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Congregations merge in Franklin Township

By Staff | Jun 3, 2014

CAROL SHETLER/The Luminary CAP: Committee representatives facilitating the merger between the United Methodist Churches at Fairview and Franklin Bethel include (Front l-r): Torrence Fulmer, Ed Bower, the Rev. James Sunderland Jr, Betty George and Larry Hackenberg. (Rear): Henry and Carol Jordan, the Rev. Beth Jones, Lewis and Maxine Secules.

LAIRDSVILLE – Once there were five and now there are two United Methodist (UM) congregations in Lycoming County’s eastern townships of Franklin and Jordan.

Sunday, June 1st marked the final service in the Fairview UM Church site where members of the Franklin Bethel UM church were also in attendance. A unanimous vote by members of both united the two congregations as one. Their newly combined name will be the Franklin-Fairview UM Church and will meet at what is locally referred to as ‘the stone heap church’ at the foot of North Mountain along Route #42.

The closing of the three churches began on April 30 with Wesley Chapel at Talmer, Salem in Unityville when they ceased services on May 18, and Fairview June 1. In addition to the newly named Franklin-Fairview UM Church, the Pine Center UM Church also remains open.

During Fairview’s final service, a history was given by Ed Bower.

The first Sunday School and church of the community was held in the Bald Eagle one-room schoolhouse organized by Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Ritter Sr. The school is currently a home occupied by Adam Levan.

In a deed dated 1882, land was purchased from Mr. and Mrs. Evan Phillips on which a church was erected about a year later.

In addition to the Phillips and Ritters, early members included the families of David, Hiram and Ira Bartlow, David Neufer, Henry and John Myers, Henry and George Poust, George Arthur and Jacob Herriman.

Included is a list of improvements beginning in 1920 when a wood fired furnace put in a dug out basement and replaced the two original wood stoves on each side of the sanctuary. In 1958, an oil burning furnace was installed. In 1949, a primary kitchen was built, and in 1954 the walls and ceiling were covered with paneling and tile. Water had been carried to the church until 1965 when a well was drilled. In 1971, the church youth donated shrubbery; in 1977 new carpet was laid throughout the main floor; and during 1982, siding and storm widows were added.

Items given as memorial donations had been in memory of Lester, Eliza, Brady and Freda Miller, and Norma and Clarence Lunger.

The Rev. James Sunderland Jr. has been the pastor aided by Eric Lutz and William VanHorn as lay speakers. Sunderland and the Rev. Beth Jones, Superintendent of the UM churches in the Williamsport District, presided over the closing service.

It was announced the building will be sold and currently there are two interested parties.