History of Danville, Christ's Episcopal Church

Created: Thursday, 11 December 2008 Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 February 2014 Written by Nathan Zipfel Print Email
Christ's Episcopal Church

On the 28th day of October, 1828, the corner-stone of the Protestant Episcopal church was laid in Danville. Previous to that period a number of early settlers who had wandered beyond the reach of their respective congregations found themselves deprived of the, privileges and ordinances in which they had been reared. Actuated by a common impulse they began to meet together for religious worship. Under these circumstances the prejudices of early life speedily gave way, and soon the flock was characterized by a oneness of heart and mind. For some time they had occasional services in the court-house, under the ministration of Reverend James Depuy, of Bloomsburg, who also became their regular pastor for two or three years, after the church was built. The lot on which the church and parsonage are erected is situated in a central location, on Market street. The building originally cost about $6,000, the chief burden of which was borne by a few individuals. The following gentlemen composed the vestry at the period when the corner-stone was laid: Joseph Maus, John Reynolds, Jacob Swisher, Peter Baldy and Michael Sanders, George A. Frick and B. Appleman. But, strange as it may seem, there was not a single communicant of the Episcopal church among them. Peter Baldy and Michael Sanders were members of the Evangelical Lutheran church at that time. Mr. Sanders adhered to the Lutherans subsequently, but Mr. Baldy became an Episcopalian. Some of the founders proposed to devote the now church building to the use of both the Lutherans and Episcopalians ; but they soon discovered its impracticability, and all finally agreed that the church should be devoted to the exclusive use of the Protestant Episcopal service. On the 25th day of October, 1829, just one year after the cornerstone was laid, the first communicants of the church, ten in number, were confirmed by the Right Reverend Henry W. Onderdonk. Reverend James Depuy labored faithfully among them, and under his pastoral charge the foundations of a permanent congregation were laid. He is still remembered as a man of learning, of eminent piety, and deep devotion to the responsible duties of his position. He is described as rather tall and slender in personal appearance, light complexion, amiable countenance, and a good speaker. He was very acceptable to his people. He was last heard of in Nebraska. Reverend Mr. Drake, of Bloomsburg, supplied the pulpit occasionally after the departure of Reverend Depuy. Reverend A. Landerback was the next rector. He remained for about five years. He at the same time had charge of the church at Sunbury. He is, also, affectionately remembered by the older members. He removed to Iowa. The next in order was Reverend R. M. Mitchison, who remained only about six months and was succeeded by Reverend Milton C. Lightner who assumed the charge in 1842. He officiated in Christ's church for about seven years with great acceptance. He removed to Manayunk, and Reverend Mr. Elsegood, formerly a minister in the Methodist denomination, took his place in Danville. At the end of two years Reverend Mr. Elsegood removed to Easton and was succeeded here by Reverend Mr. Page of New York, who also remained two years. In February, r855, Reverend Edwin N. Lightner, brother to Reverend Milton C. Lightner, succeeded to the charge of Christ's church, and continued its rector until May, 1870, when the loss of health compelled him to resign the charge. Reverend Edwin N. Lightner occupied a high place in the affection and confidence of the community, as well as in the hearts of the people to whom he ministered for about fifteen years. He resides in Riverside. In September, 1870, Reverend J. Milton Peck was called to the rectorship of Christ's church, in which he still continues. His ministration seems very acceptable to his people and the church is prospering under his care.

In 1845, some improvements were made in the church buildings, and in 1856 the congregation spent nearly $3,000 in improving and beautifying both the interior and the exterior of the building. It now presents a very handsome appearance with its stylish architecture, its brilliant stained glass and general ornamentation. It is surmounted by a double cross rising in solemn grandeur amidst a beautiful grove of forest trees, and an excellent bell calls the worshipers to the sanctuary. The interior is ornamented in appropriate style and is furnished with an excellent organ. A pleasant parsonage adjoins the church. It is proper to say that Mr. Peter Baldy, Sr., one of the founders of the church, has been its main support for more than half a century up to the time of his death in x88o, and left to the church $50,000 in his will.

SOURCE:  Page(s) 49-51; Danville, Montour County Pennsylvania; D.H.B. Brower, Harrisburg; 1881