St. John's, Ashland, PA Celebrating Over 150 Years!
On Nov. 22, 1855 a small group of Ashland Residents petitioned the Rt. Rev. Alonzo Potter, D.D., Bishop of the Episcopal Church of Pennsylvania to organize an Episcopal Church in Ashland. St. John's was the first church of any denomination in Ashland. On April 1, 1856 St. John's was formally established at a meeting at the Brock Estate. The Brocks donated the land where the church still stands between 12th and 13th and Market and Arch Streets.
The cornerstone was laid on September 14, 1856 and on January 15, 1857; the Rev. J.J. Bartlett of Gloucester, NJ was installed as rector. The church was completed in the spring of 1859. It was originally known as Memorial Church of Saint John. The church boasts having an organ that is over 180 years old. It was built in 1824-25 by Thomas Appleton of Boston, a leading 19th century master of that trade. Few others like it exist. It was originally built for Beneficial Congregational Church in Providence, R.I. where it was dedicated in 1825. In 1884, the women of St. John's purchased the organ from the Roosevelt Organ Company of New York. This organ served the parish until 1971 when it underwent restoration work by James R. McFarland of Selinsgrove, financed by a gift from the estate of Elsie Cooch and Mrs. Anna Palmer.
Since then, Saint John's has played a vital role in the development of the town and has been an integral part in the lives of the people of Ashland.
Although 150 years have elapsed since the founding of the parish, its people devoted their lives to it and worked diligently in struggling times to preserve it for the glory of God.
The people are proud of their beautiful church that has long been a source of strength and enlightenment for many and it is sincerely hoped it will remain so for countless generations to come.
The basic philosophy of St. John's is embodied in this prayer hanging in the church vestibule:
"Father of all mankind, we pray that to this church all Thy children may be ever welcome. Hither may the little ones love to come and the young men and maidens to be strengthened for the battle of life. Here may the strong renew their strength and wind for their lives a noble consecration; and hither may age turn its footsteps to find the rest of God and light at the eventide. Here may the poor and needy find friends, here may the tempted find succor, the sorrowing find comfort, and the bereaved learn that over their beloved, death hath no more dominion. Here may they who fear be encouraged and they who doubt have their better trusts and hopes confirmed. Here may the careless be awakened to a sense of their folly and guilt, and to timely repentance. Here may oppressed and striving souls be assured of the mercy that triumphs over sin, and receive help to go on their way rejoicing through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."