G-A Ministerium, Part I
By SHARON BAUMBAUGH
The churches of Greencastle would hold Union Thanksgiving services on Thursday, Nov. 30, 1899 in the Evangelical Lutheran Church with the sermon preached by the Rev. L. Carmon Bell. Places of business would be closed. The Willow Spring Band would offer a street concert for the citizens in the afternoon and evening of the Day of Thanks (this was a group of Black musicians who played at various times and as the entertainment for a variety of programs in the Greencastle and Antrim community).
At the beginning of 1907, it was announced that the town's businesses would be closed for three evenings during the coming week. The move was made so that owners and their employees could attend religious services during the Week of Prayer.
In December 1919, the Greencastle churches would unite in a series of Union Prayer Services. These would be held on Wednesday evenings during the month. The next year, during a meeting of the Greencastle Ministerial Union, it was decided to hold the customary Christmas morning service in the Otterbein United Brethren Church on South Washington Street.
In November 1921, the Ministerial Association held a meeting to plan Thanksgiving and Armistice Day services for the local churches. The Union Week of Prayer was set to begin Jan. 2.
In the spring of the following year, churches of Greencastle would unite in a community service to discuss Sunday laws. Prohibition and pool room laws affecting the community were among the topics. Several dignitaries would offer 20 minute speeches to those assembled.
The Greencastle Ministerium arranged for a special three hour service to be held from noon to 3 p.m. in observance of Good Friday in March 1934. The program would be offered in Grace Reformed Church on East Baltimore Street.
The Rev. H. B. Burkholder, pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, was elected president of the Greencastle Ministerial Association at the reorganization meeting held in June 1939. Other officers were: Rev. H.K. Krone, pastor of the First United Brethren Church (now First United Methodist), vice president; Rev. G.E. Plott, pastor of Grace Reformed Church (now Grace United Church of Christ), treasurer; and Rev. George L. Kress, pastor of the Greencastle Presbyterian Church, secretary.
Following the plan suggested by President Franklin Roosevelt, that New Year's Day 1942, be observed throughout the United States as a Day of Prayer for the Army and Navy, the Ministerial Association arranged for union services. The program was held in Trinity Lutheran Church on East Baltimore Street.
In mid-May 1944, Greencastle churches would open on Invasion Day, it was decided at a meeting of the Ministerium (although a definite date was not known at the time, D-Day would be June 6). 'The ringing of the Town Clock bell would serve as a call to prayer', according to the announcement made by the group. Soon, the Allied armies would successfully land on the beaches of Normandy.
The Ministerium notified the Greencastle-Antrim Old Home Week Association that it rejected its plan for a union religious service to be held on opening Sunday morning of the special week of celebration. The request did not meet with the approval of the Ministerial Association and the vote was unanimous for them to proceed as in other years, with a service in each church with an invited minister in each pulpit.
Meeting on a Monday in March 1945, at the First United Brethren Church parsonage on North Washington Street, the ministers of Greencastle adopted tentative plans for the observance of 'Victory in Germany Day.' The plans were prepared and submitted by the Rev. Raymond L. Markley, chairman of the special services committee, and were adopted after a number of corrections and amendments.
Sponsored by the Greencastle Ministerium Association, the Daily Vacation Bible School of 1950 would open June 5. The programs for the children would be held in the Greencastle High School on South Washington Street.
The next year, the Ministerium and the Greencastle Rotary Club would sponsor a community hymn sing on a Sunday in the high school auditorium. Groups taking part would be the Woman's Club Chorus, The Treble Clef Choir, The Rescue Hose Company Chorus, the Moss Spring Quartet and the choirs of the town's churches. The congregational singing would be led by Harry Forbes, music supervisor of the Lititz schools.
Soon, the association would again plan for the yearly vacation Bible school program. As in years past, Miss Elise Harrison and Miss Lois Hendrickson, of Atlantic City, N.J., would be here to direct the school.
In June 1952, the Ministerium elected the following officers: President, Dr. Ross Murphy; vice president, the Rev. John Roland; secretary, the Rev. Merle Sollinger; and treasurer, the Rev. Charles A Shilke.
In July, the members of the Ministerium and their wives would honor Dr. and Mrs. A.M. Stevenson, pastor of the Greencastle Presbyterian Church. The occasion was a farewell dinner held at the Open Door Tea Room in Chambersburg.
In February 1953, the association would conduct its own daily vacation Bible school instead of having outside people conduct it as in former years. The Rev. Edward K. Stipe had been chosen dean of the school. He met with representatives of the various Sunday Schools on a Monday evening. Mr. Stipe appointed the following committee chairmen: Publicity, the Rev. C.A. Shilke; crafts, the Rev. Ross McClintock; finance, the Rev. Dr. Ross Murphy; closing day program, the Rev. George A. Brown; recreation, the Rev. Merle Sollinger; curriculum, Dean Stipe and the Rev. Dr. C.A. Mummart.
In July, the group would host a luncheon in the Antrim Room of Hotel McLaughlin. The meal was to welcome the Rev. Charles Miller and his wife, the new pastor of the Evangelical United Brethren Church.