St. Mark's Lutheran Church

St. Mark's Pastors

Rev. Abraham Reeser HorneRev. Abraham Reeser HorneOn April 1, 1865 the dynamic Rev. Abraham Reeser Horne of Turbotville was called to Williamsport to become pastor of the then “Market St. Lutheran Church.”  President Lincoln had been assassinated the evening before and the general atmosphere was sad and gloomy. The St. Patrick’s Day Flood of 1865, which had demolished the first Market Street Bridge and had thoroughly soaked both the church and parsonage, was still very fresh in the minds of the congregation who had worked so hard to put their buildings in a presentable shape for their new pastor. The terrible Civil War was just drawing to a close, many of the dead and wounded were being brought home, and Williamsport and St. Mark’s, not excepted, saw many a sad sight.

For three years, services had been conducted in both German and English. Finally the German Church with a membership of 230, thinking she was large enough to support a separate house of worship and pastor of her own, left the English Congregation and built the German Immanuel Church on Basin Street, the Rev. Mr. Zentner being their first pastor.

Rev. A.R. Horne, D.D.In 1866, Williamsport was incorporated into a city and with the growth of Williamsport, it is understandable that South Williamsport had grown too. Streets had been laid out and a school house erected. In December, 1867 (St. Mark’s then only 15 years old), twelve St. Mark’s members, living in South Williamsport, separated from the Mother Church and started their own congregation across the river. This is now Messiah’s Lutheran Church.

In 1868, in spite of these two divisions, Pastor Horne recorded a communicant membership of 307. 

About this same time, the storm which had been gathering momentum for some time in the Lutheran Church over the “Augsburg Confession” (worship, customs, doctrine, and polity) finally broke.  One group of Lutherans being of an American type mind, eager for progress and success and willing to throw overboard as an encumbrance the priceless heritage left by the fathers, and the other group having the German spirit, clinging tenaciously to the tradition of the elders, clashed over these churchly principles.

Rev. Horne, from the face plate of Pennsylvania German manual, for pronouncing, speaking and writing EnglishSt. Mark’s Church lay in the path of the storm and it became necessary to choose the group with which they would affiliate. The majority voted to unite with the Ministerium of Pennsylvania and the General Council, but the minority who did not wish this move withdrew. Uniting with the General Synod, they organized a new church of their own.  The result was a split in the church, the first group remaining with the General Synod, subscribing to the Augsburg Confession with some reservations, and the latter group breaking away to form the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. On April 30, 1871, the second division of St. Mark’s was accomplished with the birth of St. Paul’s, the Rev. Joel Swartz being their first pastor. St. Paul’s was the second English speaking Lutheran Church in Williamsport, and it is well to note that both congregations worked together to further the work of the Gospel in Williamsport.

Interestingly, in his History of Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, 1892, p. 410, John F Meginness pointed to Rev. Horne's involvement with the Williamsport public schools: 

In 1868 the [Williamsport] school board passed a resolution to elect a superintendent of the city schools according to the act of 1867. June 6, 1868, Rev. A. R. Horne, an experienced teacher, was selected. When he went into office there were only forty-two schools. In June, 1872, he was succeeded by Prof. J. F. Davis.

In 1871, Rev. Horne received a call to the position of President of Kutztown Normal School, and after one of the most eventful pastorates in its history, severed his connections with St. Mark’s. 

Pennsylvania German manual, for pronouncing, speaking and writing English, 3rd Edition (1910)Horne's Pennsylvania German Manual, 1876Rev. Horne apparently became a proponent of bilingual education, particularly with respect to the Pennsylvania Germans.  He wrote on the subject while a professor in Kutztown.  In 1875 he authored a text entitled, Pennsylvania German manual, for pronouncing, speaking and writing English, a seminal volume on the subject matter, which was printed in four separate editions through 1910  The volume was recently republished, in 2007.  Google has scanned the text of the 1905 edition.

He returned to the church for the fiftieth anniversary in 1902 and was photographed in the sanctuary of the 1896 church.