Today we carry the Gospel forward and celebrate the ten-talent and five-talent people we meet in the “Bethany Story” which takes us back to 1862 and the tragedy when our nation was about to be caught up in the fiercest and deadliest campaigns in the Civil War.
We are sitting today where families sat and prayed for fathers, brothers, and sons who had joined the Union Army, determined to fight to abolish slavery.
On September 17, 1862 when Rev. Joseph H. Hendricks was into his sixth month as Pastor of this congregation, earlier skirmishes in the battle between Confederate and Union armies turned fierce in what would be known as the Battle of Antietam. At the creek by that name, near Sharpsburg, Maryland, the first major battle in the American Civil War took place on Union soil. It is the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, with a combined tally of dead, wounded, and missing at 22,717.
Rev. Emmanuel Boehringer, a German Reformed pastor from Philadelphia who was traveling during the summer months from Norfolk, Virginia, happened to arrive in Sharpsburg in time to witness the carnage, bodies of the dead and dying and wounded scattered across the countryside. Helping to dress wounds over the next few days, Boehringer heard the fears of the dying. Showing him photographs of sons and daughters, they asked, “What will become of them?” The dream of an orphan’s home was born.
Although today Bethany is a regional ministry serving hundreds of children, youth, and families across Eastern Pennsylvania, it began on a Civil War battlefield as the dream of one man, The Rev. Emmanuel Boehringer…and his talents.
Arriving in Philadelphia, Boehringer began to show colleagues the tattered photos collected at Antietam. “Veterans homes, veterans hospitals, but what about the children?” he asked. Confident that help would come, he began taking orphans into his Philadelphia home at 702 Morris Street. On September 21, 1863, Bethany’s first resident, six year-old Caroline Engel, arrived at the Boehringer home. The home’s original name was “The Orphans Home of the Shepherd of the Lambs.”
12.- (Pastel) By 1864, the Boehringer home was too small for the growing orphan family. A large old house was found in the Bridesburg area of Philadelphia. The sale price was $5,500.
One hundred persons were found willing to donate $50 each and the building was bought. On July 13, 1864, the move from Morris Street to Bridesburg was made.
Rev. Boehringer was still not satisfied. Instead of one building housing fifty to a hundred children, he envisioned smaller houses, with about a dozen boys or girls in each. In September, construction began on what seemed to be the first of many buildings supervised by Boehringer. But on September 21st, his wife, Christiana died of jaundice. Just five weeks later, Boehringer himself was dead at age forty-one of “nervous fever.”
By 1867, the Bridesburg site was proving too expensive. The buildings were not well suited to the children’s needs and both children and staff suffered from chills and fever a larger part of the year. The Board of Managers decided to look for another location.
The Board learned that Manderbach Springs, a summer resort at the foot of south Mountain near Womelsdorf, was going to be sold. On June 27, 1867, the Board of Managers arrived at Womelsdorf to inspect the property. It was exactly what they wanted. The price was $34,000, but the Home’s treasury had less than $50. The hotel owner agreed to lower the price to $33,000. Each Board member pledged to contribute $1,000. With that, the decision was made; they would purchase the property. On October 1, 1867, the Home moved from Philadelphia to Womelsdorf.
By 1871, the “Orphans’ Home of the Shepherd of the Lambs” was settled in Womelsdorf, and the debt had been retired. It was also becoming clear the name was just too long to be practical.
One day when Dr. Benjamin Bausman, President of the Board of Managers, was visiting the home, he was overheard to say, “When I come here, I feel a holy atmosphere hovering over this place. Surely the Lord must love to dwell here.” A place where the Lord loved to be? Where could that be except the home of Mary and Martha in the town of Bethany? The idea was given to the Board for consideration, and on October 21, 1873 the name was officially changed. The home has been known as Bethany ever since.
The Original Gateway to Manderbach Springs Resort, still today’s gateway, opening up to 357 acres of beautiful and scenic property for children and youth to call “home”
Old photos show: Frick Cottage, the oldest building on campus, once known as the little boys’ cottage, is now used for the Arts program featuring pottery and glass-work; the School House. Today, all youth attend public school in the Conrad Weiser School District. Leinbach Cottage - the young girls home; Applegate Lodge that was the Home of the Superintendent, now the building for Bethany’s Music Therapy Program. The Bethany Hospital took care of all the medical needs. Today, Bethany has a nursing staff and medical partnerships in the community to help care for the kids.
From the beginning, providing an opportunity to develop faith and spiritual growth was important at Bethany. In the early 1900’s Bausman Church was being erected and it caught fire. The building was constructed again and in 1905 opened its doors. The church is still active today at Bethany with a weekly worship service.
A Snapshot of former years shows when most of the residents were orphans. Now they may come from a dysfunctional family, a parent or youth, themselves in crisis and needing counseling and respite care, and find a place they may call home: - Bethany today: a new Administration building, Bethany Farm, Dietrich Cottage for boys, Leinbach for girls, along with a variety of home-like cottages with a set of house parents and childcare support. Moyer Cottage is a sampling of the homelike atmosphere. In 2000 Henning Center was built to provide emergency shelter for kids in crisis. During the summer Bethany’s pool and grounds are very popular for outdoor activities.
Today, Bethany youth are creating pottery bowls and ornaments as part of their art therapy programs. Items are then sold to support their program. All the cottages participated in Anniversary Day this year. Each one had a stand with games, food, dunk tank, etc… to raise funds for special cottage trips. Brobst Cottage raised enough money to go the Shore for a Day. A fun activity to kickoff the spring time. The annual fishing rodeo at Bethany’s pond.
Youth themselves pose in prom-like attire to say “Thank you” for the life they find at Bethany with a range of programs that provide: Intake Health Screening
Health oversight and referral
Psychiatric Services on site
Spiritual Assessments at intake
Spiritual Services including character and moral development
Siblings can be placed together and receive sibling counseling
Sibling and family visits available
Bethany Education Coordinator located on Conrad Weiser School
District Grounds responsible solely for Bethany Youth
Daily life skills training for all youth through cottage living
Music Therapy facilitated by Board Certified Music Therapists
Arts and Crafts and Recreation with dedicated recreation staff
40. - In April of last year Bethany was awarded the first ever Mocavo Community Digitization Grant, the culmination of the efforts of Carl Bloss, a previous resident of Bethany from 1937-1952 who returned seeking genealogical clues and answers regarding his paternal family, but found no archival program in place. In 2009, Carl began volunteering to organize and properly preserve their significant collections, which include photographs, 16mm motion picture film, scrapbooks, documents, and registers.
(Over the past year Mocavo has been working to digitize and transcribe two ledger books containing information about the children who were residents of the home between 1863-1990. The Book of Life, a chronological record of children admitted since 1863, and the two-volume Book of Children, the beginning of a records page for each child from 1886 to 1906. These eventually became files for each child, many included a photograph upon entering, admittance information, adoption or foster home, discharge information and other writings pertaining to the child.)
Now, through the grant, the valuable information preserved by volunteers is available online.
41.- The staff at Bethany joins the residents in sending their “thanks” to churches, agencies, and individuals who are helping through volunteer service, grants, money gifts and endowments that help fund their ministry to the 65 youth between the ages of 12 and 18, residing on campus or staying for special short term programs.
42.- (Logo for Christmas) We look forward to being involved in a small way when we bring gifts TO Santa to be taken to Bethany to distribute at Christmas and on birthdays.
43.- (Photo) Bethany’s logo has a companion that is an onsite symbol. It is the Manderbach Spring and the gateway leading to the campus. The spring which is now covered is still active today and provides water to the entire campus and a few of the neighbors. Some is bottled and sold, realizing an income for Bethany.
Just as many in years past came to Manderbach Springs for a “holiday” and to be refreshed by the natural springs, the healing waters of Bethany’s ministry to provide a brighter future for the kids in their care through the ministry that helps them feel safe, learn life skills, and become our future leaders.
44. – (Gospel slide) The Bethany story of ministry that carries the Gospel forward through individuals, who like the first two, will hear, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave,…enter into the joy of your master.”