Thursday, September 19, 2002
Small church, lots of support
Historic Holtsinger 'Centerpiece of the community'
By Karen Vance
WEST CHESTER TWP. It's a small church with a lot of history.
Pastor Bill Lewis stands by one of the stained glass windows in the church|
(Michael Snyder photos)
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I think people are fascinated by the history of our church, said Laura Clontz, a 55-year member and its treasurer. We still have the original pews and the stained-glass windows, which were paid for by donations.
A small chapel has been on the property at 10104 Auburn Ave. since 1886. But no organized services were held there until 1904, when residents of Gano organized the First Presbyterian Church of Gano.
The Rev. Samuel King Holtsinger led the church, and in 1907, the members decided they needed a new church. The Rev. Mr. Holtsinger and the members of the church collected money from the surrounding areas.
Just a few months before the new church was completed, the Rev. Mr. Holtsinger died while in Dayton to perform a funeral service. The church was dedicated on May 16, 1908, and named Holtsinger Memorial Presbyterian Church.
The Holtsinger Memorial Presbyterian Church|
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Among its members was journalism magnate E.W. Scripps, who married the Rev. Mr. Holtsinger's daughter, Nackie Holtsinger Scripps. She attended the church whenever she returned from her husband's home in California.
Scripps remained an official resident of West Chester and returned every year to vote, said Pat Hoelscher, president of the Union/West Chester Township Historical Society.
IF YOU GO
What: Holtsinger Memorial Presbyterian Church|
Where: 10104 Auburn Ave., West Chester
When: 10 a.m. Sunday service
The estate taxes collected after his death by the township paid for the roads of West Chester to be paved and for the Union Township Hall, which became an elementary school and was leased to the district for $1.
Many of the 27 members are related to each other in some way and most are residents of Gano.
Pastor Bill Lewis first began substituting as a preacher at the church more than two years ago after he retired from Procter & Gamble. Then the presbytery asked him if he'd take the assignment permanently. He did and doesn't regret his work at the old-fashioned community church.
I would call it the centerpiece of the community, Pastor Lewis said. It's such an isolated place, and it means a lot to the people there. I think a lot of churches aren't supported the way Holtsinger is.
Community meetings are still held in the church. Boy Scout troops and the Historical Society also use it. Funds are raised through a yearly yard sale in late August and periodic bake sales. Nearly 1,000 nonmembers contributed for an addition to the church in 1996.
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