History of Our Meetinghouse

Mennonites first moved into the Conestoga area around 1717 and for many years they worshiped in homes.   The first meetinghouse was built of log about 1760 on Benedict Eshleman’s land.   Benedict’s last will and testament, signed in 1777, granted one acre of land for the use and benefit of the “Mennonist” congregation.   The new meeting house was called Eshleman’s.   In 1828 the log meetinghouse was replaced by a larger stone building.   The date-stone from this building can still be seen in the loft of the current structure.   Fifty four years later, in the summer of 1882, the second building was replaced by the present stone building.

1882 Stone ChurchPhoto from 1900

In Herald Of Truth, January 1, 1883, this note is found: “During the summer, the old meeting house at Miller’s, River Corners, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, was taken away and a commodious stone house was placed there instead.   The first service was held in it on Thursday December 7.   The meeting was largely attended, and the service was interesting.   Brother Amos Herr was the principal speaker.”

This building is a beautiful colonial-style stone structure, measuring 42’ wide and 62’ long.   It was first called Eshleman’s, later called Miller’s, and about the year 1900 it began to take the name given the local community known as the section near the river or “River Corner.”

1969 ChurchAugust 1969 photo

Numerous changes and improvements were made throughout the years.   In 1908 a shed was built for the protection of the horses, but by the 1920’s people were driving cars and the horse shed was eventually removed in 1953.   Around the year 1938, an electric line was built from Conestoga to River Corner and electricity was added to the church.   The wooden board fence around the cemetery was replaced in 1939 with a metal pipe fence.   In 1949 a basement was dug under the church and a furnace was added.   Restrooms and a cistern were added to the basement in 1953.   In 1970, a well was drilled, the cistern was removed from the basement, and the parking lot was paved.   The church property was surveyed in 1974 and a kitchen was installed in the basement in 1980.

1882 Stone ChurchCurrent church photo

The last major renovation in 1986 included adding a narthex to the north end of the building.   This addition also included a car port and Sunday School rooms under the narthex.   The interior was completely remodeled with stud walls and insulation added to the inside of the stone walls.   The building was upgraded to meet the current building codes and a handicap accessible bathroom was added to the main floor.   In recent years, a small playground that includes swings and a sliding board was added.   A large grassy area adjacent to the church provides a nice setting for community day events that are held every other year.

You are the salt of the earth.   But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?   It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.   You are the light of the world.   A city on a hill

cannot be hidden.     Matthew 5:13,14 (NIV)