Dr. J.M.L. Lyerly
This drawing by the late Mike Peele, member of Lyerly Church, was done in 1991 and adopted for the 100th Anniversary celebration. It depicts the three buildings that have been a part of the church’s history.
The center building was the first meeting house. Since there are no photos of the original building, the artist relied on older men in the congregation who remembered what it looked like. The building to the left shows the two-story addition of 1924. The building on the right is the current one, dedicated in 1954.
From these doors, God’s people have entered to worship and departed to serve.
The History of Lyerly Evangelical Church begins in 1891, when the Revs. C.B. Heller and Dr. J.M.L. Lyerly organized Bethany Reformed Church with 24 charter members. Four acres of land were donated and a one-room building was dedicated in 1806. In 1924 four classrooms and a bell tower were added.
Over the years the church was a part of several groupings which constituted pastoral charges. These included (at one time or another) St. Luke’s, Mt. Hope, Ursinus, and Shiloh.
In 1934 the church’s name was changed to Bethany Evangelical and Reformed Church, reflecting a denomina-tional change. In 1954 a new church building was dedicated and the name changed to Lyerly Memorial, honoring Dr. J.M.L. Lyerly and family.
The name became Lyerly Memorial United Church of Christ after another denominational merger.
In 2005, the congregation voted to withdraw from the United Church of Christ, and the name was changed to Lyerly Evangelical Church. Since 2005, the church has not been affiliated with any denomination, choosing instead to look to God’s Word as the authority on church organization.
The following sons of the congregation have become ministers: Henderson L.V. Shinn, William C. Lyerly, Jacob Nevin Lyerly, Tom Ross Safrit, Charles Donald Lyerly, and Paul Lee Pickler.
Dr. Lyerly's footprints were all over the little community of “Crescent.”
In 1896, he began Crescent Academy and Business College, a private school which would educate over 2,000 students.
In 1898, he opened the Crescent Post Office and served as postmaster.
In 1906, he chartered Nazareth Orphans’ Home a quarter mile from the church. Although the school and post office were closed years ago, Nazareth Child and Family Connection (name change) still has residential care for over 50 youth.
For many years, the children of Nazareth worshipped at Lyerly Church..