Special Projects

Original Church Structure moving the
Miller Meeting House
to Camp Eder

    Before its closing in the mid 1990's, the Lower Cumberland congregation consisted of two meeting houses: Miller along Route 34, north of Carlisle toward Sterrett's Gap, and Mohler's along Route 15, just north of the Turnpike. Miller's was built in 1855 on land donated by a Joseph Miller who was a deacon of that congregation. Nearby mountain stone was used to build the thirty by thirty-four foot church with a matching vestibule added in 1954. With the demise of this congregation, the District Steward's Commission endeavored to sell the property but continually incurred problems associated with legal transfer requirements or complications involving future trusteeship, particularly land that includes a cemetery. A solution was ultimately reached to move the structure to Camp Eder where it would serve as a chapel. Photo: "Change and Challenge," Gleim.
    History of the Lower Cumberland Congregation

          The German Baptists were in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, shortly after the country was organized in 1750. Early records show that early German Baptist settlers included the families of John Brindle, Martin Brandt, Jacob Bricker, Jacob Cocklin, John Cocklin, Gideon Coover, Samuel Niesley, Jacob Strock, Jacob Miller, Daniel Mohler, Christian Mohler, and Leonard Wolfe. Most influential in the forming of this house congregation were the Mohler and Miller families. The growing congregation divided in 1836 to form the Upper Cumberland (Huntsdale / Newville) and Lower Cumberland (Mohlers / Millers) congregations. Moses and Joseph Miller decided to build a Meeting House along present Route 34 and south of Sterrets Gap. This route was also part of the “Underground Railroad” which assisted slaves escaping into free northern territories. A few African-American people are buried in the Miller Cemetery, although their markers have Anglicized names such as Fisher and Finkbinder. Early German Baptist family names in this cemetery are Bear, Hostetter, Leib, Lesher, Miller, Nickey, Rebert, Shatto, Strayer, Wilson, and Wolf. The first structure was comparatively small but could minister to as many as a hundred persons. In 1954, an addition of an entrance was made to the front with a cornerstone, stating: Miller's Church of the Brethren 1855-1954.

          The congregation continued to experience steady growth and required several separate Meeting Houses, including Baker's and Mohlers (1861). The latter was constructed on land given by Solomon Mohler to minister to members in the Allen Township region, and to provide a gathering site for all-day Love Feasts and Communions. In 1907, the Lower Cumberland Congregation was one of eighteen churches of the Pennsylvania Southern District, but throughout the 20th Century, this congregation began to lose membership as spinoffs and new congregations were organized. The Carlisle church emerged between 1907 and 1914. In 1926, the Boiling Springs Church and the Mechanicsburg Church were formed. Disputes created by the organization of the Dunkard Brethren Church movement struck the Lower Cumberland with a still further loss of members. By 1930, the church was listed with 87 members. The local Dunkard Brethren constructed their own worship site in Mechanicsburg on ground donated by Jacob and Harriet Galley. Membership in the Lower Cumberland congregation continued to decline and listed 58 members by 1934. Except for intermittent periods of growth, the congregation continued to decline until there were only about 20 members in 1996.

          Members of Lower Cumberland played a prominent role at both the District and Denominational levels. Levi Mohler was a well known evangelist for thirty-six years. Isaac Barto and Donald Hollinger appear in District affairs. Jacob Hershman was a minister who became active in the then Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Henry Kauffman Miller was one of the active leaders of the 1903 Committee that established the Brethren's Home at Huntsdale, Pennsylvania (now at New Oxford).

    Miller Church Cemetery


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