The first known religious services held in Brady Township took place in the bar room of the tavern of Lebbeus Luther, at Luthersburg, probably about 1825. To now speak of a religious meeting being held in a bar room is somewhat shocking, but it must be remembered at that time the manufacturing and dealing in liquor had not become an unethical occupation. Beer in this locality was not known, and the sale of hard liquor was limited. It was a great disgrace to become drunk, and throughout Brady Township there were but two known “topers”, who were looked upon with contempt and pity in not being able to control their appetite. Again, the bar room was a public institution for all kinds of meetings.
At this time, hymn books were unknown, and Bibles were very scarce. The minister had to be able to lead the singing, and he used the “lining system” for hymns, that is, he would read two lines, or maybe a verse of four lines of the hymn, which would be sung by the congregation, and then another “lining” until the hymn was completed. This was before the age of clocks and lights. All evening meetings were announced for “early candlelight”, and when a meeting was held in the evening, the patrons usually carried tallow candles with them for lighting purposes.
As before stated, the first building for public purposes was a log building erected in the cemetery at Luthersburg.
The Sunday School is usually the forerunner of churches. The first Sunday School held in the Beightol School House, or “sheep pen”, was organized in the spring or summer of about 1860, and Samuel Postlethwait was the superintendent. A Sunday School did not exist in winter. The school building would be cold, and it required the wading through the snow long distances for the children to get there.
After John Rumbarger became the purchaser of the David Heberling farm, in 1865, a Sunday School was opened in the old school house at the south side of the city.
It was related that in the whole neighborhood, no one was found capable of making an audible prayer. The people of the time were deeply religious, and a leader of a Sunday School must be able to pray. They searched the community, and finally discovered Mr. A. J. King, a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Luthersburg, who lived about three miles from the school house, who was interviewed, and agreed to take charge of the Sunday School. Mr. King could neither read nor write, but he was a fervent member of the church, and all he was asked to do was to do the praying. This Sunday School was organized and carried on in the summer time for several years.
The first church building was erected in 1874 or 1875 at the corner of East Long Avenue and Church Street. Reverend Dunlap, of Brookville, a minister of the Evangelical Church, held meetings, and out of those meetings came the church. This building was a one-story structure probably twenty feet wide by thirty feet long, set on posts for a foundation, the lower side of which was over two feet from the ground. It is related that in the summertime the sheep from the neighborhood, in the heat of the day, to avoid flies, gathered under the church, and these sheep in shaking their heads and bumping around to get rid of flies, bumped the floor of the church and greatly interfered with the services. This church acquired two lots, one on the east side of Church Street, upon which a parsonage was built, and one upon the west side, upon which the church stood.
This church was turned into a dwelling house, and thus remained for years after it was abandoned as a church.
Later the Evangelical Church acquired its present location on East Long Avenue. Mr. John Rumbarger donated two lots at the corner of West Long Avenue and Franklin Street, upon which a Methodist Episcopal Church was erected between 1870 and 1880. This building was destroyed by the fire of 1888. The First Presbyterian Church was organized on the 9th of May 1876 in a barn standing at the rear of the Rumbarger house. From that time on, various other religious denominations entered the city and erected their church buildings until, at this date, there are more than seventeen denominations represented within the city limits.