Formally, the Presbyterian congregation in Raven Creek was organized August 12, 1859 by permission of Northumberland Presbytery but the stirrings of the church began as far back at 1810.  The first Presbyterian meetings took place in Sugarloaf Log Church.  This was a church of hewn logs near the present site of the St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church. It was finished in 1812 but not officially dedicated until July 15, 1828.  the ceremony of dedication on that date was conducted by Rev. Henry H. Onderdonk, Episcopalian minister.

 

The building at that site was jointly owned by Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and Lutherans.  How these congregations formed is unknown.  This building was occupied for 64 years before it burned on Palm Sunday, April 9, 1876.  It was in that place that the Presbyterian congregation first held meetings about 1812.

 

Little additional information is available until 1859 when a number of persons from Cole’s Mills petitioned Northumberland Presbytery, then meeting at Berwick, for a church organization in that area.  John Doty, Esq., Rev. D.J. Waller, and John Thomas were appointed as a committee to look into this proposal.  They met at the Log church on Friday, August 12, 1859 to organize the church.  The congregation included Earl Boston, Frederick Laubach, James Wilson, Simon W. Tubbs, Freas Conner, and others. In October of 1859 a congregation of 20 members was reported with two elders ordained and installed.

 

Sometime between 1859 and 1872 the meeting place of this congregation was changed from the Log Church to the original Hamline Church building which was built in 1845.  The present Hamline Church building was built in 1879 near the original site.  The Presbyterian congregation had been without its own place of worship throughout this time meeting in the homes of various members and then at the Hamline Church since the location was convenient to its members. These two congregations continued to be closely associated through the years.   Some of the members of the congregation at this time (1910) included Blanche Shultz Hartman, Susie Shultz Hess, Anna Drescher, Ray Shultz, Arthur VanHorn, Francis Drescher Diltz, Stephen Drescher, Josephine Shultz Gearheart, Letha Laubach Mendenhall, Charity Laubach Keefer, Clarence Albertson, Frank I. Shultz, and Harvey Belles.

 

At a congregational meeting held July 1, 1872 in the Hamline Church building it was decided to build a place of worship for the Presbyterian congregation. The name was to be Raven Creek Presbyterian Church.  The land for the church building and room for the cemetery were donated The church history records this land from  Rhoda Laubach Harrison but the property transfer was actually recorded July 5, 1872 from Hannah Buss of Nescopeck Township, Luzerne County (Deed Book #25, page #555) of one acre “to erect and build or cause to be build on said lot of land, a house or place of worship.” The first grave in the Raven Creek Cemetery was Phepa Shotz, daughter of h. & E. Shotz who died August of 1877.  This Shotz family lived across the valley from the home of Marie Albertson Bailey.  The building committee consisted of Peter Laubach, Samuel Wilson, Samuel Krickbaum, and the Rev. William R. Mather.  According to Peter Laubach’s diary the dedication sermon was preached on November 7, 1872 (a Thursday) by Stewart Michael.  According to the History of Columbia County by Battle the building was dedicated on November 7, 1874 (a Saturday)?  In any case, in December of 1872 Rev. N. Spear brought a request to Presbytery which was granted allowing the name “Sugar Loaf” to be changed to “The Raven Creek Church.”

 

In October of 1915 Benton and Raven Creek churches became one charge during the pastorate of Rev. John H. Sanders.  At that time the manse was built in Benton. The Raven Creek Church has shared a minister with various other church congregations through the years.  These churches include Rohrsburg, Orangeville, Benton, and Columbia Hill.  The Benton and Raven Creek churches shared the ownership of a manse to house the minister until 1979.  The trustees minutes of the Raven Creek Church go back to June 21, 1922 when the following officers were elected.  President was Perry Dietrick, Vice President was Joseph Letteer, and Secretary was R.D. Wenner.

No major changes were made in the building until 1924 when the original reed organ was replaced with the present Blasius piano.  This organ was later sold at an auction to raise funds for the church.  In 1925 extensive remodeling was begun with the work led by Edmond and Emory Lutz.  The windows were replaced with stained glass windows which were donated in memory of former members, in honor of members, and in memory of a former pastor and his wife, Rev. & Mrs. William R. Mather who was minister from 1888 to 1915.  A hot air furnace replaced the two pot-bellied stoves, wall to wall carpeting was laid, gasoline lights were installed, and new pulpit furniture and pews replaced the original furniture and “back-breaker” pews.  According to the trustees minutes of July 4, 1925 the church was then painted and a re-dedication service was held.

 

 

At the August 31, 1925 meeting of the congregation the house and lots of Mr. T. A. Hess adjoining the church property were purchased for $800.00 to be used a “fellowship hall”, burying ground and other church purposes (Book 101, page 469).  In early 1926 work was done on the property and the accompanying house to convert it into a dining hall.  It was christened the “Raven Creek Community Hall’ because of its intended use.

 

In September and October of 1929 the elders and trustees of the church, under the leadership of Rev. L. V. Barber, met and decided to set up an incorporation of the church and cemetery to provide for it’s support and care.  A.R. Smith, E.G. Albertson, Stephen K. Drescher, J.R. Phillips, and W.F. Keefer were appointed to prepare the by-laws and a charter was applied for.  The charter, granted by Charles C. Evans, presiding judge of Columbia County courts, on March 9, 1931,  was accepted and adopted, along with the by-laws, on May 24, 1931 at a congregational meeting at the church making the church name officially the Raven Creek Presbyterian Church, Incorporated.

 

 

In 1949 the buildings were wired for electricity, the first bill being dated April 3, 1949 and electric lights were installed.  In approximately 1956 the women of the congregation made foam rubber pew cushions and cloth covers for the furniture.  IN 1957 the woodburning hot air furnace was converted to burn oil. Several times over the years the church was painted through the generosity of Roy & Susie Hess.  In 1959 an electric kitchen range was installed in the Community Hall, a cement block chimney was laid, and a new roof was put on the porch there.

 

In 1959 the  history of this church congregation was assembled by Stephen K. Drescher, Anna Drescher, A. Marie Albertson Bailey, Mrs. O. Keefer, Connie Carson, and Rev. Robert L. Cobb, pastor, for the Centennial Homecoming celebration held on Sunday, November 29, 1959.  The session members in 1959 were: Stephen K. Drescher, Clerk of Session, E.K. Shultz, J. Brandon McDaniels, Fred DePoe, and Fred E. Houseweart.  The church Treasurer was Lydia (Mrs. J. Brandon) McDaniels.

On April 24, 1962 the Fishing Creek United Presbyterian Parish was formed consisting of Benton, Raven Creek, Orangeville, and Columbia Hill churches.

 

The list of ministers serving this congregation up to this time (1959) were:

Rev. D. J. Waller Jr.             1875-1877

Rev. A.W. Spear                             Supply

Rev. C.K. Canfield               Supply

Rev. R.G. Hemingway Sr.          Supply

Rev. William R. Mather                  1888-1915

Rev. John H. Sanders           1915-1917

Rev. Samuel Moddy                  1918-1922

Rev. W.H. Sugden                1923 & 1925 (student)

Rev. L.V. Barber                            1925- 1943

Rev. Carl Woll                      1944-1946

Rev. Harry Buck                     1947-1950

Rev. Edgar Datesman            1951 (student)

Rev. Donald Sears & others          (students)

Rev. David I. Shaffer              1954-1956

Rev. Robert L. Cobb                    1957 -

later came:

Rev. Clair V. McNeil             November 1, 1962 - November 30, 1964

Rev. C. Patrick Chase                  Sept. 1965-Feb. 1, 1969  (during this period a           pulpit exchange took place with Rev. Russell Ferry of Philadelphia)

Supply ministers                        1969-July 1970

Rev. Richard Lichti           July 19, 1970 - June 8, 1972

Supply ministers                        1972-1974

Rev. William Bostrum               1974- 1976

Supply ministers                        1976- 1987  (services once/month)

Rev. Jesse Fritz-                     January 18, 1987 - October 1994(supply                                                                                    part-time, temporary)

Rev. Wallace Pabst                   November 1994 - June 7, 1995 (supply

                                                                             part-time, temporary)

Rev. Leslie Drayer                  June 1996 - March 14, 1999

Supply ministers

 

 

On May 24, 1970 the congregation and officers of the church voted to separate the cemetery and the Community Hall from the church property, the new corporation being called the “Raven Creek Memorial Inc.”  This finally became legally effective on January 5, 1979.  On November 2, 1972 the congregation voted to withdraw form he Fishing Creek Parish which consisted of Raven Creek, Benton, and Orangeville Presbyterian churches. This became effective March 29, 1973.

On April 6, 1975, Steven Drescher, one of the oldest and most active members of the congregation died and later that same year the oldest member, Mrs. Guy (Ida) Albertson died.  Both were laid to rest in the Raven Creek Cemetery.

 

Most of the time between 1972 and 1986 our church was classed as a “Sunday School church” with ministers leading worship services as available and as we could find them.  For a while services were held only the first Sunday of each month, although Sunday School continued every Sunday morning.  The Sunday School remained active and various events were planned throughout the year such as Children’s Day, attendance contests,  a community Thanksgiving celebration, Sunday School picnics and ice cream festivals.  The flock survived without a pastor during this time.

 

On December 12, 1983, a dark and rainy night, one half of two beautiful  memorial stained-glass windows in the rear of the church building, were stolen.  These windows were place there in 1925.  Through generous donations the $1,120 needed to replace them with replicas was obtained and they were installed on March 15, 1985.   The balance of funds raised from the Window Fund was put in a “building fund” to go toward additional Sunday School space.

 

In the Spring of 1986 members of the congregation decided that they would like to strive for a more active church and a pastor to lead them.  A committee was formed and alternatives were considered for hiring a part-time pastor, perhaps shared with another local church.  Letters were sent to local ministers in an attempt to move in that direction.  In January of 1987 a part-time temporary supply pastor was hired and church services were again held every week.

 

In 1987 work was begun to dig the groud out from under the church to put in new walls, a concrete floor, and new joists and sillls.  This resulted in a stairway leading to the basement and five Sunday School rooms.

Rededication July 17, 1988

Rededication  July 28, 1991

 

In October 1996 we were named a recipient of Mission Capital Grant from of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) which enabled us to purchase a new heating/cooling system adequate for the enlarged church and Sunday School area and some new doors and improvements.  The funds were received in December of 1996.

 

SOURCES:

diary of Peter Laubach

History of Columbia County by Battle

The 1959 Centennial program prepared by Rev. Robert Cox and a committee

Marie Albertson Bailey

Minutes of the session of the Raven Creek Church.

One Hundred and Fifty Years of Evangelism: The History of

Northumberland Presbytery 1811-1961 by Rev. Robert S. Cocks, General Presbyter.OUR HISTORY