It was the year 1929 that sixteen members joined hearts and hands to form the Pilgrim Holiness Church in East Athens, Pa. under the capable leadership of Rev. George Becker as minister. During the ministry of the following pastors — Rev. W. Lawrence, Rev. Lorrin Wilson, Rev. Milton E. Pierpoint, and Rev. Robert Addington - the congregation increased to such size that the need for more room was imperative. Thus the purchase on September 29, 1948 of the present lots on the corner of Madison and Wilbur Avenues in Sayre for the purpose of building a new church was made.
Shortly following this purchase Rev. Addington was called to another field of service and Rev. Frank T. Finch came to be our pastor. It was under the direction of Rev. Finch that the ground breaking service on June 29, 1952 was held. The first shovelful of earth was turned over by Bert Lantz, chairman of the Board of Trustees at this time. A few days later construction began on the new church.
The cornerstone of the new church was laid September 14, 1952. A copper box was placed in it containing a Bible, church manual, the membership roll of East Athens Pilgrim Holiness Church, the names of the officers of the church and Sunday School and those who donated time and effort in the construction of the building. The Bible placed in the box was owned by Mrs. Carrie Merrill, 84 years of age at this time, and the oldest living charter member of the church. Her written testimony was also placed within the Bible.
Dedication services were held October 4,1953 with Rev. 0. L. Fay conducting the formal rite of dedication. This building valued at $70,000 was completed at a total cost of $30,000 due to the many hours of strenuous labor donated by the pastor and people. Rev. Finch with several older members of the congregation — Bert Lantz, Charles Merrill, and Arthur Merrill — actually gave a portion of their very lives into the construction of this building. All the people had a mind to work and did so.
Rev. Finch remained to lead this people until May 15, 1955 when he accepted another pastorate at Watsontown, Pa. We were then privileged to have Rev. William K. George for our pastor. Under the direction of the Lord, he was able to give to us a working” organization which spelled progress in all departments of the church. Many material gains were accomplished among them being the purchase of a new organ. New spiritual advancement was also made. The resignation of Rev. George became effective November 1960. Rev. Bobbie L. Bidwell came to us at this time. Under his leadership the church mortgage was burned. In 1966 due to a significant increase in numbers an addition to the front and side of the church was added. Bro. Bidwell labored faithfully and was given a lifetime call.
Under his leadership the church continued to grow in numbers and spiritually with the presence of God felt in our midst. Rev. Bidwell felt led of God to go to another field of labor and in 1971 he and his family moved to pastor in Gratz, Pa. Rev. Billie B. Bidwell followed in 1971 and while he was pastoring here the church had the opportunity to purchase the former Wolfe residence across the street from the church. In January 1973, after redecorating and installing a new kitchen the parsonage family moved into this “new” parsonage. This 15 room home has been a great addition to the church due to its adequate size and large adjoining lot. Rev. Bidwell labored faithfully until the summer of 1981.
Rev. Edward Lecates assumed the pastorate of the Sayre church in July 1981 through the summer of 1987. He was followed by Rev. Ronald Eichel, Rev. Lawrence Burcaw, Rev. Doug Manns and the current pastor Rev. John Lum.
From 1929 to the present time marks a period of God’s blessing on this church. Though many have come and gone from our midst — some to other places of service and others promoted to their eternal home — yet God continues to aid his people. May God grant that the past and present attainments be only incentives to bigger and better accomplishments for Him and His Kingdom in the future.
Last modified 12/9/00