Our story starts, of course, with Jesus Christ, "the Church's One Foundation" and the Fount of our Salvation. Everything that we are, everything that we ever could be, we owe to him. But our chapter of this bigger story starts more recently, with a Lancaster County man named Jacob Albright (1759-1808). Raised as a Lutheran, he found no spiritual comfort in his upbringing. Thrown into crisis by the deaths of several children, Albright found the spiritual transformation he needed through the ministry of a Reformed pastor named Anthony Houtz. Joining a local Methodist class-meeting led by his neighbor Isaac Davies, Albright grew in the grace of God and dedicated himself to prayer. By 1796, he felt fully convicted that God wanted to send him out to preach a gospel of holiness to German-speakers in America.
When the Methodist Episcopal Church refused to support his mission to German-speakers, however, Albright struck out on his own, preaching the gospel in homes and anywhere he could. By 1800, he gathered about twenty believers into three classes, and the growth kept going from there. Though Albright died in 1808 in Kleinfeltersville, his people (die Albrechtsleute) didn't die out. Instead, they organized themselves as the Evangelical Association (die Evangelische Gemeinschaft) and continued growing. By 1875, they had over 95,000 members!
A year earlier than this fabulous benchmark, an Evangelical Association preacher named B. D. Albright organized a class of believers in Salisbury Township; they were chartered on April 29, 1874. Initially just a group of ten believers meeting in a local schoolhouse, they were a regular stop on the Conestoga Circuit, where the assigned Evangelical preacher would ride from stop to stop to minister to the believers' needs. A couple of years later, they received permission from the local school board to hold a protracted revival meeting and more than quadrupled their numbers.
Now a larger group, they bought a plot of land from John B. Kurtz, a knoll located on his farm about half a mile west of White Horse. The land was bought at a price of $300 per acre - expensive, in those days, but prime real estate with a commanding presence on the countryside. On that plot, this group of believers - the Pequea Church (Old Road) of the Evangelical Association - laid a cornerstone on August 19, 1877, with much preaching and celebration. In just over two months, thanks to support from the local community and some members from another nearby Evangelical church at Mt. Airy, the Pequea believers built a frame building, 38 feet by 56 feet with a vestibule and gallery. The cost was about $1500, but when the church was dedicated on October 28, 1877, the building was "filled from the door to the pulpit", reported the circuit's then-preacher (Rev. George D. Sweigert), and "the sum of $621 was secured during the day to help pay the expenses of the building".
In 1908, the church built nineteen hitching sheds for horses east of the church building. In 1912, the church building itself underwent major remodeling, with the movement of the doors to the east side of the building, and new pews were purchased, the pews still in use today. In 1916, for a cost of $1,100, the church bought a parsonage in the village of White Horse itself and built a garage behind it in 1922. Meanwhile, in 1919, the church organized a Women's Missionary Society with 21 members, whose labors - including rolling bandages, assembling sewing kits, and making quilts and children's dresses - were geared toward supporting Evangelical mission projects in India, while they also made bed pads for the Evangelical retirement home in Myerstown. Later, the 1970s and 1980s saw several series of renovations - the sanctuary was renovated in 1972, a basement was dugout in 1977, and then in 1988, the bell tower was removed, a narthex was created, and upstairs lavatories and a church office were added, while the parking lot was expanded and paved. More than just updating our structures, though, the decades have seen many cycles of quietly discipling generations in the footsteps of Jesus.
But friends, our history isn't finished. We have a firm conviction that the Lord has many good things in store - he isn't done with us yet! We're committed to wisely examining our heritage and bringing the best of it into contact with the twenty-first century communities around us in Lancaster and Chester Counties and beyond in faith, hope, love, and service. We invite you to come be a part of what's to come!