We were formally organized in 1790 as the Lost Creek congregation, which eventually included four different meeting houses; Bunkertown, Free Spring, Oriental, and Richfield. This congregation has the notable distinction of being the first in the District (PA Southern) to hire a full-time, salaried pastor in 1916 when John Rowland accepted our invitation, after expressing his need of $600 a year for support of self and family. Over the years, each sister-church gradually became self-supporting and established itself as a bone fide congregation. The name Lost Creek has not been used since 1989 when the remaining two houses, Bunkertown and Free Spring, amicably chose separate identities with different pastors, budgets, and staff.
District & Annual Conferences
District Conferences were held at Bunkertown (then known as Lost Creek) in 1877, 1884, 1896, 1917, 1953, 1974, and 2009. Church of the Brethren Annual Conference has been held twice near Bunkertown. In 1833, Annual Conference (then known as Annual Meeting) was convened at a farm only 4 miles to the north-east. It was stated that hundreds of horses and carriages were maintained in a pasture without one incident of injury to horse or carriage. In 1885, Annual Conference was held on a farm located about 15 miles to the south-west of Bunkertown, near the railroad along the Juniata river. By the latter part of the Nineteenth Century the Brethren were traveling by locomotive, and it became important that host farms were situated near or in the vicinity of a railroad.
Our Good Will
Bunkertown's meeting house was originally called the Good Will Meetinghouse. In the early 1780's, John Shellenberger, a Geneva clock-maker who owned land on which the Town of Bunkertown now stands was approached by members of the local Brethren community requesting enough property to build a meeting house. He sold the land to them, accepting no price but their anticipated good will. The first structure was erected in 1831, and later replaced by a larger two-story structure dating from 1891. One innovation of this construction was an indoor baptismal pool, a novel concept among Brethren of the time. A modern sanctuary was added with renovation of the older building into classrooms and enlarged fellowship hall which was completed in 1961. By the mid 1980s visions of greater ministry energized them to relocate and build a larger facility on land donated by Edward and Beverly Sausman, that was located just Across The Road.
Twelve different full-time, salaried pastors have served at the Bunkertown Meeting House since its founding in 1790, this naturally excludes Elders and several individuals in the free ministry plus all interim pastors. Beginning in 1916, Rev. John Rowland was the first full-time, salaried pastor to serve any congregation in Pennsylvania Southern District.