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Monday, September 22, 2014

The "Old Bangor Episcopal" Story

Old Bangor from the east side of the church.
It was an ordinary day.  Off on a trip to visit Bangor Episcopal Church located along Rt. 23 in Churchtown, PA. Chruchtown was said to have gotten it's name because of the many churches in the hamlet, but the truth is that "Old Bangor" Episcopal, which was named after a church by the same name in Wales, had been given a grant and charter from William Penn in 1730 for the entire town.  They in turn sold off building lots to others.  So the town was so named because of Bangor Church.  It was originally founded in 1722 by a predominately Welsh congregation, then given the grant by William Penn.  The church officially created a charter on March 1, 1786, which it still operates under.  
The east side showing stones with names on them.  Not sure
what the names and dates signify. Click on photo to enlarge.
The stone building that I photo- graphed was built in 1832 and consecrated by Bishop Ondernack in 1832.  The 1 1/2 story brownstone church is rectangular with a steep slate roof with Gothic arch stained glass windows.  The steeple was added in 1880.  
The building in the rear is the 1844
Frame School Building.
As I walked around it in my shorts and t-shirt, I couldn't help but wonder what the casual dress would have been like when it was built.  Certainly busy Rt. 23 in front of the church would have been a dirt or gravel road.  Wagons would have replaced the trucks and cars that now pass by.  The interesting cemetery has 325 tombstones with probably many other unmarked graves.  In the eastern section of the cemetery stands a memorial stone with names filling part of the stone.  More than likely past members of the current congregation who have had their ashes buried in the cemetery.  As I wandered around the cemetery I found tombstones of people who fought in all the wars from the Revolutionary War to World War II.  
One of the 325 tombstones in the cemetery.
This one is marked with a plaque telling
that the person buried here was in the Mexican War.
Behind the church is a wood frame building that I found was built in 1844 and is known as the frame school building.  About 40 years ago the minister of my church, St. James Episcopal in downtown Lancaster, was Stanley Imboden.  After he retired from our congregation he became an interim pastor for Bangor Episcopal.  Today the pastor is the Rev. Canon William F. Murphey.  Beautiful church and churchyard and well worth my visit. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.



A view from the west side of the church.
Plaques telling you about the historical significance of the church.
One of the two front entrances into the church.

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