History

Cedar Grove Church History

The Cedar Grove Brethren In Christ church began in the mid 1800’s, not as a building but as a small body of believers. Their places of worship included The Pike Meeting House, Swamp School House, Red Rock School House and in various homes of members. At one time Cedar Grove nearly died out as a church. This caused concern, prayer and fasting. God heard and answered prayer and by 1928, a building fund began. Bishop Henry Hoffer felt it was time to build. In a letter to one of the brethren he wrote “I feel so blessed that the Lord laid this burden upon my heart that the time is here for you to build a church.” On February 22, 1930, it was decided by the council to build the church on the farm of Greely Gingrich, who donated the land. The Cedar Grove building was erected at a cost of $4,817.40. The church was dedicated on October 19, 1930 and was debt free!

Early Ministers

Several ministers served from the church’s inception, with three of them giving leadership at one time. This was without remuneration and in addition to providing for their families. These ministers included Charles Heister, William Longacre, Solomon Lauver, Paul Goodling, Harvey Lauver and Wilbur Benner. In 1952 the congregational leadership changed from having multiple ministers to one pastor, with Wilbur and Jane Benner serving as the first pastoral couple, until they left in October 1955, to serve with Brethren In Christ Missions in Kentucky. Edgar and Mary Keefer came to be our Interim Pastor until the Hesses came in 1957. Back in the 1950’s, many Brethren In Christ churches had a parsonage for the pastoral family. We, too, wanted to provide a home for our pastor. In 1957, a parsonage was built at the cost of about $13,000. Pastor Paul and Esther Hess and their family moved into the parsonage on December 26, 1957 and served until May 1962. Again, an Interim Pastor was called in the person of Harvey Lauver who led the church until July 1963, when Eugene and Dee Heidler, with their young son, came to be our pastoral couple.

First Building Project

God blessed the church under Pastor Heidler’s leadership and soon there was a need for enlargement and more adequate facilities, which brought about the building of an annex to the original church in 1965 at the cost of $17,000. As the Lord continued to meet with us, the average attendance increased from 101 to 180. In Pastor Heidler’s words, “God has chosen, in His wise providence, to raise up Cedar Grove to be an evangelical-holiness witness in Juniata County. The church has grown because of a forthright message of the power of Jesus Christ to change lives, and the spirit-filled life to give strength and courage to live victoriously.” More space was needed by 1975. The church took a big step forward with a campaign goal of $100,000. The goal was exceeded with a total of $101,465. The director of our campaign, Carl Keefer, said, “To the best of my knowledge, no other Brethren In Christ congregation of 72 members has been able to raise $100,000 over a 150 week period. You not only achieved the impossible, but you did it without major gifts. This is phenomenal in itself.

Ground was broken on March 21, 1976 with Pastor Heidler pushing a plow resulting in a new sanctuary, fellowship hall, narthex, renovation of the old building and grading and black-topping of the parking lot at the total cost of $285.000.

More Growth

As a result of the growth and advancement, Pastor Heidler appreciated the assistance of Ken Hepner who became Cedar Grove’s first Associate Pastor. With his wife Raina and two sons they began their ministry on March 11, 1979. They left Cedar Grove in June, 1985 to become Senior Pastoral couple at Mechanicsburg Brethren In Christ. Many personnel changes took place in the mid and late 1980’s. Eugene and Dee Heidler left September 1987 after giving twenty-four years of faithful service. On September 1988, Dale and Pauline Allison became our Senior Pastor couple. In 1991, Dale had to discontinue serving as Pastor. He passed away on April 6, 1991. This was a time of deep hurt and loss at Cedar Grove.

Again, God met our need for a Senior Pastor, in the person of Ken Letner and his wife Linda, who joined us with their three sons September 1991. And once again, God blessed and more space was needed. We had outgrown our facilities and more rooms were needed for Sunday School classes. The energies of Cedar Grove were again focused on the enlargement of a new Christian education wing. Our campaign was initiated, with a goal of cash pledges of $600,000. Other monies were received, making it possible to pay for the building in 41 months. Craig Zendt became Associate Pastor in June, 1992. Debby Bentch joined the staff in March 1998.

Church Planting

In the meantime Cedar Grove birthed two daughter churches. New Harvest in Millerstown opened its doors March 2001, with Warren Peachey as Sr. Pastor and in October 2004, The Upper Room Worship Center with Tony Rohrer as Sr. Pastor began its first worship service.

More Construction

It was the dream of many people for many years that a multi-purpose building would be provided and used in the community. The campaign was called “A Faith Step Today . . . A Bridge for Tomorrow,” with a goal of $700,000. And commitments amounted to $405,100. There was an offer by some to match funds received, dollar for dollar, up to $500,000. On January 4, 2004 the Life Center was dedicated. The building features a full basketball court, volleyball courts, additional classrooms, commercial kitchen and a large stage. Again, there was a pastor change. God laid His hand on Pastor Ken and called him to become Bishop of the Susquehanna Conference.


To the Ends of the Earth

In June 2003, Pastor Steve and Linda were installed as our new Pastoral couple. They came with years of experience and were used of God to lead His church at Cedar Grove. Under Pastor Munger’s ministry a Hispanic congregation was begun. A church plant in India was undertaken. Several short term missions trips to Haiti and other areas at home and abroad were completed. There were many salvations, many baptisms, many new members and much growth. During this time the church also faced many spiritual trials that left their impact. Pastor Munger, whose ministry ended in May, 2011, continued to exemplify Christlikeness throughout many crises and the church at Cedar Grove marches on and on! God has been faithful to His church over the past years, for which we praise Him. We walk into the future, confident of His guidance!