St. James UCC - 1945
St. James UCC with Social Hall - 1990's
St. James UCC with Social Hall - present
The history of St. James United Church of Christ is an interesting story, dating back to the time of pioneer settlers of German descent. The first recorded history of St. James UCC dates back to 1803 with records written by German Lutheran and German Reformed ministers. The congregation was also organized in 1803, led by its first regular minister, the Rev. John D. Adams. Before this, services were carried out in homes and in a schoolhouse (called Hemlock, built in 1797) that was located on the present-day church property, southeast of today’s church.
The deed for the land on which the original church was located is dated “August 7, 1813.” It was a deed for two acres of land conveyed from Jacob Sanders and his wife, Mary, to John Sechler, Jr., John Reynolds, and John Foust, Jr., in trust for the Lutheran and Reformed congregations. This land included the Hemlock log schoolhouse originally used for services. The sale price was 20 pounds. The cemetery adjoining the church holds the graves of at least three Revolutionary soldiers: Anthony Diehl, Martin Richel, and Nicholas Mauser.
The date of the building of the first log church is not known. Tradition has it that each farmer was asked to furnish one row of logs for the building. These logs formed the first story of the original church, and they became covered with weatherboards and siding. In 1870 the church was renovated, and a second story was added.
A carriage house which was located a short distance from the church was enlarged and made into a social hall in 1958. In 1960 a vestibule was added to the front of the original church, and stained glass windows were added to the sanctuary. In 1973 the old social hall was demolished, and the current hall was built on the north side of the church. An outdoor bulletin board was constructed in 1978.
In 1941, Susquehanna Synod granted a request from Shiloh church that the original Danville charge (formed in the early 1800s and included Shiloh; St. James, Ridgeville; and St. John’s, Mausdale) be dissolved, making Shiloh a separate charge. St. John’s, Mausdale and St. James, Ridgeville remained together (known as the Mausdale-Ridgeville charge) until January 2002 when they became separate entities.
Ministers who served the Mausdale-Ridgeville charge were: Rev. A. Gail Hold, 1941-42; Rev. Hoyt L. Whitebread, 1942-45; Rev. Charles F. Glass, 1946-51; Rev. Thomas G. Jones, 1951-61; Rev. Forrest L. Gass, 1961-68; Rev. Clarence Moyer, 1968-70; Rev. Paul W. Cope, 1971-77; Rev. Richard Shearer, 1978-present.
Unfortunately, the original two-story church became unsafe for further occupancy due to extreme aging of the supporting wooden beams and stone foundation. This building was torn down in 2004, and a new one-story, handicapped accessible church was constructed on the site of the old church in 2005. Notably, all of the stained glass windows from the original building were incorporated into the architecture of the new church. Of course, heating and air conditioning became welcome additions with the new construction. The original church will always provide fond memories for our congregation, but our new church is a beautiful reminder of the love and grace of God