Historic church marks 110th anniversary

August 05, 2002|by STACEY DANZUSO

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - About 40 people celebrating the 110th anniversary of Harbaugh Church Sunday couldn't escape one sign of the building's age - the absence of air-conditioning.

The group gathered in the single-room church in Sunday's sweltering heat trying to catch a breeze from one of two rotating fans as they learned about the life of the Rev. Henry Harbaugh, who founded the Harbaugh German Reformed Church.

His congregation built a church along Harbaugh Church Road east of Waynesboro in 1846. It came down in 1891 to make way for the current building, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places this summer, said John Blair, chairman of the Harbaugh Church Committee.


John Frantz, a University of Pennsylvania professor of history and religious studies, said Harbaugh's legacy has touched his life since he was a boy.

"I have been aware of Henry Harbaugh almost as long as I can remember," he said.

Frantz said growing up in Woodstock, Va., his neighbors were related to the Harbaughs.

Henry Harbaugh was the best-known son of George and Anna Harbaugh. The 10th child, he moved to Ohio at age 18 against his father's will and worked as a carpenter, machinist and teacher to save money and attend the seminary.

"Tradition was the 10th child would go into the church. His father did not want to pay for it," Frantz said, even though his relatives were staunch members of the German Reformed Church.

Harbaugh also preached around Pennsylvania - in Lewisburg and Lancaster - and learned English and German, though he wrote poetry in the Pennsylvania German dialect he grew up speaking because he was afraid it was dying out, Frantz said.

But Harbaugh should not have worried because the dialect is still spoken today, he said.

Harbaugh, who died in 1867 at age 50, never set foot inside the church bearing his name, Blair said.

"This is my boyhood church. I am in awe of it," he said.

The tiny church, with about 20 pews, hardwood floors and arched stained glass windows, has been restored.

The church committee plans anniversary rededications and homecoming services every five years. The church is no longer used for regular services, although worn red hymnals printed in 1954 remain in the pews.

The church changed names several times, and in 1966 the congregation of Harbaugh United Church of Christ began worshiping with St. Paul's United Church of Christ in Waynesboro. The two officially merged the following year to form the Church of the Apostles, United Church of Christ.

Harbaugh Church stood vacant until 1983 when the Waynesboro Historical Society purchased the property from the Church of the Apostles for $1.

Through fund-raising, the building has been restored and is used for weddings, funerals, homecomings and historical meetings.

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