name of Shiloh.

     Mr. Joseph Patton was elected Elder and Mr. Edward Mitchell, Deacon. Rev. Hull was authorized by the committee to perform the services of ordination and installation on the second succeeding Sabbath when three additional members were received, and Mr. James Snadden was elected Elder.

     Rev. Hull continued to supply religious services and constantly urged the building of a church.  So few were the Protestants in the town that this seemed almost an impossibility.  At last the present church site was secured and on April 14, 1868, Mr. Hull brought carpenters from Williamsport to begin building.  There were many hurdles and the work went slowly, and although the church was ready to shingle by the middle of June, it was the 28th of March, 1869, before the first sermon was preached in the Sunday School room in the new building.  Mr. Hull's text was from Proverbs 4:23, "Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.”  On January 30, 1870, the church was dedicated to the glory of God.  This church was used until our present beautiful stone building was dedicated on December 20, 1903.

The cornerstone of our present church was laid on October 10, 1900, after the old building had been moved to 340 Grant Street where services continued to be held for three years.  The church building was then sold and used as a laundry, later as a candy factory, and finally, remodeled into a four-family dwelling, as it is today.

     Rev. Hull, the first pastor, served the little congregation faithfully for more than two years and was succeeded by Rev. Robert White.  In 1880, Rev. S. F. Thompson accepted a call from the church and remained its pastor for five years.  The next pastor was Rev. David Kennedy, who was privileged to receive a number of persons into church membership.  On November 11, 1892, Rev. J. H. Graybell assumed the pastorship and faithfully served the congregation until October 18, 1918, almost twenty-six years.  In 1899, it was deemed expedient to erect a new edifice, as the old building no longer met the needs of the congregation.

     Our present church is noted for its three huge stained glass windows in the sanctuary.  Each of these windows is 19 feet 4 inches in height and 13 feet in width.  These superb memorial windows were made from a rare quality of stained glass imported from Belgium.  This extraordinary translucent glass is no longer manufactured anywhere in the world.

     The west window portrays the return of the prodigal son, in life-size figures.  The east window shows Christ, the Shepherd, in life size, surrounded by three sheep.  In His left hand, He is holding a shepherd's crook, and with His right hand and arm, He is holding a small lamb.  The south window presents a life-sized Christ with outstretched arms and hands, as though blessing the congregation.

     Ground was broken for the new Christian Education Center on May 2, 1965.  It was built on the site of our former manse.  The new building is a buff colored brick structure in the modern motif , containing an assembly room with a stage and balcony.  There are classrooms on each side of the assembly room as well as a pastor's study and secretary's office.  The basement floor, which comes out at street level on the Washington Street side, contains a large dining room, a large kitchen, and additional classroom space as well as space for utilities and storage.

     When the original building was constructed, the facade and the panels on each side of the door on the Diamond Street side were left plain with the idea that they would be filled in with a ceramic tile facade.  The facade was completed in the fall of 1966.  Floodlights were installed so that it can be illuminated at night.

     The picture is in a modern motif and thus presents a continuous challenge for reflection and interpretation.  The Christian theme is shown by the cross being shattered by the light behind.  Different colored figures represent the different races of man on the way to the cross.  The purpose of the building is expressed in the lower right panel in words taken from the Bible, Lord, teach us.  Go ye…and teach all nations.