December 25, 1874: History of the Church of the Good Shepherd United Church of Christ Recounted


By Margaret Leidy Harner from her book One Day at a Time: A Social History of Boyertown, PA.

December 25, 1874: It is Dedication Day for the Reformed Church of the Good Shepherd on West Philadelphia Avenue. Building a new church became necessary when both the Reformed and Lutheran congregations that had shared the original Union Church on this property, grew too large for that building.

The Reformed congregation had reached 400 members by that time. The Lutherans built their own church on North Reading Avenue and the Reformed group bought their share of this property and demolished the Union building to prepare for this structure.

The cornerstone was laid on April 30, 1874. This two-story structure, with a graceful steeple soaring 140 feet in the air, is an elegant contribution to the beauty of Boyertown. The sanctuary on the second floor, that seats 600, is splendidly furnished, featuring magnificent frescoes by George Seiling of Reading and beautiful stained glass windows donated by parishioners. The pulpit was at the north end at that time. Sunday School rooms are located on the first floor.

The new building cost $35,000. In preparation for the grand opening, Rev. Lucian J. Mayer and the congregation have been working with pick and shovel to clear the “rubbish” in front of the building. To ensure the proper atmosphere, “no hucksters are allowed to put up stands near the church.”

The name The Reformed Church of the Good Shepherd was first used in 1874. The original building still forms the basis of the present church but was enlarged in 1923 when a two-story wing was added on the east side of the building and the chancel was relocated at the east end of the enlarged sanctuary. The seating capacity of the auditorium was 800, making it one of the largest in Berks County at that time.

The Reformed Church joined with the Evangelical and Congregational Christian Churches in 1957 to form the United Church of Christ, and the Boyertown congregation became the Church of the Good Shepherd United Church of Christ.

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