(formerly Lybarger Lutheran Church)

Contributed by Valerie Burkett


The Early Years:
On November 17, 1805, a small group of Lutherans, led by Reverand Henry Hanker, gathered at the Wills Creek home of Henry Lybarger and took part in the sacrament of the Holy Communion. And thus began the formal, recorded history of what is today Christ (formerly Lybarger) Evangelical Lutheran Church. There were 26 participants at that first communion table. They were:
Christopher Ball, Rachel Ball, Mary Crise, Elizabeth Cupp, Peter Cupp, Catherine Fait, Frederick Fait, Susanna Fait, Mary Fisher, Hannah Haines, Mary Helms, Adam Lybarger, Barbara Lybarger, Daniel Lybarger, Henry Lybarger, Sr., Ludwick Lybarger, Sr., Mary Reams, Sarah Smith, Mary Wagaman, Jesse Walker, Andrew Wolford, Catherine Wolford, Charlotte Wolford, Frederick Wolford, Sr., Joseph Wolford, and Mary Wolford.

Many of the names are familiar bacause the descendants of those people still live and work in the Madley/Wills Creek area. But who were those people? Where did they come from? How did they come to be worshipping at Henry Lybarger's house? .

History doesn't record many details of those early times or of those people, but it is likely that the lives of most of them closely paralleled the lives and history of the Lybarger family. .

Ludwick, George, and Nicholas Liberger, sons of Johann Adam Liberger, who immigrated to America shortly after1771 and settled along Little Wills Creek in what was to eventually become Londonderry Township. At that time, the Libergers and their neighbors were living on the very edge of the frontier and were forced several times to flee to Cumberland, Maryland, to escape the Indians. But they persevered and, bit by bit, they pushed the frontier westward. .

It is not known how or where those early settlers worshipped, but since a great many of them were of German descent, it is likely that some of them were Lutherans. That they were able to preserve their faith from 1771 until 1805 without a minister or an organized and regular worship service, is truly remarkable. .

The first communion service in November 1805 marked the beginning of a church, then known as Wills Creek Lutheran, that has ministered to the people of the Madley area through the good times and through the bad. .


Reverand Hanker, the horseback minister, who also preached in Friend's Cove, Dunning's Creek, Groundhog Valley, and Comp's Church in Somerset County, continued to hold services in Henry Lybarger's house until 1813-- more than 8 years. .

Then, as he mounted hi horse after one of the services at Wills Creek, he said,"It seems to me that this is the last time I shall preach to you." His premonition proved true, for on his way home, he drowned in Big Wills Creek. .

It was not until June 26, 1814� that the Lutherans again gathered for communion. The Reverand E. H. Tiedeman, of Somerset, administered the sacrament. Forty people recieved the Lord's Supper that day.

There is no record of any other services performed by Reverand Tiedeman, but he no doubt preached occasionally for the Wills Creek congregation. In 1819, Reverand Jacob Crigler became its pastor. During Reverand Crigler's tenure, 1819-1834, the Wills Creek Church was part of the Berlin charge which also included: Berlin, St. Michael's, Gebbart, Union Church, and Schaefer's School-house. .

In 1839, the Wills Creek congregation contracted with Mr. Josiah Miller to build a frame church 28 by30 feet, for $400. It was built on a lot given to the congregation by David and Catherine Moser. It sat near Little Wills Creek, a short distance east of the Madley Station. The church was dedicated on June 13. 1841, with the name, The Evangelical Lutheran Zion Church on Little Wills Creek. Reverand Lewis Guistiniani, D.D., was the pastor and the Lord's Supper was administeredd on the day of dedication. Reverand Guistiniani, in his report to the "Lutheran Observer" of July 9, 1841, says, "The service was solemn and the multitude of people so great that the third of them could not enter the church." It's no wonder. It must have been a spiritual feast to the people after their services for nearly 40 years at private homes, first at Henry Lybarger's and later at the David Lybarger farm(later owned by Daniel Yutzey). .


In 1845, the Berlin charge was divided, and the Wills Creek Church formed a new charge along with Schellsburg, Dry Ridge, and Cumberland Valley. Daniel S. Altman became its first pastor on January 1, 1846. .

In 1858, the Wset End charge was formed consisting of the congregations at Cumberland Valley, Dry Ridge, Union(Mt. Zion), and Wills Creek. Reverand David Stufft became its pastor in April, 1859. Synod appropriated $50 to the charge and also added the Mt. Olive, Mull's, and Comp's congregations. .

About 1860, Josiah Miller deeded four aces of land to the congregation, upon which to build a parsonage. The parsonage was located on the east side of Wills Creek, nearly opposite the place where the Madley School once stood. Reverand Stufft built the parsonage at a cost of $900. However, when Reverand D. S. A. Tomlinson became pastor in 1877, he would not move into the parsonage, and a house at Mt. Zion was rented where he lived for 2 years. The parsonage was sold for $250 and a one- acre lot was bought at West End for $100. Here, under the direction of Reverand Tomlinson, a house,28 by 36 feet, was built at a cost of $1,900. The location of the parsonage was unfortunate. It was 2 miles from Mt. Zion, the nearestchurch, and 6 miles from the railroad. At the time, however, grading for the South Penn Railroad, which ran nearby, was going on, and the collapse of that undertaking was entirely unexpected. .


In 1883, the Wills Creek congregation embarked on yet another building program. They sold their church building to the school board for $175 and a new church was built on land donated by David Lybarger, near Madley, about one- fourth mile west of the first church. .

The cornerstone was laid October 13, 1883, and the church was dedicated December 23, 1883. The pastor, D. S. A. Tomlinson, was assisted by Reverand J. H. Walterick, of Schellsburg. The church cost about $1,400. F. A. Miller, Aaron Luman, and E. E. Ball were the building committee. .

In the fall of 1899, work was started on an extension of 12 feet to the lenght of the main building, a pulpit recess to the rear of the church, and a vestibule and belfry in front. The church was rededicated in August, 1900. .


The Second Century: From the beginning of its second century until 1930, the Wills Creek Church had an average of 46 communing members. The lack of growth in church membership can be attributed partly to the fact that during those thirty years a succession of ten different ministers preached from its pulpit. .

The year 1930 brought with it the great depression, but it also brought with it the calling of Reverand H. M. Petrea to the Wills Creek Church. He served the congregation from 1930-1945 and he seems to have inspired a revival in spirit and action among the people. .

�In 1931, things really began to happen. The church council borrowed $48.96 from the Sunday School to buy 25 hymnals, fix the furnace, and repair the parsonage. Book racks were built and installed on the pews. The Ladies Aid donated a piano and new gas lights. The women also purchased the lumber for the church platform. And the roof was repaired and painted. .

On July 2,1932, the church council deeded the Lybarger Cemetary over to the newly formed Lybarger Lutheran Cemetary Association before squire Hillegas at Buffalo MIlls. The members of the association were: H. L. Shroyer, E. W. Stouffer, Stanley Shroyer, Edmond Manges, A. A. Holler, and Randolph Wills.

The next several years saw a slow but steady growth in church membership. And the congregation also managed to pay its bills during those years. The 1934 Treasurer's report for the last six months of the year shows a total income of $214.03 with expenses being $194.99($137.50 being Reverand Petrea's salary). The balance at the end of the year was $19.04.

A "church improvement fund" was started in November 1936 and work commenced on improvements to the basement. That work was finished in April,1938 with the raising of steel columns, and, of course, the finish work. Council also voted that year to install electric lights in the church. The complete wiring job, including fixtures and wire, cost $43.42.

Over the years, the church had come to be called Lybarger Lutheran and on March 16, 1943, the name became official. The decree of incorporation was approved by Judge Colvin Wright and the seal of the court of common pleas of Bedford County was placed on it by Prothonotary, Harry L. Ritchie.

There was one more very important thing accomplished during Reverand Petrea's ministry and that was the dedication of the bell. It was purchased from the Camp Run Evangelical Church for $50.00 and dedicated August 27, 1944. That same bell has been calling people to Sunday morning worship services ever since.


After Reverand Petrea left Lybarger in 1945, Reverand Frank Herzel served here until 1948. Then Mr. Homer Duppstadt was the supply preacher until the Reverand James Scharf was called in 1952.

In the early 1950's, under the leadership of Reverand Scharf, a major renovation of the church took place. New walls, flooring, pews, and church furniture were installed. An d the crowning touch was the addition of stained glass windows which helped make the building an unusually attractive rural church.

In 1957, the congregatin petitioned conference to divide the Schellsburg-West End charge into two charges, one to consist of Lybarger, Mt. Olive, and Mt. Zion and the other, St. Matthew and St. James congregations. Conference did so. At almost the same time all this was taking place, Lybarger and Mt. Olive decided to build a parsonage. It was located along Rt. 96, a short distance from the Lybarger Church.


After Reverand Scharf retired in June of 1961, the church was once again without a regular ordained minister, and for the next year, church services were conducted by supply pastors. But help was on the way. During the summer of 1961, a team ministry program, designed to serve the large number of vacant congregations in Bedford County, was organized. The Reverand Jack E. Stouffer, the Reverand H. Lee Hebel, and layassistant Charles Bockhouse were called to staff the new Bedford County Area Lutheran Ministry (BCALM). Their work began in June, 1962.

It was during 1964 that serious talks about a new church for the Lybarger congregation were started. Due mostly to the crowded conditions of the Sunday School, the congregation voted to establish a building fund with the goal being a new church. They also voted to purchase an additional two acres of land from Bob Wills to got with the three acres he had donated.

Another parish realignment took place in June of 1965. The congregation voted to abolish the West End Parish and create a new parish consisting of Bortz, Lybarger, and Mt. Olive. Reverand Dwight Putnam was called to serve this new Southern Parish.

Reverand Putnam resigned after only two years and once agian Lybarger found itself relying on supply pastors. Earli in 1968, the idea of a cooperative ministry with Trinity in Bedford was discussed and on June 2nd of that year the congregation voted to approve the plan. On September 1, 1968, Bald Hill, Bortz, Lybarger, St. James, St. Mark, and Trinity embarked on the ministry known as the Greater Bedford Luthran Parish. Reverand Richard L. Tome was the pastor of Trinity at that time and he was joined by Reverand John Rodgers and Intern Charles Stetler.

During the thirteen years that the Greater Bedford Lutheran Parish has been in existance, many good things have come out of it. For one thing, there is always an ordained Lutheran minister just a phone call away. Enrichment programs held on a parish-wide basis provide not only valuable training but also a chance for fellowship with other Christians from a much larger area. And at the same time the benefits of a much larger parish are being reaped, the freedom to conduct individual services, Bible schools, and special projects is never denied.


Today, the congregation at Madley is 139 active members strong. It took faith to stand beside a weather-beaten sign in the middle of a field on May 25, 1980, and turn the first spadeful of dirt for the new site of a new church building. November 1, 1981, a new church building and name was dedicated-Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church of Madley, Pennsylvania.


Special Thanks To...
Vanira Wilkins

For the many hours spent researching this history.

Contributed by Valarie Burkett for use by the Bedford County Genealogy Project (

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