East Swamp Today
As you enter the front doors of our building, you will probably see an enthusiastic and active group of people just like yourself. They will be talking, laughing, and moving toward one of the ministry areas of our church.
On Sunday morning approximately 450 people participate in worship services and Christian education activities. Throughout the week, there are many other activities sponsored by the church. These activities include club programs for children and teens, music rehearsals, support groups, Bible study and prayer groups, and even a fellowship of quilters. And, if you happen to drop in on a weekday morning or afternoon during the school year, you Will hear the delightful voices of preschool children enjoying our Triple C Nursery School. But there's more, much more.
God has blessed the church with growth as a result of numerous innovative and caring ministries. And much more is being carefully and prayerfully planned in each of the ministry areas of the church. Careful attention is given to developing specialized ministries that will respond to an increasing array of needs represented in our community. Are you interested in learning more? Please read on.
East Swamp History
After the erection of the brick building in 1850 the church was referred to as the "Backsteinen Versammlunghaus," the "baked-stone meetinghouse." Prior to that it had been known as Drissel's Meetinghouse. The name East Swamp did not come into common use until about the 1870s. During a remodeling in 1927 the exterior brick walls were plastered; in 1936 the building was enlarged and the present stained glass windows were added resulting in the architectural style we see today.
October 5, 1858 - Levi Schimmel was ordained as a minister at East Swamp, the first ordination to take place in this building. In 1861 he became one of the two local signers to the new General Conference constitution. He later helped organize the Wadsworth, Ohio school (first conference school), pastors in Philadelphia and was appointed the first General Conference home missionary.
July, 1864 - Confederate troops raided and burned the town of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, leaving its habitants homeless. On August 11, East Swamp took a special offering to be sent as "Fire Aid for Chambersburg." The offering amounted to $13.75 and was added to funds collected by our sister Mennonite churches to send a total of $41.60.
1881 - East Swamp had 88 members. Sunday school was held year round (but bi-weekly in winter). Rule passed "that funeral caskets be left in vestibule to prevent disease."
1912 - Constitution and By-laws of the church were printed in English and given to each member. The pastor received $300 for the year. Church Council met every three months. Pastor Wm. H. Grubb offered to hold weekly services instead of every two weeks. His offer was thankfully accepted.
March 1, 1913 - "A meeting was called by Pastor Wm. Grubb to organize a Ladies Aid Society of the East Swamp Mennonite Church. The membership was 15; dues were 10c a month. The work of the Society is quilting, making comforts, aprons and other articles. Proceeds are used for special needs of the Church, Charity and Missions."
January 18, 1916 - East Swamp Church chartered a rail car to attend the Biederwolf tabernacle meetings in Allentown. William Edward Biederwolf was one of three well-known evangelists in the early twentieth century, the others being J. Wilbur Chapman and Billy Sunday. Biederwolf's Allentown meetings lasted six weeks.
A Men's Brotherhood was organized in 1938 under the leadership of Rev. Harold Burkholder to "provide an opportunity for more of our men to help in the Lord's service." In 1940 the Brotherhood undertook digging an artesian well. In 1942 the cabin, "Bethel Pines" was built at Camp Men-O-Lan. In 1943 the Brotherhood men did the digging for the church addition. In 1946 they provided tools for the European Relief Project through the Mennonite Central Committee. During this period they also sponsored the weekly church bulletins and had an extensive tract distribution project.
1942 - East Swamp begins weekly radio broadcast on Allentown station WSAN with Pastor Harold Burkholder speaking. Pastor Burkholder also travels to Omaha, Nebraska, where he becomes one of the founders of Grace Bible Institute.
Community and Church
East Swamp Church is located just outside the Borough of Quakertown, Pennsylvania, in a community which has a population of approximately 30,000 (2000 census). It is a growing community located within an hour's drive of Philadelphia. The church was incorporated in 1892, although services were conducted at this site much earlier. The life of East Swamp Church today is defined more by its identity with Evangelicalism than by the historical connection to the Mennonite heritage. East Swamp functions as a local, self-governing fellowship.