1858-1863, 1867-1873

Of the seven pastors of St. Paul's, Dr. Koplin will be longest and best remembered both for what he was and for what he did. He is remembered as one of the able ministers of the church, one whose whole life and energies were devoted to the cause of Christ. His fame looms large upon the horizon of events because he was a pioneer in an undeveloped field. Somehow the world loves to honor the memory of her pioneers, and Dr. Koplin is no exception to this rule of veneration. Other pastors may build with great show of success, but Dr. Koplin will ever be regarded as the Father of St. Paul's and the chief man in her History.

His first pastorate was in the Stoyestown, Pennsylvania, Charge, which lasted for two years. He came to Elk Lick as pastor of the Paradise Charge on December 5, 1858, and continued his work in this field until the fall of 1863. It was during the pastorate that he held preaching services in the D. Hay school-house, and then in the Mennonite Union, where the organization of a congregration was effected. It was at this time that the Wilhelms were admitted into the fellowship of the church, and the foundation for future work was laid. His pastorate was suddenly interrupted, however, by his acceptance, in the fall of 1863, of a commission to Defiance, Ohio. He did not remain long at Defiance, as he tells us in a letter that the work proved too arduous and the elimate, too malarial for him, so that he resigned his commission in the spring of 1867 to accept a call to the Paradise Charge which head left three years and four months before.

It was during his second pastorate that St. Paul's Church was erected; and it was during this pastorate that the attention of the Wilhelms was directed to our Institutions at Lancaster. For six years he continued his work, building the walls of Zion, encouraging the weak, comfirming the doubting and administering to the spiritual needs of a pioneer people.

In 1873, he left the Paradise Charge and for three years served Salem Reformed Church at Catasauqua, Pennsylvania. In April 1877, he became pastor of the church at Hellerstown, Pennsylvania, consisting of that place, Saucon and Williams Township Churches. This was a remarkable pastorate in that it extended over a period of forty years, lacking two months, and that he continued to serve these people until his death at the age of nearly 82 years. At the time of his death he was the fifth oldest pastor of the Reformed Church in point of service, having labored in the Church continuously for over sixty years.

Dr. Koplin filled many posts of honor and responsibility within the gift of the Church. He was very highly respected as a man of great courage, high ideals and unbounded industry. He, though far advanced in years, was up to the time of his death work and on the floors of Classis and Synod.

During his active pastorate he was honored by his Church with election to positions of high responsibility, which duties he discharged with the same fidelity that characterized his pastoral work. Thus he was an officer of Classis and of the District and the General Synods. Franklin and Marshall College conferred upon him the degree of A. M. and Heidelberg University made him a D. D., in 1885.

Dr. Koplin was in a full sense the father of the Phoebe Deaconess Home, Allentown, Pennsylvania. He advocated the establishment of such a home long before it became an actuality. He preached, talked and wrote on the subject until the seed that he sowed bore fruit and the present handsome home is the harvest. He was the first President of the Board of Trustees and served in that office until his death. In this capacity he was in Allentown for the last time and he addressed the three deaconess students who were advanced in their grades, the exercise taking the form of a commencement.

Dr. Koplin was descended from Mathias Koplin, who migrated from the Palatinate to America in 1728 and settled in Mifflin County. Dr. Koplin's parents were Abraham and Rachel Koplin. He was born July 7, 1835 in Summit County, Ohio, to which place his father had moved from Pennsylvania. He studied in Summit Academy and Heidelberg Academy, the latter at Tiffin, Ohio, and from which he was graduated in 1855. He then studied theology and was ordained May 20, 1856.

Dr. Koplin was married to Miss Harriet a Custer, of Stoyestown, January 9, 1857, and she still survives at the ripe age of 86 years and is enjoying good health.

There are five children, Mrs. Orma, widow of Rev. Silas F. Laury, of Saylorsburg: Emma B. widow of C. J. Gitt: Martha V., widow of Aaron Hostetter, of Hanover: Ida May, wife of W. H. Clark, of Plainfield, New Jersey, and Russell N. Koplin, Esq., of Hellertown, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Koplin was taken ill with pneumonia on February 22, 1917 and died on March 5th. Had he lived until July 7th he would have been 82 years of age. The funeral was held on March 8th, from his late residence at Hellerstown. Rev. George W. Richards, D. D., preached the sermon, taking as his text Romans 14:8.

Rev. Robert M. Kern, superintendent of the Deaconess Home at Allentown, in a very illuminating article in the Messenger, pays Dr. Koplin the following tribute:

"On February 21 in the afternoon the President of the Board, Rev. A. B. Koplin, D. D., delivered the address. He reviewed the work of the Deaconess, pointed out some of her graces and virtues and spoke words of encouragement and good counsel to the Deaconesses in training. Dr. Koplin, the first and only President of the Board of Trustees, is the founder of the Deaconess Home.

Dr. Koplin was better informed on the subject of the Deaconess than any other man in this section of the State, and was perhaps more thoroughly imbued than anyone else with the conviction that she has a tremendous sphere of usefulness, and that ultimately she will become an indispensable factor in the growing demands of the Church of Jesus Christ.

There wasn't anything that could in any way dampen his ardor. His zeal was an inspiration to everyone that came in contact with him. Difficult problems arise in the administration of the affairs of any institution, and when they did arise there was no mind that could cope with his in the proper adjustment of the same.

In addition to writing up the annual reports to the Synods and the Classes and performing the duties of President of Board of Trustees, he came up regularly every week and taught the Deaconesses, He was at this time teaching them Ethics. When we consider his age, his many duties in connection with his parish, comprising the three congregations, and the frequent trips he made to the Phobe Home, he was indeed remarkably active. Nothing was too much trouble, ----no excuses."


Published by
The Wilhelm Press
Meyersdale, Pennsylvania. 1919

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