In 1871, fresh from the Theological Seminary at
Philadelphia, William Rickert came to serve the congregation for
fourteen years, a pastorate longer than that of any one holding this
position. Many will remember the young bride he brought soon after; for
she won the hearts of all by her gentle refinement, Christian spirit and
benevolent work. Weakened in numbers by the organization of St. Paul’s
and the consequent debt incurred because as a result setting up
housekeeping for herself, the task that awaited the young pastor was
bristling with difficulties. Nevertheless success crowned his early
He was remembered for his personal interest in the lives of his
parishioners. He enriched the service of the church by introducing
the pastoral robes and stressed the attitude of reverence on the
part of the congregation when in the Lord’s House.
Under his guidance the Sunday School grew and a Young People’s
Society proved a source of beneficial influence. A church quartet
debt of $2,600 was reduced to $800.
In the year 1875, discussions were undertaken on the possibility of
reuniting with St. Paul's. A committee was appointed to meet a
similar committee from St. Paul’s, which seems to be at this time
likewise sailing in rough waters, to draw up articles of agreement by
which the mother and daughter might again become one.
On Sunday morning, August 8, 1875, a meeting was held. The basis of
agreement was read. Many, among them those to whom the congregation
looked for counsel, urgently favored the union; but the minority, under
the leadership of Dr. William H. H. Miller, secured fourteen votes, and
as only two are necessary for a continuance of the church, the union was
rejected and St. Mark’s—saved!
The salary of the pastor was nothing to induce a man to enter the
work of the church—$800.00 a year plus his parsonage and food
donations from the congregation. A humorous note from the
recollections of a parishioner, Mr. Shempp, says that an outstanding
trait of Rev. Rickert was his pastoral calls. In making these, he
arranged to reach a certain place of excellent culinary reputation
at just about meal time. He recalls that on Mondays the pastor
usually visited his home because his mother’s menus called for
Sauer-Kraut and Dumplins which was a special favorite of the pastor.
After the visit, he usually returned home with a plenteous supply of
fruits or vegetables, the gifts of his parishioners.
Somewhat brighter days followed. During them Rev. Rickert’s resignation,
after being twice offered the congregation, was accepted on January 15,
1886. Resolutions of regret were drawn up by the Church Council and
tendered to the retiring pastor with thanks for his long and faithful
ministrations. He subsequently left Williamsport to enter the Drug
business in Philadelphia.
Rev. Rickert returned to Williamsport to participate in the
ceremonies on the occasion of the 50th anniversary.