A Brief History of College Hill Presbyterian Church
~David Nevin wanted to move his family to College Hill only with a proper place to worship, 1890’s.
~Abraham Sherrer donated land, Parsons and Brodhead, for construction of the Chapel/Sunday School, ready June, 1891.
~Newton Johnson, procurer of funds, was the first Sunday School Superintendent.
~1894-1896 William H. Wells , a Lafayette student, led The Chapel services on Sunday evenings. The congregation grew.
~April 1896 David Nevin and William Wells petitioned Lehigh Presbytery to allow The Chapel to become a Presbyterian Church, granted in May. Chartering by Northampton County Court of Pleas followed.
~David Nevin, Newton Johnson, Milton Bull and John Shellenberger were elected as Elders.
~Abraham Sherrer was named to the Board of Trustees.
~June 1896—The first Sunday in June a Communion Worship Service was held to commemorate College Hill Presbyterian Church as a Presbyterian Church. This continues to be our traditional Anniversary Sunday.
Rev. Charles Schall 1896-1909
~A graduate of Princeton Seminary was called as the first installed minister of the 136 member congregation.
~In addition to strong worship and an appeal to the young and elderly the congregation continued to grow.
~The first missionaries from this church served in Korea and India.
~Women of the church began the Women’s Foreign Missionary Society (1896), Women’s Home Missionary Society (1901) and the Pastor’s Aid Society (1905, to keep the Chapel clean).
~The Bulletin was published in 1906 and in 1907 the first Cradle Roll was called.
~It was obvious a larger building was necessary for the flourishing membership. Newton Johnson donated land at the corner of Brodhead and Monroe Streets, while David Nevin, Abraham Sherrer, Milton Bull and the congregation offered funds to build the Tudor-Gothic styled College Hill Presbyterian Church.
~Philadelphia architect, Joseph Huston was selected (he also designed/built the State Capitol). Groundbreaking began September 22, 1897.
~The design included a Queen Anne porch, six-sided, high wooden ribbed ceiling sanctuary, amphitheater arranged pews in front of a centrally located pulpit.
~A rolling partition separated the sanctuary from the adjoining Sunday School area.
~A kitchen, parlor, office and pantry (lower area) completed the building.
~Stained glass windows were donated by N. A. Johnson family, George Johnson, Mrs. J. S. Downs,
William Wells, and David Nevin.
Completion was celebrated with Communion on the first Sunday of June in 1898. The Chapel was redesigned and sold.
Rev. Luther Black 1909-1936
~His spiritual guidance embedded this church into the Easton community.
~1921 the 369 members celebrated 25 years, one third of the total budget was for mission.
~A paid quartet played music for the worship services. The Strawberry Festival began.
~Interior additions were donated during this period.
~Mrs. Arnold Gerstell and son Robert donated the pulpit with carvings of Jesus, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as well as the lighting above. 1932, Gerstell commissioned the Resurrection Tiffany Window which replaced an original stained glass window.
~The present Communion Table was a gift from Mrs. and Mr. Brainerd.
~Mrs. Stanley Neiman donated the baptismal font and established a fund so every child baptized received a Bible.
~Boy Scout Troop 3 was chartered in 1924 with strong support of the Elders.
Rev. Arthur Moore 1937-40 Rev. Richard E. Plummer 1940-44 Rev Robert B. Giffen 1944-47
~Consistent with those prior, preaching, worship and mission continued at a high level. The war efforts were supported.
~Actions during these ministries included; terms of office, a conversion of the old kitchen into a church parlor, and Holy Communion to coincided with WorldWide Communion (first Sunday in October). The Austin Pipe Organ was dedicated. 1941 began the tradition of youth-led services. The children’s sermon was initiated. Session increased to nine.
~The 50th anniversary was celebrated -551 members. 201 Sunday School children and 33% of the budget was mission.
Rev. R. Paul Freed 1948-1958
~The continued interest to be ingrained in the community, in 1949, brought around the start of the College Hill Nursery School.
~The beginning of giving Christmas White Gifts first benefitted Big Lick, Tennessee and the Easton Children’s Home.
~In 1952 the rolling partition between the Sanctuary and Sunday School Room was replaced with the present folding divider which has designs depicting the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, the Bible, the Church, Holy Communion, and Eternal Life. The former Sunday School Room (adjacent to the sanctuary) was transformed into the Chapel of Prayer from a donation by the Howard Brainerd family.
~The first woman Elder was elected in 1955- Sarah Clark.
~In 1957 the Educational wing was added - carefully following the original design and materials of the established church. Office space, Fellowship Hall, and three levels of education rooms were, also, in the design.
Rev. Robert G. Sandercock 1958-1981
~Community involvement, strong worship and congregant fellowship characterized this period.
~The Adult Fellowship began. Congregants served Meals on Wheels. Scouting and youth programs were fully supported. ~Reeder Park property was purchased.
~The responsibility of the Strawberry Festival was shifted from the Women’s Association to the three Boards.
~In the 1970’s, when the choir became voluntary and larger, the organ was moved. The pulpit was moved from the central location in front of the organ. Three octaves of Malmark handbells were purchased to replace the White Chapel original set and accommodate the large teenage handbell choir. ProJeCt Literacy Center, an interfaith based organization- Protestant, Jewish, Catholic, began with several CHPC members as charter board members.
~We had Rev. Ferguson, Rev. Beck then Rev. Richard Nathan as Assistant Pastors.
Rev. Thomas Yorty 1983-1998
~Connections with the Easton faith community blossomed as did fellowship.
~Storytime for the younger children was reinstated during worship. The Adult Fellowship became reorganized into the Adult Dinner Group. Connections were made with Shiloh Baptist Church on Southside Easton. Attracting younger families was a focus. A DCE supported the Youth Groups.
~Music flourished with talents of George Gollub as organist and Music director.
~An emergency shelter for homeless men was established in Fellowship Hall during the cold winter of 1998, which led to the establishment of Easton’s Safe Harbor.
~100 years of ministry, 539 members and Sunday school with 129 children. 13% of the budget supported mission.
Rev. Robert C. Smith (RC) 2000-2018
~A gifted storyteller, RC, brought in worshipers. A variety of formats for worship have occurred. Weekly Joys and Concerns created a caring, supportive congregation. The fine musical tradition was intensified. Children and youth were guided by several Associate Pastors through the years. ( Rev. Kim-Kort, Rev. Lang, Rev. Tindall) The weekly Chewing on the Word (Bible study) and a mind provoking Sunday morning Adult Education inspired the adults.
~The youth and the membership fully supported being stretched into worldwide missions in Africa, Dominican Republic and a Partnership with the Hungarian Reform Church in Sovata, Romania.
~Community leadership was paramount in Interfaith Clergy, CROP Walk, racial dialogue, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and encouraging community groups to use the building which continues to ingrain the church locally.
~ George Laub and others donated the Nativity/Advent window which was installed in 2007 by replacing one of the original Sanctuary windows. A generous gift from JoAnn Rounsley’s estate in 2010 provided for a smaller Chapel, a gathering area, a greatly improved kitchen and a permanent handicap ramp. Most recently the sanctuary was air conditioned, pews refinished, and the roof repaired.
This congregation throughout its history has responded to the call to have faith in God and worship while extending our understanding of being Christian into our community all through the guidance of strong leadership. In one of Pastor Schall’s sermons, stated, “…I would be glad if a note could be struck that would sound and beat far into the future…” Touch a pew when in the sanctuary and briefly wonder who, throughout the years, might have been seated in that pew before you and how your belief is being heard into the future.
We're members of the Lehigh Presbytery, and send teaching elders and elder commissioners to the meetings of that council.