In the month of February 1914, Rev. Ernest Craible, a Methodist minister, held revival services in the tabernacle in Tunkhannock, Pa. During these services Charles Rowe, a young man of 28, attended a service, where he was gripped by powerful conviction of the Holy Spirit. He stood to his feet, went to an altar of prayer and was wonderfully saved.
Charles Rowe was a product of a broken home and was held by the twin vices of tobacco and alcohol for many years. His home life was unhappy because of his addiction and he often despaired of ever finding deliverance. However, from this time forth his victory over these habits was complete. A short time later his wife also gave her heart to the Lord. Later, both were sanctified.
In 1922 while traveling as a salesman for the J. R. Watkins Co., he was asked by some Sunday School workers to preach in a school house in Evens Falls, Pa. As he felt the call of the Lord to the ministry, he consented to go for a service. Alter the service the people voted unanimously to have him continue to hold services Sunday mornings.
A short time after this he was contacted by Mrs. Sam Sickler (who later became a member of the Pilgrim Holiness Church) to hold services in the Hunter school house, Jenks, Pa. on Sunday evenings. (Mrs. Sickler had been holding Sunday School classes there.) He consented to come and on the first evening Mrs. Sickler’s two sons, Chester and his wife and Clarence and Ethel Brown, who later became his wife, were saved.
Another call came from Mrs. Nellie Brown for a meeting in the Baptist Church in Vernon, Pa. A Revival meeting was held that continued for three weeks. Souls were saved and those who were saved in the school house were sanctified. Many Free Methodist people helped in these meetings as Bro. Rowe had joined the Free Methodist Church and was a lay preacher of the church.
At this time prayer meetings were begun in Tunkhannock on Wednesday nights. Jail services were conducted on Thursday nights and street meetings were held on Saturday nights. These street meetings were held on the corner of Tioga and Bridge streets and were continued until the crowds got so big that it sometimes hindered traffic. At this time the town fathers refused permission to have the meetings continued. The new-born were witnessing to victory in Jesus. In 1926 the American Legion Hall, located on the second floor of the Herrick block, corner of Tioga and Bridge Streets was rented for $8 a month. A Mission was started on interdenominational lines. In spite of much opposition the Lord blessed this people with converts.
While in secret prayer one day Bro. Rowe was led of the Lord to contact Rev. David Wilson for revival services. He had seen his name in a Christian Paper called “The Way Of Holiness.” A letter was written and Rev. Wilson came. The Lord blessed with several being saved and sanctified. At a later date Rev. Ethel Wilson came and held a ten day meeting. Again the Lord blessed. The people were invited to attend the New York District Conference at Binghamton, NY and a camp meeting at Port Dickinson, NY. The sweet fellowship and the spirit of the people so impressed the people of Tunkhannock that contact was made with H. Wilson to organize a Pilgrim Holiness Church in Tunkhannock.
Rev. A. H. Wilson, District Superintendent of the New York District, organized the Tunkhannock Pilgrim Holiness Church consisting of ten members on November 22, 1934. This service was held in Rev. Rowe’s home in Dixon, Pa. The charter members were as follows: Rev. Charles Rowe, Mrs. Ella Rowe, Mr. Chester Sickler, Mr. Clarence Sickler, Mrs. Hattie Emmonds, Mrs. Wanda D. Emmonds, Miss Dorothy Brucher, Miss Alice Brucher, Miss Elizabeth Brucher and Miss Bessie Hagerman.
There were no buildings available in which to hold services at this time so the services were held in different homes. It was not long, however, before the Lord opened the doors for the church to purchase a building on Bridge Street, just south of the Harding Funeral Home. The building was purchased for $700. Money was hard to secure, but with the $75 in the treasury and a gift from Clarence Sickler of $25 they were able to make the down payment. Payments of $100 a year plus interest were made. The last payment was made May 3, 1940. Later improvements of $400 were made.
Due to the poor health of his wife, Rev. Rowe resigned his pastorate of the Tunkhannock Church in 1949.
Rev. Benjamin Rickenbach, Jr., his wife, Octavia, and their three children came to live at the church parsonage.
Rev. Rickenbach’s ministry was fruitful with a number being saved and sanctified. Services were held for some time in Thurston Hollow where many new people were contacted by the church.
At a business meeting of the church board, January 19, 1950, a report was given that a piece of land had been purchased on the southeast corner of West Street and West Tioga Street for $1,200. Plans were made to build a church and parsonage.
The present church was started sometime in 1950 and dedicated June 8, 1952. Rev. 0. L. Fay, District Superintendent, was the speaker. Rev. Frank Finch of Athens, Pa. prayed and Rev. Rickenbach, Sr. prayed the dedicatory prayer. The Christianaires from Allentown Bible Institute sang for this service. There was an overflow crowd.
Sometime later, another lot was purchased which adjoined the church property and a fine parsonage was completed just a few years before Rev. Rickenbach’s death from a heart attack.
The church board voted unanimously to stay with the Pilgrim Holiness Church of New York at a meeting February 25, 1963 and the church later voted to sustain the action of the board.
Pastors who have served the church since Rev. Rickenbach’s death in 1962 are as follows: Rev. Lloyd Stuart - 1962 to 1963, Rev. Donald Myers - 1963 to 1970, Rev. Francis Richmond - 1970 to 1981.
The organ in the church was purchased in memory of Rev. Benjamin Rickenbach. The piano and the piano light was given in memory of the founder of the church, Rev. Charles Rowe. The Communion table was dedicated in memory of Mrs. Nellie Greenley.
The Lord has richly blessed the Tunkhannock Church with many spiritual young people. One of our girls, Mrs. Jeannie Beveridge and her husband, Howard, have been missionaries to Brazil. Three of our young men attended Penn View Bible Institute in the early seventies. With the help of the Lord, the Church will continue to prosper and be a soul-winning station for God’s Kingdom.
Young men that have gone out from this church into the ministry, and who are now pastoring are Kenneth Sickler, Paul Sickler Jr., James Brewer. (Phillip Brewer) The pastors who have followed are Bro. Norman Blowers - 1981 to 1984, Bro. Lonnie Dunn - 1984 to 1985, Bro. Wesley Holden - 1985 to 1993, Bro. John Whitaker - 1993 to 1995, and Bro. Jonathan Watters - 1995 to present.
Our piano was dedicated in 1971, in memory of Bro. Rowe.
The remodeling and addition to the rear of the church which includes a nursery and pastor’s study along with an additional Sunday school classroom was started in 1975.
The Christian Day School was started under Bro. Blowers in 1982, and is now flourishing with a resurgence of student enrollment.
Our organ was purchased in 1983 and dedicated in memory of Bro. Rickenbach.
The collection plates were dedicated in 1984, in memory of Lyman McCain.
The steeple was placed upon the church in 1987.
The Pulpit furniture was dedicated in 1981, during the mortgage burning service. Bro. Lloyd Stuart and Bro. Myers officiated.
The beautiful lighted church sign was placed in the front of the church in 1990.
The Bible and holder located on the communion table were placed in memory of Lyman McCain in 1994, by his grandchildren.
An additional remodeling, including carpeting, new doors, new paint and various other things was completed in 1996.
Last modified 12/9/00