The Stroudsburg Wesleyan Church traces its roots back to tent meetings held at the present sight of the Armory Building in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania in 1915. With a sincere desire to spread scriptural holiness in Monroe County, the Reverend R.O. Parry, who was in charge of the Arlington Heights Interdenominaltional Church (now the Methodist Church), secured the services of the Reverend John L. Sutton as an evangelist. Rev. Parry also held a revival for the Beakleyville Baptist Church where many were converted and later baptized in Sambo Creek which flowed near the church. These tent meetings were held from February through July of 1915.
During August of 1915, a tent meeting was held across the inter-borough bridge on lower Main Street. This meeting as well as the others was filled with lively singing, sound gospel preaching and the sweet presence of the Holy Spirit. The attendance was good and the response to the gospel message was very gratifying. Special singing was rendered by local talent including Mr. and Mrs. William Goucher. As the tent meeting came to a close, many people who attended expressed a desire to organize a new church.
Our church was organized on August 14, 1915. Members of The Stroudsburg Pilgrim Holiness Church immediately began worshiping in Stauffer’s Hall, just across the street from the large tent. The newly organized church began growing and during the first year, twenty-four (24) new members were received into fellowship bringing the total membership to thirty-four (34) as reported to the District Conference in 1916. The first conference of Penn-Jersey District was held in 1914 in Milton, moved to Stroudsburg in 1916, and once again in Milton in 1917.
the church continued to grow with many revivals, missionary conventions, youth revivals and special meetings held throughout the years with results that only eternity will reveal.
In 1919, under the ministry of the Reverend W.J. Crinder, a frame Church building was erected at 208 Main Street, Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. In 1933, under the pastorate of the Reverend D.F. Price, the building was remodeled, enlarged and Sunday School rooms added in the basement.
The Reverend Raymond Simpson led the congregation in launching a building program in 1946 when a brick edifice was built. The construction was completed and dedicated during the pastorate of Reverend William Whitmore.
To care for the growing Sunday School, a commodious Youth Auditorium with additional Sunday School rooms was added under the leadership of the Reverend Edward Houston. The church and parsonage suffered substantial loss at the time of the flood of 1955. Under the faithful labors of the pastor, congregation and many friends, the buildings were restored, carpeting and new pews purchased, enhancing the beauty of the sanctuary.
Rev. Houston broadcast his church services on Radio WVPO in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania from 1952 to 1953. In 1953 the Men’s Sunday School class started the Pleasant Valley Manor nursing home in Snydersville, Pennsylvania to minister to its residents. The Nursing Home Ministry continues today and is looking for more individuals and families willing to devlte one hour on the first Sunday of each month to serving God and our community through this ministry. In 1956, Rev. Houston also organized a Branch Sunday School at the Shaffers Schoolhouse. This progressive Sunday School was led by Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Marvin. After pastoring at other Wesleyan Churches, he retired in 1983. He also served as president of Camp Wesley from 1992 to 1997.
According to Keith Drury, when his father Rev. L.W. Drury was being interviewed in 1957, “they asked, ‘Do you own a TV?'” He said he did. They mentioned that none of the board members at this church owned a TV – with obvious implications. Beginning his strategic retreat, his dad said, “We carefully monitor what we watch.” They elected him as pastor anyway. After winning the battle with the board he withdrew his forces from the war: he sold the TV before loading their moving van, using the money to purchase a “HiFi” record player which turned out to be a great gain for Keith since he spent his high school years without a TV and thus spent all his time reading books, which may have eventually led him to becoming a writer.
Rev. L.W Drury faithfully served as Lead Pastor of our Church from 1957 through 1975 when he retired from full time ministry. During his early years, a Boy Scout troop was sponsored by our Church from 1958 through 1961. Because of his foresight, lots were purchased at our current Fifth Street, Stroudsburg location in 1959. A new parsonage was built and occupied in 1962. During 1969, a new Church building was erected with the first service being held on May 17,1979 in our current sanctuary. Our Church also had a bus ministry from 1974 through 1975. The Lord richly blessed the Church during his leadership and on September 10, 1978 the initial mortgage was paid off 12 years early causing the congregation to rejoice and praise the Lord!
Under the leadership of Rev. John Eiktorchik who served as Lead Pastor from 1975 through 1982, the Church purchased the remaining property at our current site made available by Mr. Cramer. Plans were draqn and much work went into looking to the future to erect an activity building. Since the property originally was planned for development, we had to secure a quiet title for closing and the alley running behind the Church. During this process, the Fifth Street Misson became available. Feeling the Lord leading in this direction, we were able to add a much needed Fellowship Hall to be used for classes, youth and missionary meetings as well as fellowship. This annex building, has been named in honor of Reverend L.W. Drury, and on May 14, 1983 this building was dedicated.
Rev. Samuel Butler served as Lead Pastor from 1982 through 1993. Reconstruction of the platform in the Church was undertaken under his leadership. In 1982, the Rev. Daniel Baugess was added to the pastoral staff as Assistant Pastor to the Lead Pastor. In 1984, the Rev. Robert Green was called to give more attention and added leadership to our children and youth serving 2 years. To further reach all the needs and care for the community, a million dollar building was added to the existing Church property to be used in outreach ministries. Since Jesus Christ is our example and our Church has always been interested in the lives and souls of those in the community, Pastor Eric Ball has been given a call in 1990 to work with the youth and to oversee and plan the use of our new facilities.
Rev. Dan Hall served as Lead Pastor from 1993 through 1996. Under his leadership vision for the future, The Creative Learning Center (CLC) was started in 1995. This ministry is still thriving today.
From 1996 through 2003, several of the pastorates were only 1 or 2 years, which reflected the turmoil that existed. The Lead Pastors were Rev. Stephen Nelson 199601998; Rev. Dennis Brown 1998-2000; Rev. Mike Saunders 2000-2002 and Rev. James Litzel 2002-2003. This period in our Church history is viewed as a very turbulent time.
The population of Monroe County, Pennsylvania has increased by over 70% since 1990 making it one of the fastest growing counties in the State of Pennsylvania and the nation. Our Church is located near interstate 80, which made it popular for people to commute to New York City. The large part of this population increase is a large continued migration to the county by former New York City residents.
At this time in our Church the need for addiction recovery was increasing. Since God knows exactly what is needed, He sent a former addict originally from Philadelphia who said,” Early on in my call I had this overwhelming passion to pastor a church that was a safe haven for addicts to access the grace of Christ for recovery.” At 13 he began drinking, at 16 he dropped out of high school, and two years later he was stabbed to near death. He said, “That’s when Christ and I found each other…God began to rebuild the ruined walls of my broken life.” After graduating with at Bachelor of Arts in Religion Degree at Houghton College and a Masters in Divinity degree from Asbury Theological Seminary, the Rev. Lenny Luchetti began serving as Lead Pastor in 2003 through 2010.
The following is from Pastor Lenny’s Blog posted September 16, 2013:
“Before our boxes were unpacked, I began preaching on texts like Luke 4 where Jesus, with some help from Isaiah , describes his mission as one that will bring liberating good news to the poor, marginalized, and captive. So, I assumed that if this mission was good enough for the church. In time, we invited groups like Narcotics Anonymous and Gambler’s Anonymous to use our building free of charge. We chose to pay electric bills in the winter for families in addiction with no strings attached. We even started a Celebrate Recovery program for people with “hurts, habits, and hang-ups.” The perfect leader surfaced to run this ministry. He and his wife met in rehab during their fight against cocaine. He needed a job upon parole from prison and the church took him in.
In time, addicts began to trickle into the life of the church. Some of the longtime attendees of the church were not as excited as I was for us to become a recovery church. Some left the church; others decreased or ceased their financial support. Finances were tight, conflict ensued, and I was ready to quit. Although we were helping a few people, the resistance of the church coupled with my own fear of holy risk-taking prevented the church from really putting a dent in the problem of addiction that was devouring our community.
I took a sabbatical. Asbury invited me to participate in the residential Beeson Pastors D.Min. program. During that year at Asbury, we enjoyed a trip to Houston to explore churches that were diverse in style and size. One of those churches happened to be Mercy Street, a church built on and driven by a vision of recovery from addiction. Unlike the church I visited in San Francisco, this church is Houston was partnering with Christ to raise people from the dead. I cried throughout the service as God persistently whispered into the ears of my heart “Stay faithful to what I have called you to do and I will use your church to set captive addicts free.”
In time the church I pastored did become the kind of church I always dreamed of serving. we became a church where people would rather show up high or drunk than stay home and sober up until they could fit into their “I’ve got it all together” mask. This make for some interesting corporate worship experiences, but it was well worth it. If you visit this church on any given Sunday, you will smell alcohol, see track marks, and feel the nervous leg-shaking and nail biting of a person deciding if she wants to stay clean or get high after church. Yep, this is my dream church!”
Under Pastor Lenny’s leadership, many short-term mission teams were sent to minister to the needs of others. In 2006, a team was sent to Hephzibah Children’s Home and another team was sent to Gulfport Mississippi for Hurricane Katrina Relief. In 2007, a team was sent to Brazil to work with the full-time missionary already there. The team in Brazil went wherever help was needed. They worshiped at a Wesleyan Church in the rain forest in a little village called Tiririca and helped with Sunday School, visited orphanages, enjoyed exploring caves and waterfalls.
Local outreach that commenced under Pastor Lenny’s leadership includes the Helping Hands Food Pantry starting in 2007 and Family Promise in 2008 and both remain thriving ministries in our Church. The food pantry distributes groceries and provides a meal and is available on the first and third Friday of the month; Food Pantry is committed to helping low-income families through a nationwide network to achieve lasting independence; Celebrate Recovery is a Christ-centered, 12 step program based on the 8 principles in the Beatitudes to help us with our hurts, habits or hang-ups.
Other pastors serving under Pastor Lenny’s leadership include the Rev. Timothy Gilbertson as Assistant Pastor from 2004-2007; The Rev. Jason Argo as Family Life Pastor from 2007-2010; Pastor Dana Antal as Outreach Pastor; Pastor Lynda Keefer as Prayer and Care Pastor; and Pastor Debbie Bond as Growth Groups Pastor. Average worship attendance during the year ending April 30, 2010 was 430 people, which was the final year under Pastor Lenny’s leadership. Dr. Lenny Luchetti presently serves as Associate Professor of Proclamation and Christian Ministries at Wesleyan Seminary of Indiana Wesleyan University. He is responsible for the development and teaching of the preaching courses the seminary offers. He is author of Preaching Essentials: A practical Guide (May 2012), which has been honored by Outreach Magazine and Preaching Magazine as one of the best books on preaching in 2012-2013. Lenny has been married to Amy, his partner in life and ministry, since June 13, 1998. They enjoy life and laugh often with their children, Zach, Lia, and Sam.
From 2011 through the present, the Rev. Dana Antal and the Rev. Lynda Keefer have been serving as Co-Lead Pastors. They have continued all of the ongoing ministries in place at the beginning of the appointment including: Children’s Ministries, Youth Ministries, Adult Ministries, Growth Group Ministries, Nursing Home Ministry, Prayer Shawl Ministry, The Creative Learning Center Preschool, Helping Hands Food Pantry, Celebrate Recovery, Hosting Gamblers Anonymous, Hosting Narcotics Annonymous.
Local outreach and Support Groups added suring their pastorate include: Grief Share Ministry, Financial Peace University Ministry, The Clothing Closet Ministry. In 2013 our church organized a Homeless Task Force and in 2014 we opened an 18-bed homeless shelter operating daily from 10 pm to 6 am in the church gymnasium from November to March.
Our Missions under the leadership of Pastors Dana and Lynda are as follows: in 2012 we joined the battle against human trafficking. In 2013 we organized Anti-Human Trafficking Conference on June 22, 2013; in 2013, we partnered with a local church body in Haitiso that together we can minister in their community and they can minister in ours; in 2013 we supported Sarah Fernald who went to work with the Nune people. She left on March 1, 2013 for a 2 year assignment.
Annual Church events include:
Men’s Annual Retreat; Couples Valentines Banquet; Christian Life Ministry Conference; Easter Egg Hunt; Penn-Jersey Wesleyan Camps; Vacation Bible School; World Vision 30 Hour Famine; Softball Benefit; Hope in the Poconos; Trunk or Treat; Christmas Around the World; Operation Christmas Child.
In 2013, we made a strategic move by replacing our pews with chairs to enable us to utilize the sanctuary for multiple purposes.
We are in the process of planting a church in Sussex, New Jersey. This is a planned reopening of a Wesleyan Church.