The history of the original Elgin Covenant Church in Pennsylvania…
Methodism began in our father Church in Maryland in about 1837 when Hazleton was made part of a circuit belonging to the old Baltimore Conference and covering the greater part of Luzerne County. Such a circuit meant that the minister traveled many miles in his mission of preaching at the various points on his circuit. Hazleton became a preaching point with services held in the old schoolhouse built on the ground where the City Hall now stands. From this group developed the organization that is known as the Elgin Covenant Church.
As Hazleton grew larger and a portion known as “The Diamond Addition” was added to the town, Methodism reached out beyond its original boundaries to serve the new section.
A number of members of the Church, who were residents of this new section, had under consideration for some time the advisability of organizing a mission in that section of town. The project was brought up and sanctioned in a Quarterly Conference held in 1888 and early in 1889 it assumed practical shape.
For some time, meetings were held in the homes of these earnest Christians with pastors of several denominations giving their services to help shepherd the group. Finally, a building on Alter and Third Streets, at one time occupied by a plumbing establishment and later a clothing store, was rented. The first prayer meeting in this new Methodist Episcopal Mission was held on Friday evening, February 15, 1889, with Rev. John Donahue of St. Paul’s officiating.
It was not long before the members became dissatisfied with rented quarters and launched a plan to purchase a plot of ground and build a church. The site selected was Located on Locust and Third Streets. The lot 42 ft. by 200 ft., was obtained for $750.00.
The new building had a contract price of $1,600.00 included building, furniture and fixtures. The building was a one story frame structure 34x48x1 8 feet high with a seating capacity of three hundred. The new building was dedicated on Sunday, December 1, 1889, with Rev. John Donahue, the new presiding elder, in charge of the services.
In June, 1890, the church officials obtained a charter from the state incorporating the organization and naming it the Elgin Covenant Church of Hazleton, Pennsylvania.
The congregation continued to worship at Third and Locust Streets for nine years. The Mission grew in numbers and influence until it seemed necessary to provide larger quarters for the growing congregation. In 1904 the congregation decided to purchase the plot of ground at the northeast corner of Diamond Avenue and Locust Streets. This lot, 105×175 feet, was purchased for the sum of $9,000.00.
Plans were drawn up for a beautiful structure to cover the entire plot of ground with the building fronting on the Avenue. It seemed advisable to erect the chapel in the rear of the plot first. This chapel was to serve the congregation both as a house of Worship and a church school until the congregation was prepared to continue the work and complete the structure.
The plans were completed to erect a structure of gray brick at a cost of $19,000. The old building on Locust Street was sold for $3,500.00 which helped reduce the indebtedness.
The chapel, which served as the house of Worship until the completion of the new Nave, was formally dedicated on Sunday, June 30, 1912.
The church celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1939 with a week of special services which brought former ministers and members back to the church for its golden anniversary.
The Rev. Gordon Hinkle followed the Rev. Brumbaugh from 1940 to 1945. Some minor repairs were made to the property at this time, but the most outstanding achievement was the landscaping of the church yard. A cross of red roses was planted and cultivated and bloomed for many years. The yard became an attractive spot and continued so until ground was broken for the new sanctuary in 1962.
In 1957 Rev. Brian A. Fetterman was appointed minister at Diamond, and on March 6, 1960, under the leadership of Rev. Fetterman, a committee was formed to investigate the feasibility of erecting a new nave. On Sunday, April 29, 1962 ground breaking services were held. The new contemporary-style edifice was erected at a cost of approximately $150,000. On December 2, 1962 the cornerstone was laid at the Diamond Avenue and Locust Street location.