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(The following was excerpted from "History of Christ Reformed Church (nr.) Littlestown, Pa. 1746-1947" by Rev. John Clark Brumbach, B.D., 1947 and "History of Cumberland and Adams Counties, Pennsylvania" by Warner, Beers & Co., 1886):
The forebears of the Reformed Church in Pennsylvania were Germans, coming especially from the Palatinate. They were members of the Reformed Church, which was a direct outcome of the Reformation of 1517. The Palatinate, which was in western Germany, was suffering from the turmoil of war, as well as interference by the state in their worship. Therefore, they began to cross the Atlantic to seek a place where they could worship God according to the dictates of their conscience. The earliest Reformed Congregations in Pennsylvania were organized in 1725, east of the Susquehanna River. Prior to the year 1725 very few whites ventured to settle any place west of the Susquehanna. Among the early German settlers who came during the early years to the southern part of the Conewago Valley, and who were among the founders of Christ Church, are found names such as Kitzmiller, Schreiber, Sell, Sheely, Fohrney, Koontz, Young, Duttro, Little (Klein), Miller, Felty and Will.
German Reformed settlers came to the Conewago settlement early in 1734. Among the first were Andrew Schreiber and Dewald Jung, his stepbrother, both of whom appear in the Conewago Reformed church record. Andrew Schreiber and his descendants played a prominent part in the early life of Christ Church as well as in the community.
Missionaries operating under the union movement of Count Zinzendorf were sent to the German settlers. They visited the scattered German settlements and preached the Gospel, free of charge, to all who were willing to hear them. Among the German missionaries, five were the most prominent: Jacob Lischy, Christian Henry Rauch, John Bechtel, Henry Antes and John Brandmiller. They left numerous diaries, in which they described their activities. Those diaries are preserved in the Moravian archives at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
The earliest and most active of the missionaries was Jacob Lischy. In 1744, he reported about eighteen places in which he had preached the gospel. His southernmost place was York in York County. During the following years, 1745-1747, he extended his missionary activity to cover several places in what is now Adams County, especially Bermudian, near Hanover, also Conewago, which is now Christ Church, near Littlestown and Conococheague, now St. Paul's, at Clearspring, Maryland.
The Rev. Michael Schlatter was sent by the synods of Holland to Pennsylvania for the purpose of organizing the Reformed congregation into a regular religious body. He arrived in Philadelphia on September 6, 1746. He spent the rest of that year traveling in eastern Pennsylvania to visit Reformed congregations. In the year 1747, he undertook a "great journey" which took him to Maryland and Virginia. On May 2, 1747, Schlatter arrived at York. On May 4th, he traveled from York to Conewago (Christ Church), a distance of twenty-nine miles, where, on the same day, he held services and administered holy baptism to twenty-one children. On May 6th, he opened the earliest record at Conewago. This is the earliest record book, which is still in the possession of the congregation.
The church was originally referred to as the Conewago congregation, but after 1783, the name "Christ Church" appears consistently in the records, and it was incorporated by that name in 1828. The ground on which Christ Church is built was a part of Lancaster County until 1749, when York County was formed. Adams County was formed from the western portion of York County in 1800. At the time the church was incorporated, it was a part of Germany Township, but in 1841, Union Township was erected from Germany, Conewago, and Mt. Pleasant Townships. The church is two miles east of Littlestown on the Hanover road on lands deeded by the Penns in 1759 to Michael Will in trust for the German Reformed Church. The elders in 1798 were Andrew Shriver and Jacob Parr. They, together with Conrad Duttera, Ludwig Mouse and Jacob Will, constituted the building committee. John Dysert was secretary and the teacher of the parochial school.
||This stone sits out in
front of the church property. It reads:
CHRIST REFORMED CHURCH
On this site stood the first church, a log structure, which was replaced in 1798 by a brick church. This edifice enlarged and a second story added in 1877 became known as "Old" Christ Church. Renovated in 1896, it was used until April 7, 1963.
This marker presented by Mr. and Mrs. Floyd S. Study.
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