The Early Years
In the 1880’s, a nucleus of people began meeting together in the Waynesboro community with the hope of beginning a new church congregation that would have association with the United Brethren denomination. The group met together in the Jason Bell Pottery Shop on South Potomac Street, in a room above the Adams and Cline Plumbing Shop on the square, and in the Fairview School building on West Main Street. Ultimately, the majority of the meetings were held in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Noah Spangler.
In 1900, Rev. W.R. Burkholder was assigned by the Pennsylvania Conference of the United Brethren denomination as the pastor to the group. He was succeeded by the Rev. Peter Nicklas who was instrumental in leading the congregation in building their first sanctuary for worship and helping the congregation formally join together as a United Brethren congregation. Rev. Nicklas loaned the funds for the initial building and Mr. and Mrs. Jeremiah Piper donated the land at Cleveland, Hamilton, and Third Streets. The original building was 29 ft. by 39 ft. and cost $1,480 and was dedicated on October 20, 1901 debt free.
During the early years of the congregation, the church met at their location which became known as the church on the “triangle.” The church grew in number and needed to enter into a number of building projects to make room for those who attended. In 1911, a parsonage was added to the church under the leadership of Rev. George Perry. In 1921, a 60 ft. by 46 ft. Sunday School addition was added under the leadership of Rev. Earl W. Shoap. In 1932, the men of the church excavated a portion of the basement to provide additional Sunday School classrooms. Because of the continued growth in the Sunday School program, the men of the church excavated the ground under the original church building in 1947-1948 to provide for additional classes. This project was done under the leadership of Rev. A.E. Martin.
A Move to Park Street
By the early 1950’s, worship attendance was near 175 persons and Sunday School attendance was approaching 300 persons. In July of 1953, under the pastoral leadership of Rev. Leroy Perry, an agreement was entered into with Wayne Homes, Inc. to acquire a parcel of ground (376 ft. by 192 ft.) located on the corner of Park and Ninth Streets. The property was donated to the church by Wayne Homes, Inc. and the first unit was built at the new location in 1958. The unit was primarily for Christian Education, but included a temporary sanctuary (current day lobby). The original buildings were sold in 1960 and a new Williamsburg Colonial style house was built on the southern corner of the property to be used as a parsonage for the pastor. Today, the house is used for our Biblical Counseling ministry and classroom/meeting space.
In 1965, as the congregation was nearing the completion of the payment of the indebtedness for the parsonage and first unit, plans were made to build the main sanctuary. Rev. George E. Weaver was the pastor at that time and on March 19, 1967, ground was broken for the new structure which is the present day church sanctuary. The first unit was also renovated with the total project costing over $425,000. Because of the sacrificial giving of the congregation, the entire debt was paid off by 1980.
The Growing Years and
Additional Facility Expansion
In the mid-1980’s, the church began another season of growth in worship attendance. To accommodate the increased growth, the church decided to add an additional worship service on Sunday mornings. In August 1991, the church renovated the front of the sanctuary to allow for growth in the choir and the pulpit was moved to the center of the platform. The lobby area was also expanded at that time to allow for greater room for fellowship between worship services.
In 1993, the Otterbein Church purchased the Keystone Ford property to the south of the church. The building was renovated into the current Otterbein Ministry Center. Most of the work was completed by the members and attenders of the church and was dedicated to the Lord’s service in November 1995. The final completion of the Otterbein Ministry Center was done in the fall of 1996. The Otterbein Ministry Center is home to the Waynesboro Senior Center which has leased space from the church since 1995. It has also become a facility regularly used by the church and community for all kinds of events and ministries.
In the fall of 1997, the lobby area of the church was again renovated to allow for additional space for the congregation between worship services. The church also added a third worship service in 1998 along with a second Sunday School hour to allow for more space for those who attend. The nursery area was expanded multiple times during the 1990’s along with other Sunday School classrooms which were relocated or renovated to provide additional ministry space.
In the spring of 2000, Otterbein Church purchased the Star Electric property located on the north side of the Ministry Center to be used as a youth center and for additional classroom space. The men and women of the church again did most of the work themselves in preparing the facility for ministry use.
Throughout 2002 and 2003, the leadership of Otterbein Church began to discuss how they would address future facility needs as the church continued to grow. After months of prayer, study, and discussion, the Elders and Management Oversight Team voted unanimously in the fall of 2003 to begin the process of relocation from the current location to another location in Waynesboro. In February 2004, Otterbein Church purchased 52 acres of land on Welty Road in the Borough of Waynesboro for future development and relocation.
In 2008, Otterbein added an additional building on campus to help provide space for our youth and other ministries of the church. The “Sprung” building is a semi-permanent structure that sits behind the Youth Ministry Center building.
Sending People Out for Ministry
Throughout the years, Otterbein Church has not only focused on reaching the community for Christ, but has also focused on reaching the world for Christ. Beginning in the mid-1980’s Otterbein has given a significant amount of money to be used for world missions and today has partnerships with missionaries and missionary organizations all over the world. Otterbein has had a number of attendees commit to full-time missionary service for various lengths of time. Otterbein has also sent hundreds of people (students and adults) on various short-term trips to work on projects throughout the world during the past three decades.
A Nondenominational Congregation
From 1901 until June, 2005, Otterbein Church was affiliated with the Church of the United Brethren in Christ with headquarters in Huntington, Indiana. On June 8, 2005, the Board of Elders and the Management Oversight Team voted unanimously to discontinue our relationship with the United Brethren denomination and become a nondenominational congregation. The decision became effective on Sunday, June 19, 2005.
Making a Difference in Jesus’ Name
Since the mid-1980’s, Otterbein Church has experienced many changes. Worship attendance has more than doubled. Giving to the ministries of Otterbein has surpassed 1.5 million dollars annually. Additional church staff has been added to provide leadership in the church. Participation in the children and youth ministries has grown significantly. New ministries have been added to help people grow into “reproducing disciples of Jesus Christ.” And, most importantly, many people have committed their lives to Jesus Christ and have grown closer to Him through the ministry of Otterbein Church. Otterbein Church has and continues to make a difference in Jesus’ name in our community and throughout the world.
The following ministers have served as Senior Pastors at Otterbein Church: 1900 – W.R. Burkholder; 1901 – Peter Nicklas; 1902 – J.E. Croft; 1903 – J.C. Pease; 1904 – Samuel Coble; 1905-1909 – J.W. Brubaker; 1909-1911 – George E. Perry; 1911-1915 – Ezra M. Funk; 1915-1918 – J.C. Coulson; 1918-1925 – Earl W. Shoap; 1925-1937 – N.W. Brechbiel; 1937-1952 – A.E. Martin; 1952-1959 – Leroy L. Perry; 1959-1969 – George E. Weaver; 1969-1977 – Wilber L. Sites, Jr.; 1977-1988 – Ronald L. Cook; and 1988-present – Michael V. Newman.