The year 1747 is the date given for the founding of this Christ Church. However, German-speaking residents of the area assembled together for Sunday worship in the tradition of the Reformed Church in the German Palatinate a few years prior to that.
In the earliest days of the Christ Church congregation, the local Lutheran congregation and possibly some Presbyterian congregation shared the same log building. The stone tower on this church was a part of the original Christ church building.
It was preserved and included in today’s structure which was erected in the early 1800s. It is a square tower made of native stone and is surmounted by a steeple and belfry. The belfry contains three bells imported from Germany. The bells were imported a few years after the Revolution by a Revolutionary soldier named Michael Yeasley. The largest of the three bells is engraved with the date 1732 and “Rouen,” suggesting a French manufacture.
The cemetery was established in 1774 and is right beside the church. There were graves of soldiers who served in the American War for Independence and some headstones were inscribed in German.
In the Eighteenth century, the Christ Church name also included the word “German” to distinguish it from the Dutch Reformed Church. Another denomination formed in the United States to include both Lutheran and Reformed traditions. It was called the Evangelical Synod of North America. In 1934, Christ Church merged with the Evangelical Synod and became known as the Christ Evangelical and Reformed Church in Shepherdstown after it was realized that the national leadership of the Church desired cooperation and unity.
The landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth in 1620 signified the beginning of the denomination in America. Many years later, in 1957, The United Church of Christ was formed, and the name of Christ Church in Shepherdstown became Christ Reformed Church, United Church of Christ.
By: Cindie Harper