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Historic Great Conewago Presbyterian Church has been in continuous use since 1787, when it was built by members of the congregation and pastor, Rev. Joseph M. Henderson, from stones harvested on the church property. It was named Henderson Meeting House. Although the organizing congregation met from about 1740, it had no center for worship until 1747, when they built a log cabin near the gate of the church cemetery. It served as their sanctuary for the next forty years, until construction of the present sanctuary.
In 1849, the layout of the sanctuary was modified: the pulpit was moved from the north wall to the west wall; the pews were altered and a choir loft was installed, providing space beneath for a foyer. The three original entrances were closed up with matching stone, and the present entrance in the east wall was opened onto the new foyer.
During the Battle of Gettysburg, the church served as a confederate infirmary and binding station.
In 1870, general repairs included new pulpit furniture, carpeting, new pews and oil lamps. Two of the six original oil chandeliers are still used, although they have been electrified along with four replicas. In 1887, an adjacent structure, now known as the Chapel, was built using bricks salvaged from a nearby building once used as an academy for young boys. Eventually a kitchen and rest rooms were added to the rear of the Chapel.
The pre-Revolutionary cemetery adjacent to the church was incorporated in the 1940s as Great Conewago Presbyterian Cemetery Association which continues to maintain the grounds and graves. Among numerous old grave sites are those of numerous Revolutionary War dead and 9 Civil War veterans.
Tours of our historic cemetery may be arranged in advanced.
A complete restoration of the church was accomplished in 2002 when roof trusses were reinforced, pews restored, new floor joist installed and the original flooring rehabilitated. An entrance for the physically disabled was opened and handicapped parkiing was provided. The parking lot was enlarged; the choir loft was rebuilt; a restroom was constructed. A public address system and central air conditioning were installed. On the west wall of the sanctuary, above the pulpit, hangs an 8 feet long Celtic cross crafted by an elder,Thomas Elledge, from timbers salvaged when the old loft was dismantled.
With the aid of a substantial anonymous gift, as seed money, an education/community building was completed in 2008. The building which is annexed to the Chapel, houses classrooms, a large community room, administrative offices, restrooms, and a modern kitchen. Persons interested in renting the community room for wedding receptions, family reunions, birthday parties, showers, etc. may contact Judy Riley at (717) 334-6087 for information.
Great Conewago Presbyterian Church is listed on the National Register of Historical Places.