A Brief History of the Schuylkill Haven Church of the Nazarene
Although Schuylkill Haven Church of the Nazarene was not officially organized until July 1942, its story started much earlier than that. God had been working for many years prior in the life of one woman (Mildred Hoffman) to accomplish His will. In 1931 Mildred Hoffman began to suffer through a serious illness that nearly took her life. During that experience she received her call to ministry through a vision in which she saw the number “30” and was specifically directed to Schuylkill Haven.
At this time in history pastoral ministry was mostly reserved for men, but Mrs. Mildred Hoffman would not be deterred and over the next several years she pursued ministerial studies. Eventually she would become the first woman to be ordained as a Christian minister in Schuylkill County, PA.
In 1941 Adam Creswell (brother of Mildred) purchased the old Schuylkill County fairgrounds property, in Cressona, PA, and offered Mildred the use of one of the buildings. Earl Hoffman Sr. (Mildred’s husband) then modified that building and Mildred began holding church services in Schuylkill Haven approximately ten years after receiving her initial call to ministry. Eventually that property would be purchased by the government to be used for wartime production. The buildings were torn down and the wood was salvaged and eventually used by the Hoffmans in order to build the current church building (220 W Main St).
In late June of 1942 while Mildred was still holding services in Cressona, eleven ministers from the Church of the Nazarene visited the Hoffman family at their Gordon, PA home and presented the idea of having tent meetings in Schuylkill Haven. The Hoffmans agreed and a tent was erected in July 1942 at the Reider Shoe Factory (what is now St. Charles Street Apartments) and the vision that God had given to Mildred over ten years earlier was being fulfilled.
After a ten day meeting, the Schuylkill Haven Church of the Nazarene was officially organized on July 19, 1942. There were nineteen charter members including six children. Four nearby lots were purchased along W. Main St. from Austin Faust for the newly established church and on these lots the original church building was constructed. On Thanksgiving Day of 1942 the church began to use the new building. Later, in 1946, a parsonage was built adjacent to the church so the Hoffmans could live in Schuylkill Haven.
It was not until 1972 that the rest of Mildred’s original vision would be fulfilled. In that year (30 years after the church officially started), Hurricane Agnes flooded the church; this overwhelmed Mildred physically and her health quickly declined. Rev. Mildred Hoffman went to be with the Lord on Christmas Eve 1973 as her family sang carols and prayed around her. So her mission on earth was complete and part of the wonderful plan of God was fulfilled.
Looking back on these events decades later it is easy to see God’s miraculous and powerful hand at work in the very beginnings of Schuylkill Haven Church of the Nazarene. But God was not done working in this church. In January 1974, Rose Hoffman (daughter of Mildred), who had been serving as Associate Pastor, was called by the local church to be the Senior Pastor. Pastor Rose was truly a special minister and servant of Christ. She not only worked hard in the local church, but was also busy ministering within the community. The church, under Pastor Rose’s leadership, was active in the Council of Churches, Food Pantry, Soup Kitchen in Pottsville, and for several years had a prison ministry led by one of the members. Schuylkill Haven Church of the Nazarene continues to minister in many of these areas today because of Pastor Rose.
1984 would begin yet another significant and God ordained chapter in the church’s history. It was in this year that Pastor Robert Berry and his wife Pat (granddaughter of Rev. Mildred and niece of Pastor Rose) would join the ministry team at the church with Pastor Bob being called to be the Associate Pastor. This same year the church put on a new addition which includes offices and other multi-purpose ministry rooms. Pastor Bob remained Associate, until Pastor Rose’s death on January 15, 2010, at which time he was called to be the Senior Pastor. Pastor Bob is a bi-vocational pastor, working 30+ hours a week as an Estimator/Project Manager for a local construction contractor.
God has been actively working in and faithful to the people and leaders of this local church for over 75 years and so time does not permit to tell of all He has done in just one local church in three-quarters of a century. Below are a few specific highlights of the ministry of this church throughout its history.
If there were a scriptural theme for each pastor and their ministry it would be:
Rev. Mildred Hoffman
2 Corinthians 12: 9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Rev. Rose Hoffman
Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”
Rev. Robert Berry
Acts 17: 28, “For in Him we live and move and have our being.”