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Mt Olivet UB Church, The First 100 Years

While working in the Biglerville Historical an Preservation archives we discovered that Mt. Olivet United Brethren Church in Guernsey is celebrating their 130th Anniversary this year. We thought we’d honor that with this blog post.

The church was established when a group of parishioners broke from another local United Brethren church. Although it’s not clear from which one it separated, the two closest were Clines Church in Gardners and what is now Bendersville United Methodist in Bendersville.

I. C. Weilder was appointed pastor to the new church and its building was erected using recycled bricks from a former old one room schoolhouse. The building was finished in 1893 and dedicated in April of 1894, with the Reverend A.H. Shank delivering the dictatory address.

The church was a part of the York Springs Circuit that also included Idaville and Heidlersburg until it was removed from the circuit in 1963.

The congregation decided to expand the church in 1979 and contacted the landowners to the north, Mr. and Mrs. Steve Ondek, who donated the land they needed. A building committee including Anna Eckert, Mildred Guise, Harold Moomaw, Leroy Rodgers, Junior Wirt, Pauline Wonders, and Pastor Myrl T. Slaybaugh was formed.

An initial capital campaign raised $15,000 and a loan from Pearl and Roy Guise in the amount of $25,000 was secured to add school rooms, restrooms, a foyer, and a basement with a multi-purpose room to the church. They also made some alterations to the sanctuary and a heating system was installed. The construction was completed in 1982 and the mortgage was paid in full in April of 1987.

The congregation was formed during a time of turmoil in the UB Church, which numbered over 200,000 members by 1890. The controversy centered around the desire to make three changes in the church constitution. However, the amendment procedure spelled out in the constitution made it almost impossible to change the constitution. Not to be deterred, some denominational leaders decided to just ignore the constitution and make the changes anyway. They eventually adopted a new constitution.

For a while, on a national level, the two denominations used the name “Church of the United Brethren in Christ.” Popularly, the group which stuck with the original constitution became known as the “Radicals,” and the divergent group was known as the “Liberals.” This was the case in Adams County as well. During 1891, the Gettysburg Complier reported on meetings held by both groups and referred to them with both of those names.

Mt. Olivet was formed by the “Radicals” which was led nationally by Bishop Milton Wright, the father of Wilbur and Orville, who invented the airplane.

The duplication of names ended in 1946, when the “Liberals” merged with the Evangelical Association to form the Evangelical United Brethren Church and became known as the EUB. They eventually merged into the Methodist Church in 1968 to form the United Methodist Church.

Mt. Olivet UB Church is still serving the community in spite of the challenges facing so many small churches including diminishing membership and rising expenses. Biglerville Historical and Preservation Society congratulates them on their 130th Anniversary. They are in the process of documenting their last 30 years and we’ll update their recent history at that time.

Sources: Mt. Olivet Centennial booklet, The Gettysburg Compiler newspaper, The Church of the United Brethren in Christ, USA website

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