Greenwood Furnace Methodist Episcopal Church

by Graple

A very brief overview of this historic Pennsylvania church

"To the worship of God in your own way", this was the dream of church founder, Reverend James McKendree Reilley. The little stone church was dedicated on September 1, 1867.

The Church in the Wildwood

Come as you are!

At the beginning, all the citizens had was an build a small church in the rural community of Greenwood Furnace, Pennsylvania.

Then, the idea began to take shape, when in 1865, the Freedom Iron and Steel Company sold for the huge sum of $1, to the Parish Trustees, a parcel of land that would soon see the construction of a small church.

Photo Source: Gloria Miller

Building the church

The stone used in this simplistic country church was quarried at the base of Broad Mountain and was then hauled to the construction site.


Billy Hossinger, who was a resident at Greenwood Furnace was tasked with laying the stone work for the building and by the time the church was completed, it cost the hefty sum of $3500.


The church bell was made around 1860 by the Major and Brother Bell Foundry in Lebanon, Pa.


Photo source: Gloria Miller


The church in use

The church didn't have a full time pastor, instead it relied on pastors who traveled on horseback from community to community preaching the word of God and saving lost souls.   Visits by ordained ministers, who were usually Methodist trained, happened once a month and this created the need for "lay ministers", people who were trained  to preach sermons and conduct services in the absence of the pastor.  

Sabbath Schools, which was an early forerunner of Sunday School, occurred weekly.

As with most churches, the worship services encompassed hymn sings but the church had nothing in the way of musical accompaniment, they relied on a person with a tuning fork who offer up the first note, sing a line and then the parishioners would join in.  Things changed in a big way in 1897 when a Bunnell Pump Organ made in Lewiston, PA,  was purchased and placed in the church.

Today, the inside of the church is very simplistic in appearance.  Through historical research it is believed that the floor had carpet and the walls had been wallpapered and their is an indication that there had been, at least four wood stoves used to heat the church during the winter. 

The benches that you see in the photo are original to the church.  The pipe organ mentioned earlier, now sits in the visitors center at the the park, as does the original pulpit Bible. 


Photo source: Gloria Miller

The fall and rise of the little church

When the furnace at Greenwood closed in 1904, the little community faced great changes.  People moved away to find a better life and the little church was closed and seemingly forgotten about.   But, in 1906 the Greenwood Forest Tree Nursery was created and the little church was used as a warehouse for tools and seeds. 

When the Greenwood State Park was established in the 1920's, people began to feel bad about how this little church was being treated and Governor John Fisher asked that the little church be returned to her roots, as a house of God and on June 10, 1928, the little church was rededicated.

In the audience to witness this was Dr. James McKendree Reilley, the grandson of Reverend Reilley who had originally dedicated the church in 1867.

Since 1961, non denominational services are held at the church during the summer months. 


Photo source:
Gloria Miller

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Updated: 05/29/2013, Graple
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