In the mid 1770’s, over 200 years ago, a group of immigrants from Galloway, Scotland, left their homeland and located in the Town of Perth, County of Fulton, State of New York. These early settlers were the nucleus of what was to be known two centuries later as the Perth Bible Church. During the Revolutionary War, many had to flee to the Albany area for safety. After the war, they returned to their homes; and in due time, they established a ministry that was conducted, for the most part, by a prominent layman, Mr. Daniel McIntyre, in his home. Near to 1790, the first formal preaching services held were conducted by Rev. John McDonald of Albany.
Today’s beautiful sanctuary and lovely educational facilities bear no resemblance to the first church building which was completed in 1800. That early building was a barn-like structure with no plaster, loose boards for a floor, slabs with legs for pews, no pulpit, and no heating apparatus. Originally located on the site where the present brick edifice now stands, it was later moved directly across the road when the congregation discovered that they did not have secure title to the present property. Eventually, title was secured and that early structure was replaced in 1831 by the present building. A tribute to the grace of God, as well as to the craftsmanship of the builders of that day, is the fact that it still stands today in such excellent condition.
All churches have their problems, and the early congregation of Perth was no exception—but their problems were different. Around the turn of the century, from the 18th to the 19th, a number of the members of the church withdrew when the use of hymns and a choir were introduced in public worship services. Some years later, a similar procedure was to be followed when heat was introduced into the building. There were those who felt that a congregation warmed by the Holy Spirit should not be dependent upon external heating apparatus. Just as we look to the early congregation and commend it for its accomplishments, we must also learn from its mistakes and not allow our service for the Lord to be hindered as a result of insignificant differences.
In those early years of the 1800’s, Rev. James Mairs, of West Charlton, as well as a number of supply speakers from the Presbytery of the Washington Associate Reformed Church conducted services. Then on April 10, 1804, Rev. Robert Proudfit was ordained and installed as the first pastor. At that time, the first election of Elders and Trustees took place, as well as the first Communion service, held on September 20, 1804.
Early year pastors were:
Rev. Robert Proudfit 1804-1818
Rev. James Otterson 1821-1827
Rev. Malcolm N. McLaren 1827-1833
Rev. David Caw 1834-1845
Rev. John Graham 1845-1857
Rev. James L. Clark 1858-1872
Rev. Andrew Henry 1873-1889
Rev. John M. Adair 1890-1894
Rev. J. B. Story 1895-1904
Rev. D.M. McClellan 1905-1913
Rev. Robert McElroy 1914-1915
Rev. H.J. Kyle 1915-1918
Rev. F.C. Davidson (summers) 1919-1920
(Pastor from United Presbyterian Johnstown)
Rev. David P. Pressly 1930-1933
(Pastor from United Presbyterian Scotch Bush)
From 1921 to 1937, services were held only on a part-time basis, principally during the summer months and with various ministers supplying the pulpit.
During this period of inactivity which was marked by diminishing interest and attendance and no resident pastor for nearly 20 years, the once stately building fell into serious disrepair. Meetings were held sporadically for a time and then practically discontinued. In 1918 a cyclone causing considerable damage began a time of degeneration. The years after ruination set in as sheets of auditorium ceiling hung from above in shreds. Birds flew in and out of the broken windows while bats made their nests in the bell-less belfry. Weeds grew tall where once the saints had come to worship.
The condition of the building would have broken the hearts of those early self-sacrificing Christians of Scottish descent who had erected the building some 30 years before the Civil War. It was a building their prosperous and numerous grandchildren almost completely forsook.
Not all of the folks in town, however, were totally passive as to what was happening. There were three individuals, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Hickok and Mr. Charles Codding, Jr who stormed the door of a young Fulton County school missionary couple in a manner reminiscent of the cyclone some years earlier. Mr. and Mrs. Vernon Spurr, under the insistent pressure of these three praying and determined individuals, finally succumbed to that pressure and were persuaded to come to lead in the resurrection of a ministry.
Under their enthusiastic leadership, the modern history of the church began. The people “with a mind to work” set about to restore the building and make it usable once again. Plans to completely renovate the sanctuary under the able leadership of Raymond Frederick and Arnold Hickok were developed. The entire auditorium was cleared, the balcony, platform, and seats were taken down and removed, and then the interior was completely remodeled.
Vernon Spurr’s ministry, however, was not confined to the church alone. Besides his pastoral duties here, he was also ministering in 55 rural schools throughout the county, developing a youth camp, conducting rallies, and pastoring the Log Cabin Church. To relieve him of some of the load, Rev. and Mrs. William Knorr of Maryland, NY were called to assist in the work. Soon their willing and capable hands were able to carry much of the load. Sensing it was time to move on, Pastor Spurr tendered his resignation with the suggestion that the church extend a call to Brother Knorr to become pastor. The church complied.
It was during Pastor Knorr’s ministry that the digging of a basement underneath the sanctuary took place. This very difficult excavation project took two years to complete as tons of hardpan was removed with tools and instruments whose resemblance to present day machinery was only coincidental. Also included in that project was the placing of a shed-type structure at the rear of the building to provide access to the basement.
Pastor Knorr served until April of 1948 when the Lord called him to another field. He was succeeded by Rev. Gilbert C. Maine, who began his ministry April, 1949. Pastor Maine and his family moved into a brand new parsonage. During his ministry here in Perth, a radio program was first broadcast over WENT (Gloversville) and then WCSS (Amsterdam), presenting the claims of Jesus Christ to the surrounding area. It was during Pastor Maine’s days with us that bathroom facilities were placed inside the building for the first time.
In April of 1954, after suffering from stomach ulcers for more than a year, Pastor Maine presented his resignation as pastor effective on June 14 - a resignation which was accepted by the church regretfully. It was during Pastor Maine’s ministry that Mr. James Marshall approached the pastor and asked his advice concerning a country-wide youth ministry. This discussion led to the formative of “Youth Time,” an organization which “Dad” Marshall headed effectively for many years.
For the next three years (1954-1957), Rev. Robert Worthington served as pastor. Remembered as an excellent visitor, Pastor Worthington was also an accomplished stone mason. While here, he did much to improve the basement walls which had never really been finished when the excavation work had taken place. Because of an accumulation of various problems, the Worthingtons resigned in 1957, seeking God’s direction for the future.
Rev. Harold Billings accepted a call to serve as pastor of this congregation in September of 1957 and served here for seven years before accepting a call to another pastorate in October, 1964. It was during Pastor Billings’ ministry that the church received its formal release from the United Presbyterian denomination, seeking that release on the grounds of doctrinal apostasy. That the decision to do so was a correct one has been born out by future developments in the Presbyterian Church, including the very weak, compromising confession of 1967. Of the many churches who had petitioned the General Assembly for release, the Perth congregation was the only one whose petition was granted. This, of course, was a minor miracle to say the least. At that time, $70,000 worth of property became the property of the local congregation, rather than the national headquarters, for the legal fee of $1. The permission of the General Assembly was granted with the realization that the church had been reopened years earlier by the congregation at no cost to the denomination but at a great cost and considerable sacrifice to the members of the church.
One of the conditions of the withdrawal was that the name “United Presbyterian” be dropped. Under the guidance of Pastor Billings, the name “Perth Bible Church” was chosen, and a constitution was drawn up. Later in his ministry came the purchase of the organ and then the paneling of the basement along with the installation of three Sunday school rooms.
In 1965, Rev. Charles F. Scheide began his 15 year ministry at Perth Bible Church. Since that time there has been a strong emphasis on Bible teaching, coupled with a strong missionary outreach, which has resulted in very solid growth. The membership stood at 38, Sunday school average attendance was 86, there were only 9 Sunday school teachers and youth workers, the total budget was $10,005 including $1,880 for missions. By 1972, the statistics had gone up: membership was 166, Sunday school attendance was 200, there were 34 Sunday school teachers and youth workers, and the total budget was $57,304, including $21,000 for missions.
Under Pastor Scheide’s leadership, every aspect of ministry was expanded: Sunday school ministry covered all ages from nursery to adult; children’s services provided graded worship for pre-schoolers through sixth grade; the youth ministry included first through twelfth grades, with programs developed for 1-3, 4-6, 7-9, 10-12. Missionary involvement and financial support were increased dramatically. To assist Pastor Scheide in his leadership, additional staff was put in place:
1972 - first full-time secretary – Mrs. Linda Gruet
1973 - youth pastor – Frank P. Geremia
1975 - church custodian – Richard B. Lane
1975 – outreach &administrative pastor – Robert C. Calhoun
1977 – music pastor – Robert F. Fischer
While programs were expanded to better meet the spiritual needs of the community and staff was placed to lead these programs, facilities, too, were expanded:
1969 – a one-story addition including, classrooms, restrooms, and fellowship hall
1972 – classrooms, offices, nurseries
1974 – gym and fellowship hall, addition to 1944 parsonage, and missionary duplex
1975 – auditorium
1976 – bus garage
1977 – additional parsonage
1979 – apartment building
Most of the work in the facility expansion was accomplished by volunteer labor from the membership of Perth Bible Church, men and women alike.
In September of 1978, Perth Bible Christian Academy began with approximately 100 students under the leadership of Ralph J. McMechen and provided education for kindergarten through grade 12. Of course, faculty and administrative personnel were hired as was another custodian, A. Edwin Leonard.
In Pastor Scheide’s final year at PBC, 1979, a new outreach ministry began to the Spanish population of our region under the leadership of Mario Tarasiuk.
Upon Pastor Scheide’s resignation, Rev. Robert C. Calhoun became the acting senior pastor while the church began a search for a new pastor, which resulted in the call of Dr. Clinton S. Foraker whose ministry began in July of 1980. During this same period of time, the church called M. Dean Wood to serve as visitation pastor. In order to provide on-campus housing for the additional staff, a new parsonage was built for the senior pastor. Pastor Foraker’s ministry, although relatively short (ended in September of 1981), continued a strong Bible and teaching ministry which resulted in salvation decisions, baptisms, and additions to the church.
Once again, the church began a search for a senior pastor with Pastor Calhoun the acting senior pastor, assisted largely by Pastor Wood. During this nearly two year period, the church continued to experience people being saved, baptized and added to the church. To facilitate the growth of church ministry, the second floor gym was converted to classroom space with a new and enlarged gymnasium built by the congregation of the church, as in the tradition of previous building programs.
Rev. H. LeRoy Eldridge was called as senior pastor, beginning his ministry in July of 1983. He faithfully served the Lord and the people of PBC for nearly eight years, resigning on February 27, 1991. Under Pastor Eldridge’s leadership, the church continued to experience God’s blessing in numerous ways. Perhaps the most notable was the beginning of Life Saver Ministries, a state-wide organized ministry purposed to afford expectant mothers in a crisis pregnancy situation an alternative to abortion and an opportunity to begin a new life in Christ. Following the resignation of Frank Geremia and Robert Fischer, Rev. C.H. “Chip” Handrich was called as pastor of youth and music and served until resigning in November of 1990.
Pastor Calhoun again became the acting senior pastor, providing leadership with Pastor Wood while the church resumed a search for a senior pastor which culminated in a call to Stanley R. Ponz, D. Min., who began his ministry on September 16, 1991.
Pastor Ponz’ ministry began with an evident love for the Lord, the Scriptures, and the people of PBC. Through very clear teaching and personal example, he has lead the church to its greatest level of commitment to prayer and Bible study, resulting in deepened relationships with and worship of God. In positively influenced, commitment to worldwide missions has been strengthened, a daily radio broadcast was initiated and continues, and the youth ministry has been revitalized. Rev. Thaddeus Dragula accepted a call to be youth pastor and faithfully served our teens from September 1992 through June of 1993, resigning to pursue a senior pastorate. Pastor Jeffrey Keady joined the staff in February of 1994.
In 1997 Stanley R. Ponz finished his ministry at PBC and the intern pastor, Bob Calhoun was called to be the senior Pastor in 1998 after a second vote. At this time the church made many changes. The auditorium was restructured and the pews were changed out for chairs. The style of how church was done was challenged. Many new people were reached with the gospel of Christ. In August of 2002 Pastor Calhoun, after 27 years of faithful ministry at PBC moved on and the church went through a 3 year time period with no senior pastor.
At the end of 2004 the church hired Dr. Roger Ellison as an interim pastor. Pastor Ellison hired Mark Appell in 2005 as his assistant. Rev. Todd Leupold accepted the call from Perth Bible Church in March 2006, and hired Pastor Mark Appell as his assistant, as well as Dr. Ellison.
Under Pastor Todd’s leadership the school transitioned the style of how it operated, and began to grow again. Under Pastor Todd’s leadership there was a focus on outreach to our community, which continued till 2010.
In 2011 Rev. Mark Appell accepted the call to be the senior pastor and hired Dr. Ellison as the teaching pastor. From 2012 to 2015, Rev. Harry Edenhofer accepted the call of the Lord and became the Pastor of Spiritual and Educational Ministries, including the job of principal. In 2014 Rev. Craig Jones was called to be an assistant pastor overseeing our Spanish ministry.
Pastor Jordan Davoll was called to be an assistant Pastor in June of 2015 and given the task overseeing outreach ministries in the church.
Through the years, Perth Bible Church has been a church whose doors were wide enough to welcome the needy, narrow enough to shut out evil and strife, strong enough to hold back the enemy, and simple enough to let little children come to the Savior. It is our prayer that Perth Bible Church will become a door to the blessings of God and a gateway to Heaven. With God’s help, we intend to reach our world today… as we continue to build for tomorrow in lives and facilities.
History of PBCA
Principles of PBCA
Ralph McMechan – 1978 to 1981 - Individualized instruction.
Traditional Instruction (1980 to 2007)
Thomas C. Gilbert - 1981 to 1987
Frederick Spear – 1988-1989
Shirley Eldridge (Director of Ed.) - 1989-1991
Frederick Spear - 1992 to 1997
Deb Helickson – 1997 to 2002
Stephanie Singley - 2003 to 2004
Bonnie Howard - 2004 to 2007
Individualized Instruction (2007 to present)
Martin Stockwell – 2007 to 2008
Mark Appell - 2008-2009
Matt Thornton - 2009 to 2010
Brian Kipp – 2010 to 2011
Mark Appell - 2011 - 2012
Rev. Harry Edenhofer - 2012 to 2015
Craig Jones – 2015 to 2019
Breck Appell - 2019 to Present
Additionally, Mr. Fred Spier, who taught math at PBCA for eight years, became the principal of PBCA in February of 1992. PBCA In 1997 Fred Spier resigned due to a disability and became a math teacher until he could no longer physically work.