Historic Mt. Harmony United Methodist Church, which sat about 10 yards off PA Route 160 in the community of Wellersburg, was hit by tractor-trailer for the fifth time in six years on Nov. 19, 2018. No one was injured in the early morning crash.
Mount Harmony UMC, a 168-year-old white-frame structure, was condemned after a similar incident in April 2017, and the congregation was awaiting a demolition permit. They have been worshipping elsewhere and hoping to rebuild on the same property, but farther back from the roadway.
Associate Pastor Ethel Stevanus told WJAC TV that they hoped to salvage the stained glass and other items to use in a new structure. The latest crash, however, knocked the off its foundation and into a storage trailer.
“It was very upsetting. We knew it was coming down,” she said. “But to see it completely down is sad. We wanted to save some of the windows and stained glass. We were going to make some crosses out of them. We also kept them in so there wasn’t more moisture in that building. That truck . . . we couldn’t save any of them. The trailer that was beside the church that stored the piano was tilted sideways. They had to move the trailer. When they did that, the back of the church’s roof fell down. There are no windows we could save.”
Wellersburg is located on a curve near the bottom of the steep winding road leading from the Pennsylvania summit of Big Savage Mountain into western Maryland. It is frequently used by trucks hauling heavy loads, possibly to avoid high tolls on the PA Turnpike and a Maryland State Police weigh station on I-68, police said.
Mount Harmony UMC is part of the Hyndman Four-Point Harmony Charge with the Rev. Kenneth Haines as senior pastor. The other congregations are Palo Alto UMC, First Ave. UMC in Hyndman, and Cooks Mill UMC.