History on the Hill...
The history of St. Joseph's goes back 277 years to 1731, when John Casper Stoever began holding services in the Oley area. In 1741, land was purchased for a church building, school, and cemetery. It wasn't until 1747 that the first church of logs was built on a site several hundred feet north of where the present St. John-Hill United Church of Christ is located. It continued as a Lutheran congregation for over fifty years. In 1785, the Lutherans invited the former German Reformed Congregation to become a partner in the use of its facilities.
The log church served until 1786, when the second church was built of stone. By 1854, the stone church had served its purpose, so a third building was constructed. However, it wasn't until 1886 that the steeple was added to the building. Electricity was installed in 1921. In 1953, the church was remodeled and a parish education building was added (this building, located one-half mile north of our present church, continues to be the home of St. John-Hill United Church of Christ). For more than a quarter century, the two "Hill" Church congregations , St. Joseph's Lutheran and St. John's UCC, discussed separating the relationship which had been consummated in 1786. But it wasn't until January 11, 1981 that the Union relationship was dissolved. The agreement was that the United Church of Christ would remain in the old building and would pay the Lutheran congregation $104,416 as its share of equity for moving to the new location.
In 1979, St. Joseph's congregation purchased a four-acre site on which our present facility is located. The groundbreaking for the building in which we now worship took place on May 23, 1982. We had "leave-taking" from our former church building on the Sunday before Christmas, December 19, 1982. That service, the Christmas Eve service, and the service on the following Sunday were held in the incomplete sanctuary. From January 2 to March 16, 1983, church worship was held in the Fellowship Hall so more work could be completed in the sanctuary. Because of increasing church attendance, our congregation then moved into the new building for worship, even though the sanctuary was still unfinished.
The dedication of our present church building took place on April 24, 1983, and even with pouring rain, the church (including the narthex, the lounge, and the hallway all the way to the front doors) was filled to capacity.