Grossnickle Church of the Brethren
Continuing the work of Jesus. Peacefully. Simply. Together.
Our spiritual ancestors settled the upper Middletown Valley in the spring of 1756, moving from York County, Pennsylvania.
Elder Daniel Leatherman was leading worship services for about 20 adult members by 1760. Preaching services, love feasts and funerals were held at first in the homes of members. Many families invited the whole membership to services and for lunch afterwards.
The first permanent place of worship was the home of Peter Grossnickle, located on the hill across Middle Creek from the Grossnickle meeting house. Early services were both in English and in German.
The second place of worship was the home and barn of Michael Harshman. Meetings were held in the house during the winter and in the barn throughout the summer.
By the year 1770, the membership had become so large that all Love Feasts were held on the Harshman barn floor. This practice continued until the mid-1800’s.
In 1847 the first church building was constructed. The early Brethren called their churches simple "meeting houses," and avoided any sign of worldly extravagance in building or furnishing. In 1889 the present brick building was built and dedicated.
Until the 1960’s The Middletown Valley congregation was made up of three churches: Myersville, Harmony, and Grossnickle. Pastors served all three churches.
In 1968, the Grossnickle congregation employed its own pastor. The three congregations continue to enjoy brotherly/sisterly relationships For decades the Grossnickle congregation was known in the area for its Christmas plays and service projects in the community.
No complete list of ministers serving the Middletown Valley Congregation is available. The names we do have are as follows: Daniel Leatherman, Elder Hollar, John Bussard, Jacob Leatherman, Christian Harshman, Daniel Boyer, George Leatherman, John Grossnickle, Peter Leatherman, Jonathan Baker, John Easterday, Daniel Gibbon, John M. Bussard, George S. Harp, Daniel P. Sayler, Charles E. Ausherman, Charles N. Frushour, Robert J. Ridgeley, Irving R. Stottlemyer, Stewart Palmer, and C. Basil Grossnickle.
In 1924 McKinley Coffman was called as the first pastor of the Middletown Valley Congregation. Following him have been Tobias F. Henry, Samuel G. Fahnestock, Harper M. Snavely, Clarence R. Bowman, Clarence F. Holsopple. John F. Graham, Samuel D. Lindsey, Robert L. Strickler, Clyde Fry, Charles H. Cameron, Herman Baliles, Clyde E. Hylton, Ronald A. Beverlin, interim pastoral team of Jim Flora, Ron Ellis and Dave Dawson. Tim & Donna Ritchey Martin served as pastors from 1999 to 2020. Pastors Gene Hagenberger and Sandy Evans Rogers served as intern pastors from 2020 to 2021. Pastor Dan Johnson served as pastor from 2021 to 2022.
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