The present day Reading Church of the Brethren got its start as pioneers moved into the new state of Ohio in1803 into the territory known as Columbiana County which was established the same year with 543 settlers. Forty-three years later, Columbiana Country was divided and formed into five counties. The name Reading came from the little village which grew as more settlers came. Located on the Old Thomas Road which followed an old Indian trail north of Winona, through North Georgetown, Homeworth, Freeburg, and Louisville, the German Baptists built the Reading Church just outside the village of Reading.
Many of members of the present church can trace their lineage back to those early settlers who settled in the Knox Township as well as the adjoining townships of West and Butler. Many were farmers of Pennsylvania Dutch descent. These plain, simple folks banded together as early as 1810 to hold church services in their homes. The first preachers were circuit riders from Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia who made their rounds visiting the German Baptists. At some time between 1820 and 1825, this Sandy congregation was one of the earliest in what would become our Northeastern Ohio District. Four congregations comprised the Sandy District: Reading, Freeburg, Science Hill and Liberty. Communions attracted hundreds of people, including members and spectators alike.
Reading Church, a forty-foot square building, was built in 1860. Then, in 1878, a fifty by forty foot addition was added. The basement was dug out in the 1940’s or 50’s. The pulpit was moved in the sanctuary from the north to the south to the east to the west and back several times. Dedicated in 1940, the mural on the front wall which depicts the 23rd Psalm was painted by Rev. Medford D. Neher, who painted murals in many churches.
The doors on the front of the building were used until 1960 when a new entrance was added on the east side of the church; however, the old doors remain and remind us of our early traditions. The church remained until the addition of a large fellowship hall in 2012 along with much remodeling.
As the years passed, changes came about. The amount of ribbons and flowers a woman could put on her bonnet was one of the reasons that the Progressives left to have their own church in North Georgetown. Sunday school started with ten classes in 1896. One minister received the nickname “Stump Sitter Preacher” because he thought Sunday school would ruin the church and chose to sit on a stump in the yard during that time.
The old Council minutes told of changes and also how these members followed the older traditions of taking care of the people. If someone needed money, another would come to his aid. If food was needed, it was given. The congregation still continue that characteristic of the German Baptists.
Present day congregants come from the surrounding area and have diverse interests and perspectives. The church is now a member of the Northern Ohio District. The church enjoys a healthy relationship with the district and our camp Inspiration Hills. The church also provides support to denomination, Manchester University and Bethany Seminary as well as local schools and ministries. Vacation Bible School is shared with four other churches in the area. The church also alternates serving Easter breakfast with a local Presbyterian Church.