HOLLIDAYSBURG - From its beginnings as an offshoot of a church in Altoona to its present day status as an independent worship center, St. John's Reformed Church, 906 Maple Ave., has under gone a lot of changes in 100 years.
The 182 members will reflect on those changes when they hold a centennial celebration next weekend.
Events include a dinner to be held at 5 p.m. May 15 at the Masonic Hall. The observance continues at 9 a.m. May 16 when the Rev. David Haydu, pastor of the church for 18 years, delivers a message on the milestone.
Among those celebrating the 100th anniversary of (Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski) St. John’s Reformed Church in Hollidaysburg are (from left): Ken Mountain, consistory president; Tom Rice, consistory treasurer; the Rev. David Haydu; Eileen Snyder, consistory secretary; and Brian Bell, consistory vice president. A dinner will be held at 5 p.m. May 15 at the Masonic Hall.
Haydu attributes St. John's longevity to its members' faithfulness to Christ, and their proclaiming him in their words and actions.
The congregation will have a little fun commemorating the event by holding a baby picture contest and a trivia game based on church history. A power point rendition of church life will be presented by John Hovenstine.
The unofficial observance actually began in January when members began sharing memories in the church bulletins and singing favorite hymns during Sunday services.
Eileen Snyder, who has been a member of the church for 31 years, recalls working with the youth group during the mid-1980s as one of her favorite memories.
"Every time we had events, they were there," she said of the teens working at fundraisers such as spaghetti dinners and hoagie and cherry pie sales. Proceeds from the events were split between the church and a fund for the teens' trips.
With their portions, the teens took a trip to Niagara Falls one year and to Ocean City for 10 years.
"The youth group learned to work together. It was a great, great time," she said.
Today, the church is known for another of its fundraisers - its pancake breakfasts held in the spring and fall. While those proceeds benefit the church, Haydu said St. John's makes efforts to benefit others in the community and globally.
"We have a strong missions ministry," he said. Each month, the church gives to a different work whether it be local, national or international.
Locally, the church assists the American Rescue Workers in Hollidaysburg and offers three free lunches each winter as part of the Free Soup Program held Saturdays at churches in Hollidaysburg.
In the summer, the church hosts a free music festival featuring various gospel and contemporary Christian groups.
Snyder also has always seen it as a welcoming church. She and her family were looking for a church when they moved to the area from Bethlehem in the 1970s.
She said when visiting St. John's, "I could feel the love and concern the people had in the church, and I was drawn to it for that reason. It is a very close-knit church."
Snyder called it a "haven of hope, faith and love."
Members of the church have been meeting in that haven for 10 decades, almost since the church's initial formation.
St. John's Church began in the early 1900s as an offshoot of Trinity Reformed Church in Altoona. The Rev. George E. Limbert and Elder P. H. Bridenbaugh, pastors at Trinity, organized a small group in Hollidaysburg at Wolf's Hall. As the group expanded, it desired to build a church.
The construction of the sandstone building began in 1908, on June 6, 1909, the cornerstone was laid, and on May 8, 1910, a dedication ceremony was delivered by the Rev. James R. Bergey of Trinity Church and the Rev. Albert F. Nace of St. Paul's in Juniata. In May of 1915, the parsonage was added. The most recent addition took place in 1998. It included four Sunday school rooms, an office, restrooms and storage space.
St. John's also has changed denominations through the years.
Its roots are as a German Reformed church, but it became St. John's Evangelical and Reformed Church in 1934 when the Reformed Church in the United States and Evangelical Synod of North American united.
In 1957, a new merger took place with the Congregational Christian Churches, and St. John's United Church of Christ was formed. In 2006, St. John's withdrew from the United Church of Christ and became independent. Haydu said the church took back its original name - St. John's Reformed Church, meaning its subscribes to the principles of the Protestant Reformation.