About Us

Church History

(Credit is to be given to Raymond Dundore for his excellent history of the church that was sourced to write this updated version)

           In the late 19th century a few families in the area southwest of the city of Lebanon began to meet and worship God. By 1890, Samuel Boughter Sr., Amos Tittle, and Jacob Shirk purchased a tract of land from Conrad Miller for the sum of $75.00 to be paid in two installments. It was on this tract of land that the first church building was built that same year. According to the sources it was covered tin that was of a brick design.

          In the fall of 1890, the sessions of the East Pennsylvania Annual Conference of the United Brethren in Christ were held in Annville. This denomination was founded by Martin Boehm and Philip Otterbein in 1802. Historically the United Brethren in Christ denomination was the first American denomination not transplanted from Europe. Theologically it was Arminian. Its members had roots in Mennonite and German Reformed communities of Pennsylvania. On the social side the United Brethren in Christ took a strong stand against slavery in America by the year 1820. By the year 1837, no member could own slaves.

          At the annual conference an offer was made from the young church that it would become affiliated with the denomination if the conference would supply a regular pastor. The conference voted to accept this offer and the church was added to the Schaefferstown charge with Rev. H.M. Miller becoming the first pastor. Rev. Miller received the first members into the congregation by confession of faith. The members were Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Boughter Sr., Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Boughter Jr. and Mr. and Mrs. George Shires.

          Being an evangelical church, revival meetings were opened a short time later and continued for seventeen weeks. There were 69 converts during this time and one evening saw 32 persons kneeling at the altar accepting Christ as their savior.

          Change came quickly for the young church when in 1891 the church was added to the Brightbill church and Rev. W. Artz became the pastor. The early years saw much involvement by the laity with many becoming lay pastors. The early records list Samuel Boughter Sr., George Shires, Jacob Westenberger, and a Mr. Knoll as lay pastors. The church honored them with the title of Reverend.

          By 1897 major renovations were now being done to the church. The ceiling was raised to 12 feet, a recess for a pulpit, and the bell tower with a bell were added to the church. The Sunday school helped to defray the cost of the bell when it donated $50.33 of the cost of $600.00.

          Sunday school was a vital ministry of the church from its beginning. In the early years it was held on Sunday afternoon at 2:00PM. On June 4, 1899 it was changed to start at 9:00AM on Sunday morning.

          Knowing that a church is a social institution, the church on February 27,1899 appointed a committee to make arrangements for a home made festival which was the beginning of the annual Rocherty Sunday School picnic. Members were Albert Westenberger, Gertie Treist, and Rosie Hoke. The picnic began on the last Saturday of July and has since been held annually on the same Saturday in July.

         Soon after its inception the picnic became a profitable event for the church. Records indicate the first profit was in 1903 and that profit was $35.52. Soon after that community bands were hired to provide music for the picnic. In 1908, the Golden Eagle Band of Rexmont played for the cost of $27.50. In July 1909, The Annville band said they would play for $47.00 plus meals for the band members and in 1912 the Onward Band of Bismark played.

          During the early years of the church there were many events that occurred one in particular is worth mentioning. On October 2, 1898, the Sunday school was thrown into confusion when a fire occurred in the home of a Mr. Cox. Records indicate only half the members returned to Sunday school.

          As the new century occurred the church records indicate that Rocherty was moving ahead with improvements to the building. In May of 1907, new lights were purchased for $22.00 and also 66 1/2 yards of carpeting was purchased and installed by Smith & Bowman for a cost of $69.83 cents. Later in October of that same year, the original tin siding of the church was covered with wood shingles.

          Throughout the early years of the 20th century, the church provided spiritual guidance and outreach for the area south of Lebanon. It was a light for God's kingdom as more and more people found the Lord through its outreach to the community.

          Throughout this time there were physical changes happening too with the structure of the building culminating in 1940 when an addition was added to the east side of the church.

          1946 was a monumental year for Rocherty. It was in this year that the United Brethren in Christ merged with the Evangelical Association. This merger had been considered many times throughout the years because of their common emphasis on holiness, evangelism, and German heritage. In the year 1946 the merger finally took place and Rocherty became an E.U.B. church.

           In 1948, the church once again took on a major renovation when it dug a basement under the original building. This renovation provided more space for Sunday school. In that year a new heating system was installed.

          The 1950's saw much expansion for the church. In 1952 Mr. Henry Hoke's house west of the church was purchased. In that year a two car garage was built north of the church. In 1958, land north and west of the church was purchased from Lester Spitler and Paul Hoke.

          The 1960's was a significant decade in the church development of facilities. In 1962, a pavilion and band stand were constructed. The annual picnic would now be located on the church premises moving it from the local orchards, pastures, and fields. In 1963, a cloak room was added to the vestibule also that year the Youth Fellowship of the church purchased new carpet for the church. In 1964, new altar furnishings were purchased and in 1968 a new oil fired hot air furnace was installed.

          The year 1968 was also monumental for the church theologically and denominationally. In that year the EUB church merged with the United Methodist denomination. Rocherty EUB became Rocherty UMC which it remains today.

          The 1970's once again was a decade of physical change for the church property. The one real change to the church was the adding on of the education section to the north end of the church in 1978. The dedication of this took place on September 9, 1979 with former pastor Dr. Ezra Ranck as guest speaker.

          The 1980's provided additional modifications and additions to the church property. In 1984, a new roof over the band stand in honor of A. Herman Light was added. New carpet and new pews were installed that same year. In 1988 a new organ, new brass cross and brass flower vases were added. Additionally offering plates in memory of Mrs. Erma Dundore and Mrs. Mabel Dundore were added.

          The 1990's was a decade of change for the church as four pastors served the congregation Pastors Ronald Stott, Joan Pacocha, Mary Elisabeth Hoskins, and Gary Bailey. Additionally, at this time an extension was placed on the picnic pavilion in memory and honor of many of the loyal members of the congregation.

          The turn of the new century finds Rocherty still a beacon of light for our Lord Jesus Christ in Lebanon County. We as a congregation have kept Christ here in this church. People are growing in Christ and people are coming to Christ too. Over the last five years, 39 people have joined our congregation and new visitors come all the time. Rocherty UMC, even after more than a century, is still serving Christ and will be until Christ returns.