A Brief History Of Peniel . . . 

In 1971, Marion Spellman developed a vision for a program designed to help the hurting people of society. Her concern grew as she witnessed an increase in broken homes, community deterioration, crime and incarceration. She observed that the bulk of these problems were drug and alcohol related. Growing up she witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of substance abuse from her own brother, and the pain it caused her mother and herself. Dr. Spellman vowed to start a program with the desire to prevent other families from enduring the same pain that her family had.

Dr. Spellman began her ministry working with incarcerated ladies in the Allegheny County Jail located in West Central Pennsylvania during the early 1970’s. She had a desire to see many of these women not only free from confinement, but also free from their binding addictions. There she began ministering to individuals and witnessed firsthand the healing and delivering power of God. Her first experience in the field of drug and alcohol treatment was in the late 1970’s at a Teen Challenge facility in Western Pennsylvania. There she directed the female component of the program and specialized in personal care and spiritual growth. At Teen Challenge, Dr. Spellman was able to see how a structured program could be effective in the treatment of substance abusers. Following her tenure there, she was employed at the Bureau of Correction in the Commissioner’s Office. However, her promotion to this position did not erase the desire in her heart to see lives changed and in 1980, she founded Peniel.

Peniel was established without the benefit of starting capital. Rather, it was birthed with a deep desire to provide effective professional rehabilitation for men and women who require long-term inpatient treatment for chronic drug and/ or alcohol addiction or mild emotional problems. The program has served literally thousands of men and women from all over the country during its existence and has one of the highest success rates in the nation.

From its humble beginnings in Dillsburg, Pennsylvania to now, Peniel has grown tremendously and recently has expanded its center in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. These brand new additions include two expanded dormitories, a gymnasium, a sanctuary, increased office space, and more. As Peniel looks to cross the threshold of 35 successful years of effective Christian treatment, we are very excited and enthusiastic about what the future holds. Men and women continue to seek help for their life-dominating addictions, and God continues to bless Peniel with the capability to serve them.