Our History

 

How do romance, tragedy and great generosity figure in the founding of Lehman Church? Why did two Philadelphians, an Episcopalian pharmacist and his Quaker wife, decide to build a Methodist Church in Hatboro? The story of Joseph and Deborah Lehman’s philanthropy that is part of our heritage is one of heart-warming Christian ecumenism that began more than one hundred seventy-five years ago.

The story begins on September 5, 1824, when Mrs. Hannah Yerkes, a capable and forceful Baptist, formed a Union Sunday School to “counteract the gross and flagrant evils of the place.” She enlisted the support of prominent local citizens, canvassed every family, and began the school with one hundred students in Loller Academy. This building, established in 1811, is now the borough hall.

In the spring of 1834, two brothers, Peter and Henry Eisenbray, moved to a farm in Horsbam from Lumberville where they had been converted to Methodism at evangelistic meetings the previous year. They became active in the Union Sunday School, but soon organized the Methodists into a Class Meeting which withdrew from the Union Sunday School and began their own Sunday School and preaching services in a “little red [octagonal] schoolhouse” at the corner of York and Monument Avenues. This was the original site of Crooked Billet monument.

By the next spring, Hatboro was made part of the Methodist Bustleton Circuit, along with Somerton and Holmes. April 13, 1835 is considered the founding date of the church. That summer, an active Hatborough Methodist, Mrs. Wilson, attended camp meeting in Frankford, taking with her three young unmarried Bean sisters from the congregation. It was Mrs. Wilson’s custom “at meal time to go around the grounds and invite any [unmarried] ministers without entertainment to her tent for dinner.” One of these ministers was Rev. Sisty of Bustleton Circuit, and another was Rev. Goentner, who often came to dinner with his widowed mother, Maria. Each of them would eventually marry one of the Bean sisters. Thus, Rev. Goentner would have learned the story of the small society of Methodists meeting in the Hatborough Schoolhouse, and the pastor's struggles, hopes and dreams for the little church.

Rev. Goentner was appointed pastor of a church in Hamilton Village, Philadelphia, in what is now the West Philadelphia/University City area. He and his mother established a close friendship with their neighbors, Dr. and Mrs. Joseph Lehman. When the Lehmans lost their only son by drowning in the Wissahicken Creek at age 15, Deborah Lehman was comforted in her mourning by her dear friend, Maria Goentner. And when Deborah confided that she intended to erect a large monument in her son’s memory, Maria suggested that an even more fitting and continuing memorial would be to erect a new church to memorialize her lost son. And coincidentally, she just happened to know of a place, a minister, and a denomination that desperately needed a church building.

So it was that Dr. Joseph Lehman paid $300 to Robert Radcliffe, the Crooked Billet innkeeper, for one and a half acres of land and erected a plain stone chapel on it at an additional cost of $2700. Lehman’s Chapel was underway!

The congregation was struggling, but the Lehmans were building a building, so the bishop, who had to do something with the congregation, appointed their dear friend and neighbor, Rev. Goentner, as the first full-time pastor. And if he was reluctant to accept the appointment because of the challenge it presented, at least Sarah Beans was nearby! At the end of the first year of Rev. Goentner’s pastorate, the church’s membership had increased by eleven fold, from 5 to 55.

Lehman Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church was the first church built in Hatboro. A parsonage was built next to the church in 1843, paid for by the Lehmans, who also invested $2250 in the church’s name with the resulting income to be used by the pastor for “wearing apparel." The parsonage was demolished in 1981. In 1879, the church was rebuilt with Gothic architecture and a steeple. More additions were added through the years, including the present red brick portion in 1953.

In December, 1971, a fire destroyed the newest portion of the church, which had been built in 1967. It was rebuilt with only minor changes. For example, the media booth replaced a stained glass window in the rear of the nave.

The Lehmans are buried under a flat rock in front of the church, and a marker is located there. A list of names of persons once buried on church grounds is located in the library.

 


 

Pastors of Lehman Church

 

April 13, 1835 - Bustleton, Holmes, Somerton & Hatborough Circuit

John LeRoy Taft, Mahlon H. Sisty‚Äč

1836

1837-1838

1838 

1839-1840

1840-1841

1841-1842 

1842-1843

1843-1844

1844-1846 

1846-1848

1848-1849

1849-1850

1850-1852

1852-1853

1853-1856

1856-1859

1859-1860

1860-1862

1862-1864

1864-1865

1865-1868 

1868-1869

1869-1870

1870-1879 

1879-1880

1880-1881

1881-1883

1883-1885

1885-1888

1888-1892

1892-1897

1897-1899

1899-1901

1901-1902

1902-1904

1904-1907

1907-1912 

1912-1914

1914-1917

1917-1918

1918-1921

1921-1924 

1924-1928 

1928-1930

1930-1932

1932-1934

1934-1942

1942-1945

1945-1949

1949-1952

1952-1959.

1958-1961

1959-1968

1961-1962

1962-1963

1963-1965

1968-1977

1970-1972

1973-1974

1973-1976

1976-1991

1977-1986

1986-1998

1991-1992 

1992-1993

1995-1996

1996-1999 

1998-2011

1999-2008

2008

2011-2016

2016

Hatborough left off the circuit

W. Goentner

John LeRoy Taft, Mahlon H. Sisty

Robert McNamee

James Hand

William Goentner, John Boyle

James Harmer, John Allen

James Harmer, John Walsh

Williams McCombs

James Flannery

Mahlon H. Sisty

Abraham Freed

John Henry

Valentine Gray

William Wood

George W. McLaughlin

Joseph Carlile

Reuben Owen

Samuel G. Hare

William T. Magee

William H. Burrell

William Rink

Thomas Kirkpatrick

Samuel J. Satchell

Solomon H. Hoover

Pernell Coombe

David M. Gordon

Peter J. Cox

Eli E. Burris

Ravil Smith

James M. Wheeer

Amos D. Geist

William J. Mills

Edward Divine

John G. Cornwall

Edward Cline

J. Purman Shook

A.J. Arthur

W. Sheridan Dawson

Charles E. Radcliffe

Wilmer E. Harkness

Edwin W. Burke

George W. Tovey

William H. Robinson

George W. Shires

David L. McCartney

Claude D. Grason

Carroll Maddox

Martin J. Brinton

Pearce A. Smith

John H. Barnes, Jr.

Warner R. Heston, Jr., Associate Pastor

James D. Matchette

Thomas N. Smiley, Associate Pastor

Milton T. Vahey, Associate Pastor

David M. Dickson, Associate Pastor

Robert L. Jones

Robert H. Hoffman, Associate Pastor

Richard A. Sutton, Associate Pastor

Daniel R. Killian, Associate Pastor

George S. Rigby, Jr., Associate Pastor

Menno E. Good

David L. Fife

Elaine Dickenson, Associate Pastor

Charles S. Bartolett, Associate Pastor

Gary W. Harton, Associate Pastor

Paul Longmire, Associate Pastor

Thomas C. Haugh

Amy C. Smith, Discipleship & Outreach

Nancy M. Ludwig, Associate Pastor

Steven McComas

J. William Lentz, Jr.

 

Contents © 2017 Lehman Memorial United Methodist Church | Church Website Provided by mychurchwebsite.net | Privacy Policy