St. John’s has had only 7 senior pastors in our long history since 1876. We are now in the process of selecting our 8th senior pastor to lead us into the future!
St. John’s Senior Pastors & Years They Served as Senior Pastor:
- Rev. H.F. (Henry Franklin) Seiple (1879-1884)
- Rev. J.J. (Jacob J.) Rothrock (1885-1922)
- Rev. Alfred N. (Nevin) Sayres (1923-1944)
- Rev. Harold C. “Cubby” Baer (1944-1949)
- Rev. Harold E. (Edward) Ditzler (1949-1972)
- Rev. John W. (Workman) Touchberry (1973-1999)
- Rev. Susan C. “Sue” Bertolette (1999-2022)
About Our Senior Pastors
Rev. Henry Franklin Seiple Our first pastor, graduated from Amherst College in 1866, and was conﬁrmed by Rev. William A. Stearn, D.D., president of Amherst College, as a member of the Congregational church of Amherst, Mass. He studied law with Gen. W. H. Gibson of Tifﬁn, Ohio during 1866-1867, and practiced law in Ky. and Ohio until 1870. He studied theology privately during the year 1871, and in 1872-1873 was under the tutelage of Rev. J. H. A. Bomberger, D.D., president of Ursinus College. He was licensed by Philadelphia Classis in June, 1873; was principal of the Woodbury graded schools during 1874-1875; was ordained by Mercersburg Classis December 10, 1874, and installed as pastor of the Woodbury charge, serving from 1874-1879. In 1879 he received and accepted a call from the Hilltown charge (including St. John’s and St. Peter’s church in Hilltown). In 1884 St. John’s was detached from the Hilltown charge and pastoral relations were dissolved, so Rev. Seiple left St. John’s but continued as pastor in Hilltown until 1897. From 1887 until his death he lived in Lansdale. For the last 12 years he was afﬂicted with diabetes and incapacitated for pastoral service, and was blind for his last year, passing away October 22, 1908 at age 65. Services at his home were conducted by Rev. J.J. Rothrock and Rev. J. Kehm, and he was buried in Hilltown Cemetery.
Rev. Maxwell S. Rowland (Pastor of St. Matthew’s & East Vincent Reformed Churches, 1869-1881 in Chester County, Pa.) served as a Supply Pastor between Rev. Seiple & Rev. Rothrock.
Rev. J.J. (Jacob J.) Rothrock On May 1, 1885, Rev. (Jacob) J.J. Rothrock became pastor of St. John’s, the same day St. John’s separated from the Hilltown charge and became a mission church. He was installed May 24, 1885. During his 37 years as pastor, the membership grew from about 60 to 600 members, and the Sunday School grew from about 200 to 437 members. During his pastorate the church building was expanded and a parsonage added in 1890. A Meneely bell weighing 1,000 was purchased for the church tower in 1888, an Estey pipe organ was added in 1903 for $1,400. Looking to expand the Sunday School facilities, the Clemmer property (our current location, across he street) was purchased on December 19, 1920 for &10,500. There were times during his ministry that his health was seriously impaired, and Rev. Rothrock resigned due to prolonged health issues on October 29, 1922, and was named Pastor Emeritus on that date. He passed away on January 7, 1923.
Rev. Dr. Alfred Nevin Sayres of Harrisburg served his first parish as minister at St. John’s from February 11, 1923 to 1944, after graduation from Lancaster Theological Seminary. During his pastorate the membership grew to 742 and the Sunday School to 673. The Sunday School needed additional room and the children’s classes were held in the Clemmer house (now site of the current church) and the adults in the Schwenkfelder and the Masonic temple. A building committee formed in 1924 in 1925 work began on the new Sunday School building, dedicated June 13, 1926. On June 27, 1936, ground was broken for a new Assembly Hall, which was dedicated April 18, 1937. By 1943 the church had grown to about 900 members. Rev. Sayers left in 1944 to become Executive Secretary of the Board of Christian Education of the Reformed Church. He also served as Professor of Practical Theology at the seminary, retiring in 1961, and served as interim pastor at UCC churches in Lancaster and Lititz. Rev. Sayres passed away on June 4, 1972 in Lancaster, Pa. at age 78.
Rev. Silas Paul Bittner, THD, DD (1893-1981) served as Supply Pastor from May to July, 1944. Before St. John’s, he graduated Elmhurst College in 1912. He studied at Eden Seminary & Central Baptist Seminary & received a DD from Park College in 1936. He was pastor of 3 churches in Ohio from 1915-1923, Bolivar, Zoar & Ruslin Hills, traveling between them by horse & buggy until the church bought him a Model T Ford for $500. After a short ministry in Sedalia, MO, he was pastor of St. Peter’s Church, Kansas City, MO. In 1929, he became chairman of the Evangelical Board of Pensions & Relief, then president of the E&R Board of Pensions & Relief after the merger, the position he held at the time he was also our supply pastor. He returned here as a guest preacher on August 12, 1945. He passed away in Loveland, Co. April 15, 1981.
Rev. Dr. Harold C. “Cubby” Baer served as St. John’s pastor from July, 1944 to March, 1949. The membership as of May 1, 1946 was 1,135. He also served as pastor to churches in Frederick, MD, Shamokin, PA and served as pastor at Christ Church UCC in Norristown from 1958 to 1968, when he became Benefits Secretary of the UCC in NYC. After Dr. Baer retired in 1976, the Baers returned to Norristown for their retirement years. In 1992 he passed away of complications of Parkinson’s Disease. His wife Mae spoke at St. John’s 125th anniversary program in 2001; she passed away in 2012 at age 101. The custom of hiring summer assistants from Lancaster Theological Seminary began during his pastorate.
Rev. Charles Edmund Schaeffer, DD, (1867-1966) Secretary Emeritus to the Board of National Missions, served as Supply Pastor in 1949. He had served as a pastor in several Reformed churches before serving as General Secretary of the Board of Home Missions from 1908 to 1941. He was the author of a number of books about the history and ministry of the Reformed & the E&R churches.
Rev. Dr. Harold Edward Ditzler (born April 2, 1907 in York. Pa.) served as St. John’s Senior Pastor from November 6, 1949 to October 31, 1972. He served as pastor at churches in Lewisburg, Pa., Edinburgh, Scotland, Lock Haven, Pa. and Los Angeles, Ca. before St. John’s. Rev. Ditzler had experience getting church building projects finished, and by Christmas Eve, 1952 our new (current) sanctuary was finished as part of the building plan first started in 1925, and was dedicated in 1953. Rev. Ditzler selected the designs for the stained glass windows adorning the new sanctuary. A new parsonage was dedicated in 1957 at Valley Forge Rd. & York Ave. By 1963 the membership had grown to 1,370 and Sunday School attendance averaged 415 per Sunday. Rev. Ditzler retired from St. John’s at age 65 in 1972 and was named “Pastor Emeritus”, residing in St. Petersburg, Fl. He passed away on December 6, 1984 in Hawaii.
Rev. William E. Cameron served as Interim Senior Pastor from November 1972 to July, 1973. Rev. Cameron was a resident of the Lansdale area who served in parish ministry and frequently served as a supply minister in the PSEC. From 1977-1985 he was CEO of the North Penn YMCA, 1985 -1988 with the Main Line YMCA, & from 1988 to his retirement in 2003, was field consultant & director of the YMCA Management Resource Center (MRC) for Philadelphia & Vicinity. He was inducted into the National YMCA Hall of Fame in 2007. Also, Rev. Dr. Elmer E. Leiphart, D.D., a retired pastor from Elkins Park who last served in West Point, was hired to assist Rev. Cameron during the week with visitation and other duties in April 1973 until he decided to retire as of December 31, 1973.
Rev. Dr. John Workman Touchberry served as St. John’s Senior Pastor from July 22, 1973 until his retirement on July 4, 1999. He served churches in South Carolina (where he was born) and Florida before coming to St. John’s. He was very active in the community, with an emphasis of his ministry on the poor and disenfranchised of society. He started a soup kitchen next door to the church called Manna On Main Street in 1981, first housed in St. John’s for 2 years until it moved to a home next door to the church, and has since expanded many times as it continues John’s legacy of helping those in need. He was also seen as ‘Santa’ collecting for the Salvation Army at Christmas season. After retiring, Rev. Touchberry & his wife Sheryl moved to Rosman, N.C. and was an active at First Congregational United Church of Christ (UCC) in Hendersonville, NC., He passed away on April 26, 2010 and Sheryl still lives in their Rosman, NC home and is part of our Facebook group.
Rev. Dr. Susan C. “Sue” Bertolette came to St. John’s in June of 1980, beginning as our Associate Pastor just one day after her ordination into the Christian ministry. Sue received a B.S. degree is in Psychology from Eastern University in St. David’s, PA (1977) and her M. Div. from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Philadelphia (1980). In 1993, upon earning her Doctor of Ministry degree from Lancaster Theological Seminary in Lancaster, Pa., she, along with her colleague Rev. Dr. John Touchberry, began working together as co-pastors, and then, upon Dr. Touchberry’s retirement in July of 1999, Sue was elected as St. John’s seventh Senior Pastor on August 1, 1999.
Sue viewed pastoral care and worship leadership as top priorities, seeking to offer sermons that speak to real life issues and provide concrete, tangible ways to address the challenges of daily life. She enjoyed the creative challenge of writing a monthly column for the local newspaper, as well as opportunities to teach and lead study groups for all ages. In between her many pastoral responsibilities, Sue enjoyed spending time with her family (husband Bob and grown children – daughter Jenny and her husband Ryan and their children, Ruby and Levi, and son John and John’s wife Kelly), reading, bicycling and ringing hand bells. When Sue spoke of her ministry at St. John’s, among a people she lovingly referred to as a “wonderfully motley crew,” she repeatedly affirmed “there is nowhere else I would rather be.” Sue celebrated her 42th anniversary in the ministry and at St. John’s on June 1, 2022, and retired from the Senior Pastor position on June 15, 2022. On June 12, 2022, she was named Pastor Emerita of St. John’s. Sue fought a courageous fight against several types of cancer in her final years as pastor, using all her strength to lead her congregation in worship each week. After her retirement, Sue passed away on August 4, 2022. Her husband Bob continues as a St. John’s member.
Rev. Dale Davis is currently serving as Interim Senior Pastor from starting September, 2022 between Rev. Sue Bertolette and our future pastor. He most recently served as Interim Pastor at Wentz’ UCC in Lansdale.
EARLY REFORMED PASTORS DURING OUR FORMATION
Neighboring Pastors Who Served St. John’s During the Formation 1874-1879
- Rev. Jacob Kehm (1874-1877)
- Rev. A.B. (Abraham Baughman) Koplin (1878-1879)
- Rev. J. (James) G. Dengler (1878-1879)
Rev. Jacob Kehm was appointed by the Reformed Church Classis of Tohickon on May 15, 1874 to “look after the interests of our church in Lansdale”. In 1975 he began holding occasional services in Lansdale at Althouse’s Hall in the afternoon or evening. From the St. John’s 20th anniversary notes from May 29, 1898: “Rev. Jacob Kehm, Chairman of the Tohickon Committee, has acted with energy and skill in the work (in organizing and building the new church).” On January 30, 1876 a constitution was adopted, and soon a building was begun, with Rev. Kehm officiating the cornerstone ceremony on October 15, 1876, along with Rev. J.G. Dengler. He cared for the St. John’s congregation until he resigned on December 20, 1877.
Rev. A.B. Koplin was active in the formation of Reformed churches throughout Pennsylvania in the mid-1800’s, and served churches in Stoyestown, Elk Lick, Lancaster, Catasauqua, and Hellertown. He is known as “the father of the Phoebe Home” in Allentown, active in it’s formation and serving as the first president of the Board of Trustees. He was born July 7, 1835 in Summit Co. Ohio & graduated from Heidelberg Academy in 1855, and he passed away March 5, 1917 in Hellertown. Rev. Koplin preached at the first service in our original church building in English on December 23, 1877. He helped lead worship and the confirmation classes at St. John’s from 1878 until Rev. Seiple was installed as pastor in 1884.
Rev. J.G. Dengler, who helped organize St. John’s, was also the original minister at St. Stephen’s Reformed Church in Perkasie, while he was also pastor at the Sellersville Reformed charge from 1874 to 1897. He helped lead worship and the confirmation classes at St. John’s from 1878 until Rev. Seiple was installed as pastor in 1884. He preached in German at the dedication service for our original building in 1878. He also returned to preach at the installation service of Rev. J.J. Rothrock on May 24, 1885.
Then-pastor Rev. J.J. Rothrock wrote in 1898: “To Rev. Kehm belongs the honor of being the founder of this congregation. To Rev. Koplin and Rev. Dangler the credit of caring for it in its infancy, and Rev. Seiple who was its first regular pastor, be it said that he labored earnestly and successfully for its welfare, preparing the way for its growth and development in later years.”
St. John’s Assistant or Associate Pastors and The Years They Served:
- Rev. Harold R. Whitebred (1958-1960)
- Rev. Raymond Deily Groff (1960-1963)
- Rev. Frank S. Landis, Jr. (1963-1964)
- Rev. Martin (Marty) Luther Bupp II (1964-1969)
- Rev. John A. Denlinger (1970-1973)
- Rev. Susan C. (Sue) Bertolette (1980-1999)
- Rev. Russell D. Clark (2000-2002)
- Rev. Ryan W. Henderson (2004-2013)
- Rev. Adelaide (Addie) Stong (2014-Present)
More About Our Assistant or Associate Pastors:
St. John’s first full time, ordained Assistant Minister was Rev. Howard R. (Ronny) Whitebred, from Hazleton, Pa. He was a graduate of Catawba College & Lancaster Theological Seminary. He served in the US Air Corps in Japan from 1951-1953. He began his ministry here July 1, 1958 & left St. John’s on April 24, 1960 to serve as pastor of First UCC in Palmerton, Pa.
The second Assistant Minister was Rev. Raymond Deily Groff. He was a 1954 graduate of Lancaster Theological Seminary and served from 1955-1960 as pastor of Old Goshenhoppen and Keelor’s UCC. He served as our Associate pastor from September 4, 1960 to 1962. He then took clinical training for institutional counseling chaplain positions at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. From 1962 to 1975 he served as a prison chaplain and also as parish pastor at Frieden’s UCC in Lenhartsville, Pa. from 1969 to 1973. He passed away from a heart attack in 1975 at age 48 while traveling in Virginia.
Rev. Frank S. Landis, Jr. was our third Assistant Pastor, installed June 16, 1963. He was a June, 1963 graduate of Lancaster Theological Seminary. In his first three months he served as primary pastor as Dr. & Mrs. Ditzler took a sabattical trip to England and Switzerland. Just eight months after joining St. John’s, Rev. Landis passed away on February 25, 1964 at age 27 from leukemia.
Rev. Martin ‘Marty’ Luther Bupp II became St. John’s 4th Assistant Minister. He was a graduate of Yale Divinity School in 1962 and then served as pastor in Lincolnton, NC. He came to St. John’s on October 1, 1964, and served until August 31, 1969, when he accepted a call to First Congregational Church UCC in Westfield, Ma. Rev. Bupp continued his ministry in Springfield, Pa., Drexel Hill, Pa. and worked as Assistant to the Conference Minister at our Pennsylvania Southeast Conference until he retired in 2000. Rev. Bupp returned to St. John’s as a member until he passed away April 22, 2015 in Wyomissing, Pa. Note: Rev. Bupp’s wife Gail grew up at St. John’s as Gail Umstead and was a college roommate of (our Senior Pastor) Rev. Ditzler’s daughter, Joan Ditzler Rhoades.
Rev. John A. Denlinger (1941-2013) served as our 5th Associate Pastor. He graduated from Lancaster Theological Seminary in 1970 and became our Associate Pastor on June 14, 1970. He accepted a call to St. Luke’s UCC in Lititz, Pa. and left St. John’s on August 9, 1973. Rev. Denlinger later served as Senior Pastor of churches in McClure, York & Shrewsbury, Pa. for a total ministry of 42 years. Rev. Denlinger returned to St. John’s to speak at our 125th anniversary gathering in 2001.
On June 6, 1980, Rev. Susan C. (Sue) Bertolette was installed as our 6th Associate Minister. After almost 20 years as Associate Pastor and designated in 1993 by pastor Rev. John Touchberry as ‘Co-Pastor’, Rev. Sue was called as Senior Pastor on August 1, 1999 after Rev. Touchberry retired. Rev. Sue continued as our Senior Pastor, serving her complete ministry at St. John’s following her graduation from seminary in 1980.
Rev. (Robert) R.C. Smith served as interim Associate Pastor from September 5, 1999 until July 30, 2000 after Rev. Sue Bertolette was elevated to Senior Pastor. He left to become Pastor of College Hill Presbyterian Church in Easton, Pa., where he served for 17 years. In 2018 he moved to Sarasota, Florida, and has served as an interim pastor in N. Ft. Myers, Bradenton & Punta Gorda, where he is serving as of 2021.
On December 3, 2000, Rev. Russell D. (Russ) Clark came from St. Luke’s UCC in North Wales to become our 7th Associate Pastor, serving during our year-long 125th anniversary celebration in 2001 and during the tragedy of 9-11-2001. He served as our primary pastor during the summer of 2002 when Rev. Sue took a well-deserved sabbatical. In November 2002, he left to become Senior Pastor at St. Paul’s UCC in Dallastown, Pa. He served there until 2012, when he became pastor of Newport UCC in Newport, Washington. He is now pastor of Emmanuel UCC in Hanover, Pa.
Rev. Lori Esslinger served as part-time Interim Associate Pastor from November, 2002 until December, 2003. After St. John’s, she served as part-time Director of Christian Education at Faith Presbyterian Church in Emmaus, Pa. She is now pastor of Old Zionsville UCC in Old Zionsville, Pa.
Rev. George Bahner (1937-2014) also served as part time Interim Associate Pastor 2002-2003, assisting with visitations, communications & worship leadership during that time. We celebrated his 40th year in ministry here in June, 2003. George had served as pastor at North Congregational Church, Columbus, OH, Salem UCC Verona, WI & Trinity UCC, Copley, Pa., and also served as an interim pastor in a number of UCC churches.
On January 4, 2004, Rev. Ryan W. Henderson from Monson UCC in Monson, Maine was elected our 8th Associate Pastor. Ryan introduced St. John’s to new technologies, fairly-traded coffee, our Prayer Shawl Ministry, Mission Trips, his special style of prayers, and helped lead our congregation with his humor and youthful spirit. Ryan served for about 10 years until he was called to be Associate Conference Minister for Youth, Young Adults & Emerging Ministries for the UCC New York Conference in 2013. His title now is Associate Conference Minister for Communication and Online Community.
Rev. Adelaide (Pastor Addie) Stong from Hershey, Pa., after recently graduating from Lancaster Theological Seminary, became our 9th Associate Pastor in 2014 and currently fills this important role at St. John’s. Addie had also served as the chaplain of Hartman Center UCC Camp before coming to St. John’s. (See more on our current Staff page.) Rev. Addie is currently on a 3 month sabbatical until mid-November, 2023.
St. John’s Ministers of Christian Education
In 1969 the Rev. Evelyn M. Deardorff from Worcester became the first part-time Director of Children’s Ministry, serving until April 29, 1973 when she left to become an area minister in Christian Education for the PSEC.
Rev. Bernie Dunphy-Linnartz from New Braunfels, Texas, became the second Director/Minister of Christian Education starting on August 18, 1974 and was installed on Christian Education Sunday, September 22, 1974. A graduate of Elmhurst College and Eden Seminary, he was ordained in 1971 and served as Minister of Christian Education at Westminster Presbyterian Church of Springfield, IL. before his call to St. John’s in May, 1974.
Barbara Klaumenzer served as Interim Coordinator of Christian Education from 1979 to March 23, 1980, when she became Director of Christian Education at Trinity UCC in Telford.
After 1980, the position of Minister of Christian Education became part of the role of our Assistant or Associate Pastor.
Rev. Patti Thomas, a St. John’s member, served as our Minister of Creative Arts from the late 1990’s to the early 2000’s. She them heard a Call to Ministry and graduated from Lancaster Theological Seminary. She then accepted a call to St. Paul’s UCC in Sellersville, where she Senior Pastor from January 1, 2007 until her retirement, their first female pastor. She returned to St. John’s and today serves as a member, leader & occasionally assists the pastors.
St. John’s Summer Student Pastors and The Years They Served: (Incomplete List) From Lancaster Theological Seminary:
- 1946 – Mr. Henry K. Haines
- 1947 – Mr. H. Clayton Moyer, Jr.
- 1948 – Mr. Grant Harrity
- 1949-1950 – Mr. Roy H. Schmid
- 1951 – Mr. Joseph M. (McCune) Kim
- 1952 – Mr. Theodore E. (Edward) Haas
- 1953 – Mr. Ronald J. (Jay) Keller
- 1954 – Mr. John F. (Jack) Kasten, Jr.
- 1955 – Mr. Carl C. (Clayton) Kreps
- 1956 – Mr. C. Walter Long
- 1957 – Mr. Barry E. Kern
- 1960 – Mr. Russell F. Mertz
- 1962 – Mr. John Callahan
- 1999 – Mr. Kurt Weiser
- 2013 – Ms. Celestine Brooks Fields
Student Pastors Serving St. John’s While Attending Lancaster Theological Seminary
From 1946 to 1957 and intermittently after that, St. John’s hired Student Pastors from Lancaster Theological Seminary to assist our pastor including helping lead Vacation Bible School and filling in during the pastor’s vacation. While only serving at St. John’s for a short time, it is interesting to read below about the ministries that followed in their careers which started here. We have had Student Pastors serving us occasionally since that time. Starting in 1958, a full-time Assistant or Associate Pastor filled this position year-round, specializing in leading Christian Education as well as varied responsibilities in the daily life of the church.
1946 – Henry K. Haines, (1924-1952), a graduate of Ursinus College from Maytown, Pa. & Lancaster Theological Seminary. He had served as a chaplain in the Navy in World War II. He served as Assistant Pastor of Zion E&R Church, Hagerstown, Md. then as Pastor of St. Paul’s E&R Church in Waynesboro, Pa. While serving there he passed away in a one car accident on March 22, 1952.
1947 – H. Clayton Moyer, Jr. (1926-2020) Born in Blooming Glen, PA. He was baptized & confirmed in St. Stephen’s Reformed Church in Perkasie. He received his AB degree in 1945 at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA. & graduated from Lancaster Theological Seminary in 1947 & ordained May 23, 1948. He was installed June 13, 1948 as Assistant Pastor of Christ E&R Church in Hagerstown, MD. He was pastor of Trinity UCC in Waynesboro, PA. from 1954 to 1980, & continued to preach & serve in church & community organizations in his retirement. He passed away on February 2, 2020 at the age of 93.
1948 – Grant E. Harrity, (1926-2017) Born in Lancaster, OH, graduated from Ursinus College in 1946 & Lancaster Theological Seminary in 1949. He served churches in Hagerstown, MD, Coopersburg, Friedensville & Sunbury, then in 1961 became pastor of St. John’s UCC in Allentown for 23 years. He received an Honorary DD degree from Ursinus in 1969. In 1984, he became the President and CEO of Phoebe Ministries, Allentown, retiring in 1994. He continued to serve in civic groups & boards and was active in UCC affairs. In 1994, he was named Executive of the Year by the Council of Health and Human Services of the United Church of Christ. In 2015, Phoebe Institute on Aging honored him with the first Rev. Dr. Grant Harrity Award for Exemplary Service to the Aging.
1949-1950 – Roy H. Schmid (1927-2010) from Columbia, Pa. graduated from Lancaster Theological Seminary with a BD in 1951. He received his STM from Temple University, attended Hamburg University in Germany & received his Doctorate degree in 1983 from Eastern Baptist Seminary. He served 2 summers at St. John’s, with added duties in 1950 as Rev. Ditzler was on a Preaching Mission to England & Scotland in August. He was ordained June 3, 1951 at the Salem UCC in Columbia, Pa. Rev. Schmid served as representative of Heifer International in Kassel, Germany. He served as Pastor of the St. John’s UCC, Lebanon, PA from 1953 thru 1959 & retired in 1992 after serving at Trinity UCC, Norristown for over 30 years. He served on the PSEC Board of Directors; the Cedar Crest College Board of Directors; the Wyncote Church Home Board of Directors & served as a delegate to two General Synods. In 1962, Rev. Schmid received a US Patent for designing & developing a one handed lipstick case. An accomplished musician, he enjoyed playing the piano and flute.
1951 – Joseph M. (McCune) Kim (1928-2009) Born in Larimer, Pa, he graduated from Greenbrier Military School in 1946 & Franklin & Marshall College in 1949, and Lancaster Theological Seminary in 1952. After graduation from Lancaster, he became Pastor, then Pastor Emeritus of First Trinity UCC of Youngwood, Pa.
1952 – Theodore E. (Edward) Haas (born 1929) graduated from Lancaster Theological Seminary in 1953, first serving as Associate Pastor at Christ E&R Church in Hagerstown, Md., then served as Pastor of Christ Church E&R/UCC, Hellertown, Pa. from 1955 to 1975, then Grace UCC, Frederick, Md. He served there until his retirement in 1994, then worked as interim pastor for several churches in Md. As of 2019 he was 90 years old living in Frederick, Md.
1953 – Ronald J. (Jay) Keller (1927-2006) from Lock Haven, Pa., a graduate of Bucknell University in 1951 (after serving in the Army Signal Corps 1945-1947) & Lancaster Theological Seminary in 1953. He was called to serve as pastor at Emanuel UCC, Bridesburg, from 1954-1959, 1960-1965, Emanuel UCC, Irvington, N.J. 1965-1970 at St. Andrews United Church of Christ, Allentown, & 1970-1989 at Maidencreek UCC, Blandon, & St. Peter’s UCC, Molltown. After retiring in 1989, he served as interim pastor for St. John UCC, Reading, and Christ UCC, Bowers.
1954 – John F. (Jack) Kasten, Jr. (1923-2009) from Richmond, Va., a World War II Navy veteran and electrical engineer for the Virginia Power Company, served as Student Pastor in the Summer of 1954 from Lancaster Theological Seminary. He was active in the UCC ministry for 32 years, including 14 years as Associate Pastor of St. Paul’s UCC in Evansville, IN. In retirement, he was a certified Master Gardener.
1955 – Carl C. (Clayton) Kreps (1932-2005) from Lewistown, Pa. He was a graduate of Catawba College, then Lancaster Theological Seminary in 1956. He served Bethany & Bethlehem UCC near Winston-Salem, NC, Mount Hope UCC, Salisbury, Faith UCC, Hickory, Beulah UCC, Lexington, & Happy Home UCC near Ruffin, NC. Upon retirement, he was Pastor Emeritus of Mount Hope UCC.
1956 – C. Walter Long (Born 1932) From Quakertown, a 1954 Ursinus College graduate and a 1957 graduate of Lancaster Theological Seminary. He became pastor of 4 churches in the Tannersville parish in 1957, then the Howertown-Scoenersville parish, a mission start pastor for a new church in Jackson, MI., served in Harrisonburg, VA, then served as Pastor of Church of the Manger UCC, Bethlehem, Pa. for 25 years until retirement in 1997. As of 2019 he continues to serve as a supply pastor for the PNEC. His memories of St. John’s include the beauty of our facility, the talent of the choir (in their then-green robes) & Pastor Ditzler working on his sermons Sunday mornings when he came in to teach Sunday School. He looks back with fondness at his time at St. John’s in 1956!
1957 – Barry E. Kern (1932-2011) He was a 1955 graduate of Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pa. & Lancaster Theological Seminary in 1958. He served as Associate Pastor at Philippus Church in Cincinnati, OH. where he met his future wife, Pat. Throughout his 53 years in the ministry he served UCC congregations in Toledo, Louisville, KY & Dayton. He was an interim minister serving UCC congregations in the Dayton & Springfield area from 1993-1998. Following that, he served retired pastors & spouses in the areas as an Annuitant Visitor for the Pension Boards of the UCC.
1960 – Russell F. Mertz from Sunbury, Pa. (1937-2014) A Lancaster Theological Seminary graduate, he did his internship in Foster, OH. for about a year. After that he started Platsmith, NE as his first Parish, then went to Columbus, NE in the 1960s. After Columbus, he went to Rochester, Minnesota for Chaplaincy training (Program of American College of Chaplins). After completing that, he went to Des Moines, IA., working as a Chaplain in a hospital for 5 years. Then he moved to Evanston, Wy. He worked as a Chaplain at the Wyoming State Hospital for 13 years, then retired. He then took a training in Colorado in Interim Ministry, and took a interim job in Hemingford, NE. After that church found a permanent pastor, he did a couple other jobs including one in Brule, NE and Wheatland, Wy. In 2005, he moved to Salt Lake City, UT. Shortly after, he did interim work for a year at Trinity Lutheran in Evanston, Wyoming. This was his last gig before fully retiring. He passed away February 20, 2014 in Salt Lake City, UT. (Thank you to his son Chris Mertz for the career information.)
1962 – John Franklin Callahan from Greenville, Pa. (1937-2011). A graduate of Catawba College, he received his Masters Degree in Divinity at Lancaster Theological Seminary & a Masters in Sacred Theology from Newton Theological School. He was ordained at Zion Reformed Church in Greenville, Pa. in 1963. He served in various capacities throughout New England, including Raynham, Swansea, Haverhill, Chelsea, East Providence & First Church, Swampscott. He was also a Jungian Analyst in Mansfield & Cambridge. He passed away on December 15, 2011.
1982 – Barbara Kershner (Rev. Dr. Barbara Kershner Daniel) from Philadelphia, Pa. Barbara is a 1980 graduate of Catawba College & graduated from Lancaster Theological Seminary in 1983 & received her Doctor of Ministry degree there in 1996. She served as the first-ever Associate Pastor at St. Pauls UCC in Fleetwood, Pa. from 1989 – 1993, then served as their Senior Pastor from 1993 – 2006. She has served as the Senior Pastor at Evangelical Reformed UCC in Frederick, Md. since 2006. She also served on the UCC Global Ministries Board. Her husband, Rev. Kenneth Daniel, is the president and CEO of United Church Homes and chairs the national board of directors of the Council of Health and Human Service Ministries of the UCC.
2013 – Celestine Brooks Fields – Celestine graduated from Lancaster Theological Seminary in 2013 after a career in various fields. She became Associate Pastor at David’s UCC in Canal Winchester, OH 2013-2015. From 2015-2017 she served as Chaplain of the Chrome Angelz International Riding Club based in Columbus, OH. From 2017-2018 she was pastor of Hope UCC in Rockledge, FL. In 2019 she served as Interim Minister of Sycamore Congregational Church UCC in El Cerrito, CA. She is now pastor at Arlington Community Church UCC, Kensington, Ca. She received her Doctor of Ministry degree at Lancaster Theological Seminary on May 8, 2021.
A number of St. John’s members received the call to become pastors. This started with Alfred Herman and Henry L. Krauss under the influence of our 2nd pastor, Rev. J.J. Rothrock. Many have followed, including Richard Snyder, Tim Ahrens, John B. Binde, Jay Meyer, Patti Thomas, Kim Ruth Stryjac, and more. (Please submit any names we are missing so we can add them to the list.)
This page of the website is still being researched and updated. Watch for more information. See the “Our History” page of this website for more information about the history of our church and how our pastors played a leadership role in the growth of St. John’s church!