History

The History of Point Pleasant Community Baptist Church
Point Pleasant, PA

Point Pleasant Baptist Church

The founding of Point Pleasant Community Baptist Church was the result of the missionary activities of Rev. Joseph Matthias, better known as ‘Father Matthias,’ minister of Hilltown Baptist Church 1807-1850.

During his pastorate at Hilltown, Joseph Matthias traveled on horseback, visiting schools in this vicinity and preaching for them for a number of years prior to the establishment of a church in Point Pleasant. When the church was organized, it seems these schools became part of this institution. He was active in organizing many new congregations, among which were Stroudsburg in 1830 and Easton in 1837.

After The Service

As early as 1832 a Sunday school was held at the River Hill schoolhouse, with John S. Eisenbrey as superintendent. In 1848 the River Hill Sunday School enrolled 73 scholars, with N. L. Schwartz as superintendent and 11 teachers. The books in use were the New Testament and a small hymn book. In the early 1840’s, he frequently preached and baptized at Plumstead, the converts joining his church in Hilltown.

This state of affairs continued until 1849, with Father Matthias preaching at both the River Hill and the Smith’s Corner schoolhouses as often as he could, until his retirement in 1850. His home church gave him permission to administer the sacraments to those of their members living in the vicinity of Point Pleasant. Joseph Matthias died in 1851.

River Hill School

During the summer of 1849, the Plumstead believers met at the old River Hill schoolhouse, with Rev. John S. Eisenbrey preaching for them. The distance from Point Pleasant to Hilltown made it very inconvenient to enjoy church privileges, and soon a desire came to have a church nearer home. Sometime during the summer of 1849 they decided to form a congregation of their own, and on July 21, 1849, they requested the Hilltown church to grant them permission to do so.

Early River Baptism

Accordingly, a council consisting of Rev. Joseph Matthias of Hilltown, Rev. Joseph Wright of Solebury, and Rev. Herman Lincoln of New Britain met with the brethren at the River Hill schoolhouse on Saturday, September 1, 1849, to organize them into a church body. Rev. John S. Eisenbrey was the minister. The name of this newly formed congregation was the ‘Plumstead Baptist Church.’ On the following Sunday, September 2, 1849, it celebrated its first communion and received the first new members by letter.

At the beginning of the year 1850, the little band numbered 35 persons, fairly well organized and in good working order. The meetings were held part of the time in the River Hill schoolhouse and part of the time at the schoolhouse at Smith’s Corner. During the winter of 1849-1850 a revival meeting was held and two persons were baptized, being the first to come into the congregation in this manner.

Rev. Eisenbrey was pastor until September 1, 1850, when he resigned. School teacher John C. Hyde preached for them occasionally during the winter and became the pastor on April 1, 1851, being ordained two weeks later.

The church moved from the River Hill schoolhouse to the new Point Pleasant schoolhouse, probably during the winter of 1850-1851. Until this time, the congregation was known as the Plumstead Baptist Church, but as they were now holding their meetings in Tinicum Township, it was decided on April 12, 1851, to change the name to Point Pleasant Baptist Church.

By April 1852 the membership had grown to 51 and in May 1852, the members resolved to erect a building of their own. Rev. Hyde gave up his teaching and devoted his entire time to his ministerial work. The erection of the building began at once, and on August 26, 1852, the cornerstone was laid. After a year of earnest preserving labor on the part of the pastor and members, assisted by the people of the community, the church was ready for dedication on September 17, 1853. At this time there was a membership of 53 persons—12 males and 41 females. When the cost of the building and the labor involved is taken into consideration, we can form some conception of the faith that must have inspired them to go forwarding the work, trusting God for help.

The building when finished cost $4,685.76—of this amount, $1,332.92 was raised in the neighborhood and $1,262.34 was raised from sister churches and other sources, leaving a debt of $1,690.50 upon the building at completion. The following churches contributed to the building fund:  Baptisttown, Flemington, Plainfield, Sandy Ridge, and Burlington in New Jersey and Montgomery, Lower Dublin, Norristown, Hilltown, New Britain, Great Valley, and Hatboro in Pennsylvania.

In 1859 the church petitioned the courts of Bucks County to become a corporate body, which petition was granted, and a charter issued on September 16, 1859. This charter placed the secular work of the church in the hands of five trustees, elected annually by the church.

In the period from 1862 to 1865, under the guidance of Pastor David Spencer, $1,200.00 of the debt on the building was cancelled. The basement fitted up for a lecture and Sunday school room, the pastor’s salary was raised $200.00 and 61 persons were added to the church roll.

During the troublesome times from 1861 to 1865, the members of the church, irrespective of party lines and affiliations, were outspoken in their loyalty to the cause of the Union. In July 1864 the church was without a pastor and clerk for a short time. The pastor was on a visit to the army hospitals in and around Washington, DC, and the clerk, Brother Ralph Stover, had gone to the same place to bring home the body of his son, who fell while defending the flag and died in the hospital.

The last payment on the building debt was made in 1867. Thirty-one more persons were added to the rolls by 1869. On April 1, 1870, the present parsonage was purchased. During Rev. Hiles’s pastorate this debt was entirely cancelled.

Rev. Frank C. Colby, of Lambertville Baptist Church, was engaged to supply the pulpit during the summer of 1878. On Thanksgiving evening of that year, he began a series of meetings that extended throughout that whole winter and resulted in one of the greatest revival periods the church has been blessed with in its history. More than 200 persons asked for the prayers of God’s people, while 134 were baptized and received into the fellowship of the church. On Christmas morning of that year 1878, 50 persons were baptized in the Delaware River.

The Ladies’ Mite Society was organized on January 17, 1884, by Rev. E. I. McKeever, Pastor, with 33 charter members. Dues were 5 cents a week (just a ‘mite’), kept in a ledger and collectors sent around. The object of the society was to raise money by caring for the mites as they accumulate, expending them where they will do the most good to the church property, such as for paint and paper, new carpet, new lamps, and pulpit furniture. The ladies paid several hundred dollars of the debt on the church property and at times toward the support of the pastor, helping keep the church on a firm financial basis.

One September 1, 1899, the 50th anniversary was celebrated with former pastor Dr. David Spencer preaching the jubilee sermon.

On September 3, 1919, under the guidance of Rev. Howard Zepp, the 70th anniversary was celebrated with the dedication of the new pipe organ, the gift of Mrs. Eliza Troemmer, in member of her husband.

The 75th anniversary was celebrated on September 7-8, 1924, with Dr. Charles C. Earle officiating. Dr. Earle was pastor for 21 years, a gentle man, and beloved in the church and in the community.

The Women’s Missionary Society was organized by Mrs. Earle in 1924. The organization was formed to aid missions—both at home and abroad, and still exists under the name of American Baptist Women’s Ministries of Point Pleasant.

The church building was originally lighted with oil lamps, followed by an acetylene gas system (water for which was carried from one of the streams), then a Delco battery system, and then an incandescent light system survived from outside sources. In 1949 modern light fixtures were installed.

During 1948-1949 the faithful members of the church laboriously removed the hard rock ledge which occupied about one-third of the basement area, constructing an enlarged Sunday school room, a craft room, a modern kitchen, and toilet facilities. They also renovated the main auditorium and drilled a well, all at a cost of $6,000.00, in preparation of the 100th anniversary.

The old schoolhouse was build about 1850. It was Point Pleasant School District No. 13, Tinicum Township. This is where the first members of Point Pleasant Baptist church worshipped and planned the new church building they would erect. After the school closed, it served as a community library. In 1957, during the ministry of Rev. B. Gale Tichenell, the church acquired the building and renovated it for offices and a classroom.

In 1971, led by Rev. James W. Dagino, the former Slotter property was purchased for additional parking and a Christian education building. The debt of $35,000 was soon paid in full, due to a successful pledge campaign and many fundraising events.

The original plastered exterior of the church was removed and the stone walls pointed in 1983.

While  Rev. William F. Hopkins was minister, the hand bells and chimes were purchased, and Mrs. Hopkins founded both handbell and chime choirs.

Baptisms are still held in the Delaware River. Communion is observed the first Sunday of each month.

Easter is celebrated with a community sunrise service in the Point Pleasant cemetery, followed by breakfast at the church for everyone.

The Christmas program with live nativity scene and the Christmas Eve candlelight service are also community traditions.

Quoting from ‘The Historical Sketch of the Point Pleasant Baptist Church,’ prepared by Ben C. Young for the 50th anniversary held on Friday, September 1, 1899:

“And now we conclude our brief and imperfect review of the first 50 years of our church history. In it we find that the church life is much the same as that of the individual—sometimes on the mountain top, sometimes in the valley. But we also find, that no matter how dark and dreary the way became at times to the members of the church, the Lord always had a remnant left who were willing to put their shoulders to the wheel and push forward, keeping the eyes of faith upon Him who is able to help in all times of need. And so, through their efforts, we find today that during these long years of work, the church has been maintained in its entire organization. No one from our point of observation can estimate the blessed results of these years of labor, the souls saved, humanity uplighted, homes made brighter and happier, growing out of the organization and career of this church.

An now, may our father’s God, from out of whose hands the centuries fall like grains of sand, continue to this church through the years to come the property and blessings which He has given us in the past. And when the 100th anniversary comes around, may this church still be a beacon light to the Point Pleasant of that day, and its historians be able to report an ever widening influence for  God, home, and native land.”

Pastors
John S. Eisenbrey......................... 1849 - 1850
John C. Hyde.............................. 1851 - 1854
W. B. Shrope.............................. 1854 - 1856
E. S. Widdemer............................ 1855 - 1857
H. C. Putman.............................. 1857 - 1861
David Spencer............................. 1862 - 1865
J. H. Appleton............................ 1865 - 1865
David Menige.............................. 1866 - 1869
Joseph Hammitt............................ 1879 - 1880
George Young.............................. 1879 - 1880
F. C. Colby............................... 1879 - 1880
George Young.............................. 1880 - 1882
E. I. McKeever............................ 1883 - 1884
W. P. Hile................................ 1885 - 1888
L. B. Underwood........................... 1889 - 1889
A. L. Miller.............................. 1890 - 1892
E. Earnest Northen........................ 1893 - 1894
W. Frank Johnson.......................... 1895 - 1897
W. S. S. Warden........................... 1898 - 1900
Robert Chew............................... 1900 - 1903
Bartalett A. Bowers....................... 1906 - 1909
T. Clifton Harris......................... 1909 - 1910
George W. Lamborne........................ 1910 - 1915
J. W. Scott............................... 1916 - 1918
Howard I. Zepp............................ 1918 - 1920
William T. Thompson....................... 1920 - 1922
Charles C. Earle.......................... 1922 - 1943
Lloyd Fesmire............................. 1944 - 1945
Joseph Matthews........................... 1945 - 1946
Kenneth L. Smith.......................... 1947 - 1947
Ames C. Hanna............................. 1947 - 1949
William C. Reardon........................ 1949 - 1952
Arthur F. Thurber......................... 1952 - 1956
B. Gale Tichenell......................... 1956 - 1960
Mott A. Cumby............................. 1961 - 1966
William P. Lewis.......................... 1966 - 1970
James W. Dagino........................... 1971 - 1980
William F. Hopkins........................ 1980 - 1997
Mary Jane Leech........................... 1998 - 2001
John R. Loring............................ 2003 - 2010
L. Kim Egolf-Fox, Interim Pastor.......... 2010 - 2011
Rev. Dr. Brady McDaniels.................. Dec 2011 - Oct. 2014

Brenda Egolf-Fox, Interim Pastor.......... Nov. 2014 - present