Emanuel United Brethren In Christ Church:
As we look back to the year 1828, when John Quincy Adams was president of United States, and examine the history of our church in Winterstown, we realize our great debt to those pioneers of the faith. Our roots can be traced to the prominent preacher Christian Newcomer who no doubt deserves credit for inspiring our forefathers to organize. He was the first minister of the Otterbein fellowship who entered the county circa 1797 with the purpose of organizing congregations and establishing churches. It is known that he preached at Lewis Haney's grove.
In 1828, under Rev. John Kroch, a camp meeting was held on the farm of Lewis Haney, and although there were only eight tents, many conversations were reported. A year later another meeting was held on the farm of Adam Strayer (now the farm of Lorraine Flinchbaugh) with thirty tents, and many more souls were saved. Although organized in 1828, and holding the distinction of being the oldest organized class of United Brethren In Christ in York County, the group had no house of worship and continued to meet in homes and barns of the Haneys, Strayers, Grimms, Flinchbaughs and others. Finally in 1868, they selected a building site for a church on the old "Householder Burying Ground." (the U.B. cemetery on Rippling Run Road) A brick church was erected at a cost of $2,000. The church was dedicated to God on November 29, 1868 and known as the "Little Brick Church." Members worshiped in this church until the congregation of eighty-nine outgrew it, and it was razed in May 1908.
Pastor D.R. Wagner and the congregation named a committee to decide on a site and to formulate plans for a new church building. The location was an elevated spot in the northern end of the borough on the west side of Route 24. March 9, 1908 ground was broken, the cornerstone was laid June 14, 1908, and the church was dedicated on April 25, 1909. The church, with elegant stained glass windows, was considered one of the finest rural churches in the country.
A parsonage was built in 1911 across the road from the church. It even had a stained glass window. Tying sheds for horses were at the rear of the church near the alley, Years later, no longer needed when people bought cars, they were demolished. For fifty-four years the Emanuel building served well, but upon completion of the new church in 1963 it was razed.
St. Paul's Evangelical Church:
St. Paul's Evangelical Church, who background also included circuit riders, was organized in 1854 and was part of the Shrewsbury Circuit until 1885 when the congregation was connected to the Red Lion Circuit. The first meeting house was originally in the northern part of town. The building belonged to the German Baptists, and it was here that a spectacle occurred which drew attention nation wide. An article appeared in The New York Times published September 1, 1885 about an incident that occurred with a well known resident of the village by the name J.H.P. Fulton.
It is hard to imagine that Mr. Fulton had such vehement feelings against the great Union general twenty years after the Civil War ended. Most of the town's residents thought Fulton's actions were a disgrace.
Thirteen years later, in 1898, the congregation was attached to the Felton Circuit and the following year, under the leadership of Rev. F.H. Foss, the congregation built St. Paul's Church at the south end of the cemetary near the square. The building included a high spire which was later replaced with a much lower steeple and belfry. For many years St. Paul's was part of a four church charge which included Felton, Bethlehem-Stonepile, and Springvale.
Route 24 was a dirt road in 1899, and members of the congregation either walked or came by horse and buggy or wagon. At the north end of the cemetary were wooden sheds which sheltered the horses during the services. When the Model T replaced the horse, cars were parked in the sheds and on the side of the road in front of the church. St. Paul's Church was razed in 1963, when the new church was ready for use. The ground where the church had stood was deeded to the cemetary assocation. You can find the church bell encased in brick in the EV Cemetary sign, silent now but enshrined forever, very close to the site from where it rang for over sixty years.
Winterstown United Methodist Church:
The Evangelical and the United Brethren in Christ denominations were merged to form the Evangelical United Brethren denomination in 1946. From 1946-1959, Winterstown had two churches of the same denomination with seperate ministers. After thirteen years, under the leadership of Reverends Tom Jones and Ira C. Keperling, St. Paul's and Emanuel's congregations united to form one church in Winterstown. Now they had one congregation, but they still had two seperate buildings. Sunday worship services were alternated between the two buildings, and both were used for Sunday School each week.
The inconvience of traveling between the two churches each Sunday led to a decision to build a church in the center of town. Under the direction of the Rev. Ira C. Keperling, a site was selected opposite the school. Two and one half acres were purchased from Curtis Hildebrand. Ground was broken April 1, 1962, on a day of pouring rain, with Dr. Paul E. Horn presiding, and on June 17, 1962 the cornerstone was laid with Dr. D. P. Zuse presiding.
The church was dedicated to the glory of God April 7, 1963 with Dr. Paul E. Horn, Superintendent of Pennsylvania Conference, presiding. April 23, 1968, at Dallas, Texas, the Methodist Church and the E.U.B. Church joined to form the United Methodist Church, and because of this merger we are the Winterstown United Methodist Church. Some thought when the project was undertaken the debt would last a life time, but the Lord blessed us most abundantly and provided the means for this accomplishment.
A new parsonage at the south end of town was purchased in 1980 under Rev. Paul Rock's pastorate.
After forty years, the church building started showing its age and needed updated and enlarged in certain areas. A renovation project was begun. Groundbreaking of the new wing occurred in April 2003. A new addition with a new main entrance was constructed to the front of the church which provided for a larger narthex and church office. The new wing at the rear gave more rooms for Sunday School and Growing Friends Daycare. Dedication of the new facilities was held February 22. 2004, under Pastor Ronald French's tenure.
Emanuel United Brethren In Christ Church: