Thursday, January 13, 2011

Dunmyer Lutheran Church


Located at 547 Schoolhouse Road in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, this church has a Congregation of the North American Lutheran Church and a Lutheran Core Congregation. That congregation has over 150 years of service, and its mission statement is to carry on the work of Christ.

HISTORY
The Evangelical Lutheran Church was organized under the supervision of Reverend Peter Salem in 1849, at the farm of Lewis Donmyer in the area of Dunmyer Cemetery which was part of Richland Township at that time. Services were held in this home and barn until the first church was erected on a plot of land belonging to Lewis Donmyer. Subscriptions for the church were started in 1853. The first communion that was recorded was held in August of 1853 with 33 members in attendance. In 1855 service were held once a month, but in 1856 services were held every two weeks. In 1859, Rev. Kuhlman became the pastor of a four-church charge, called the Jefferson Mission, which consisted of Jefferson, Sidman, Scalp Level, and Elton Lutheran Churches. The first communion was held in July of 1859 and preaching was once each two weeks in each of the congregations. It was during the latter part of the nineteenth century that the movement began to change the location of the church to the Village of Elton.

The corner stone for the new church in Elton was laid in June of 1898. Dedication of the church took place in the spring of 1899, at which time Rev. William Spangler preached the dedicatory sermon. The old church was sold to the Mennonites, who moved it to a site just above Salix. During the pastorate of Walter Smith, who resigned in June of 1961, plans were formulated for an addition to the church but were eventually abandoned.

After much inquiry and negotiation, the 8.22 acre site on Schoolhouse Road, one mile from the old site, was purchased at a cost of $20,000 from the Berwind Corporation. The site was blessed in October of 1967. Burt-Hill and Associates, Butler Pennsylvania, was engaged for architectural service and completed a master site plan. The master plan was adopted by the congregation in 1969. The old Dunmyer Church was totally destroyed by arson torch of three teen-age youths not related to the congregation in 1969.

In October of 1970, dedication services were held. There was a sanctuary unit, five classrooms, an office, and restrooms. All were in the first unit of the master plan. The church was open to the general public in November, along with the laying of the corner stone in mid-November. Some updates and revisions have been made, but the church structure today is still similar.

WHAT TO SEE
There are many interesting features of the church including the inside and the outside of the church. Viewers can appreciate these features at any time and are welcome to attend services on Sundays.

The churches shape is interesting for different reasons. As one looks at the churches fa├žade, it might be noticed that the actual building is shaped to replicate the form of a cross. Above the entrance is a cross, which also helps define the shape of the building. The additions were built to look similar the stone look of the original building, and the buildings location with nature gives the church a spiritual feeling.

As one walks through the entrance, down the aisle is the altar. The ceiling has arches, which seem to mimic Romanesque vaulting. There is a central aisle between the rows of pews, and alter is the center focus of the building. Though there are plenty of windows for lighting, none of them are stained-glass.

The church has a relatively small congregation and the style and size of the building give this religious place an inviting feel. The church is not ornately decorated, which adds to the welcoming sense, and there is also a sense of peace and harmony within the building.

QUICK FACTS
Name: Dunmyer Lutheran Church
Location: 547 School House Road, Elton, PA 15934
Religious Affiliation: Evangelical Lutheran
Date of Construction: 1969-70
Architect: C.B. Murray
Building Style: Modern
Plan Type: open hall
Primary Materials: Brick, stone
Status: Active

SOURCES
Dunmyer Lutheran Church Congregation and Pastor

researched by Karl Hofmann

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