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Church Names New Organist, Music Director January 16, 2018

Sean Fox was recently named the organist and music director at St. Mary's Episcopal Chapel in Warwick Township. His first service playing the organ at the local historic church was on Jan. 14.

Fox, who resides in Mohnton, is already familiar with St. Mary's and its members, including pastoral leader Alan Lindsay and parish administrator Peggy Kandle, who had served as interim music director. "(Fox) was my organ teacher for a time," Kandle noted.

Fox has been a guest organist at St. Mary's and has played for the church's Christmas service. He succeeds former organist Katie Rutt and interim organist Sharon Levering.

Fox describes the music played during the Sunday service as traditional. Some of the hymns featured on Jan. 14 included "How Bright Appears the Morning Star," "The People Who in Darkness Walked" and "Christ, Whose Glory Fills the Skies."

In addition to the organ, St. Mary's is home to a baby grand piano, which was dedicated during a Sunday service last September. It was donated to the congregation by Calvary Church in Conshohocken.

"I (will) play the church's old digital Hammond organ and the piano mostly for prelude," Fox said. "I also play guitar, so there's possibilities for that in the future." He added that the church has a pipe organ as well, which he hopes will be restored in the future.

Fox is the founder of a Morgantown music store, where he teaches guitar, piano and organ. He also teaches a beginner guitar class at Chester County Night School. "I have a large roster of piano and guitar students," he noted.

Fox said he is excited to play at St. Mary's Episcopal Chapel, also known as Old Saint Mary's Church, which is listed on the National Historic Registry. The current church building dates to 1843, when it was constructed to replace the original structure built in 1806.

The church is a one-story, rectangular stuccoed fieldstone structure built in the Gothic Revival style, and it features a hand-carved wooden altar and wooden doors that enclose the church pews. The church is surrounded by the parish cemetery, with burials dating back to 1806.

"I love this building," Fox stated. "It has an air about it. It's very beautiful."

He also said that congregation members all know and support each other and that they take special care of the old church building. "Everyone is so close here; everybody knows each other," he said.

"We are a family," Kandle added.

Sunday worship at St. Mary's is held at 10:15 a.m., and a Bible-based forum for adults is offered at 9 a.m. Light refreshments, including coffee and baked goods, are available before and after the service.

In addition to holding Sunday services, St. Mary's Chapel is open for tours, private meditation and prayer every Wednesday from 1 to 4 p.m. Kandle will guide visitors through the church and the historic cemetery that surrounds it.

The cemetery includes gravesites of veterans from as far back as the Revolutionary War. The cemetery also contains the grave of the church founder, the Rev. Dr. Levi Bull.

Lindsay also leads "Breakfast With the Bible," a Bible study group that is held every Friday at 8:30 a.m. at the Morgantown Coffee House, 4997 N. Twin Valley Road, Elverson. Attendees from all denominations are welcome, and people can join the group at any time.

St. Mary's Chapel is located at 161 Warwick Road, Elverson. The community is welcome to attend Sunday services and the Bible study group and to tour and visit the church on Wednesday afternoons. For more information, readers may email Lindsay at


Congregation Names New Leader November 30, 2017

On Oct. 21, Lloyd Scalyer transferred leadership of The Seed of Abraham Messianic Congregation over to Dennis Shatto, who is now the new spiritual leader at the congregation. Shatto and his wife Betsy live in Harrisburg.

The foundation for the Seed of Abraham began with the Jewish evangelism work of Lloyd and Judith Scalyer and Edward Rhawn, along with volunteers from different congregations. In the early years of meetings, services and Bible studies were held at various locations east of Lancaster, including the Scalyer's home. After urgings from The Messianic Hebrew Christian Fellowship (confirmed by Lancaster Evangelical Free Church Elder Board), Scalyer decided to begin a new congregation. Scalyer was ordained in 1981.

In 1994, the Scalyers, along with several other like-minded persons, began meeting on Fridays. Soon they moved to Saturdays. In 1999, The Seed of Abraham moved to the Mill in Lititz, where it currently meets on Saturdays at 10:15 a.m.


Church Wards Receive New Bishoprics November 22, 2017

The Lancaster, Elizabethtown, and Ephrata wards of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints received new bishoprics during October.

The Lancaster Ward is presided over by Bishop John W. Hume, and his counselors are Kevin Turner and Carlos Juarez. Hume provides software support and training. He is married and has five children. Turner works as a health care administrator and is married with two children. Juarez works as a commercial IT specialist and SAT coach. He is married with two children.

The Ephrata Ward is presided over by Bishop Simon Elmore, and his counselors are Karl Ludwig and Chris Baird. Elmore is a senior project engineer. He is married with six children. Ludwig is self-employed and is married with four children.

The Elizabethtown Ward is presided over by Wayne Bushey, and his counselors are Adam McBride and Kent Alexander Meldrum. Bushey restores Pintos, is married, and has five children. McBride works for the church as the regional coordinator of seminaries and institutes of religion. He is married with six children. Kent Meldrum is an OB/GYN physician. He is married with four children.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has four wards of the church in Lancaster County. Each ward consists of between 300 and 500 people, with organizations for children, teenagers, and adults. Each ward is overseen by a bishop and his two counselors. These men are called by higher church authorities and approved by a vote of acclimation from the congregation. They serve without compensation, volunteering their time and talents without receiving a salary. A bishop can easily spend 20 hours per week serving members of the ward.


Church Appoints Director Of Youth And Family Ministries November 1, 2017

The journey from North Carolina to Pennsylvania has been one of many transitions for Will Adair, but he is now firmly established as the new director of Youth and Family Ministries at Grace Covenant Church in Exton.

After leaving the Southern Baptist denomination, Adair began researching job opportunities with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC). "I was bi-vocational. I was a Southern Baptist church-planting pastor and an information technology (IT) director for 10 years for a nonprofit," Adair explained. "My wife, Olivia, saw this position (posted online) before I did and she said this church looks like it would be a good fit for us."

Adair applied for the position, and Grace Covenant contacted him for an interview this past spring. "A member of the search committee from this church, in a place I never heard of called Exton, messaged me," he recalled. "We came up, touched down in Philadelphia (and) drove up here, and as we were driving, we literally fell in love with the area. I love mountains and rolling hills."

Adair had also interviewed at an EPC church in Ohio and he turned down a job as an IT system administrator at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. "(God) has got a plan that is much bigger than our plans. If we pray and trust in Him, He will guide us," Adair said, noting that the family's home in North Carolina has been sold and his wife and four children will move to Chester County permanently by the end of November.

One of Adair's goals when he began at Grace Covenant in August was to establish a plan so that both children and adults who attend Sunday worship and Sunday school will all hear the same biblical message. "I told the search committee that I would like to create a ministry that is basically continuous across the board, so everyone is on the same page. You do a message series that is different for each age group (but on the same overall topic)," he explained.

Grace EPC provides Grace Kids, a ministry for children, during the 9:30 a.m. worship service. Children in preschool through second grade begin worship with their parents and come forward to hear the children's message. Then they may either go to class or stay with their parents. Third-grade through high school students worship with the congregation and may attend Sunday school at 11 a.m.

Children and adults at Grace EPC hear the same basic message, but for the younger children, it includes hands-on activities like creating figures out of modeling compound. "Basically, (the volunteers) distill down the idea of what the main sermon is that (the children's) parents (have listened to), and it's made age-appropriate," said Adair. "As a dad of four kids, I want my children to be learning what I'm learning so we can discuss it together."

He said that this enables the lessons learned at church to carry over through the week. "We want to train our parents to be the primary worship leaders for their kids. Worship is not something you do on Sunday; you do it as part of who you are. We put a lot of focus on that," said Adair. "We put a big focus on parents being able to disciple their own children."

Adair is also in charge of the church's teen ministry, which meets on Sundays at 6:30 p.m. The program includes music, a message, social activities and snacks. Adair is in the process of converting a room at the church into a teen center.

Grace Covenant is located in the Oaklands Corporate Center at 444 Creamery Way, Exton. For more information, readers may call 610-924-7282 or visit or


Stake Announces New Leadership October 25, 2017

President Conrad Knudson, president of the Lancaster Pennsylvania Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) in York and Lancaster counties, has announced the calling of four new bishoprics in the Stake, which includes changes in leadership in four of the nine LDS churches in this area.

Members of the church are asked to attend church in geographical areas, called wards, in which they reside. A bishop presides over a ward; smaller churches use the term "president" instead. Bishops are lay ministers who volunteer their time and generally serve for a number of years in that position.

The newly called bishopric of the Shrewsbury Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2100 Hollywood Drive, York Township, is bishop Michael Abramson of Red Lion, who has replaced bishop Richard Miles of Shrewsbury. Abramson is married to Teri Sue Allen Abramson and has five children. He also holds a full-time job as a mathematician for the federal government. The Shrewsbury congregation meets at 9 a.m. for sacrament meeting, followed by Sunday school and primary at 10:10 a.m. and auxiliary meetings at 11:10 a.m., including priesthood, Relief Society, primary, and youth groups. The ward is also served by First Counselor A.J. Newcomer of Red Lion and Second Counselor Michael Stackhouse of Glenville.

The newly called bishopric of the Elizabethtown Ward, 1136 Sunwood Lane, Lancaster, is bishop Wayne Edward "Topper" Bushey II of Hellam Township, who is replacing bishop Derrick Herbert of Willow Street. Bushey is the son of the late Wayne and Shirleyanne Bushey of York. He is married to Shirley Sparkman Bushey, and the couple has five children. He is president of the National Nostalgic Nova Club, and he specializes in antique car restorations for a living. The Elizabethtown Ward begins sacrament meeting at 11 a.m., followed by Sunday school at 12:10 p.m. and auxiliary meetings at 1:10 p.m. The ward is also served by First Counselor Adam McBride of Elizabethtown and Second Counselor Kent Meldrum of Lancaster

Two other Lancaster County Wards received new Bishoprics. The Ephrata Ward is now being served by bishop Simon Elmore of Denver, First Counselor Karl Ludwig of Hopeland, and Second Counselor Chris Baird of Leola. Elmore has replaced bishop James Bowe.

The Lancaster Ward is now being served by bishop John Hume of Lancaster, First Counselor Carlos Juarez of Lancaster, and Second Counselor Kevin Turner of Lancaster. Hume has replaced bishop Allen Zerbe.

Additionally, the Columbia Branch of The Church of Jesus Christ, which was organized to accommodate Spanish-speaking people interested in attending a Mormon congregation, celebrated its two-year anniversary in May and recently called Second Counselor Luis Guerrero of Lancaster. The branch is split between two congregations: one meeting in Lancaster at 1200 E. King St., Lancaster, and the other meeting at 2100 Hollywood Drive, York. Meeting times are the same for each location, with Sunday school at 12:20 p.m.; priesthood, Relief Society, and youth groups at 1:10 p.m.; and sacrament meeting at 2:20 p.m. The meeting locations are combined on the fifth Sundays, and the approximately combined 74 members share a potluck dinner after the block of meetings. Officiating at the York church are First Counselor Angel Maximiliano Diaz of York and president Matthew Wayne Gogna of York. Gogna also presides as the branch president in Lancaster.

Interested community members are invited to attend LDS services, including these additional congregations in the Lancaster Stake: Dover Branch, Lititz Ward, West York Ward, and York Ward.


Full-Time Church Growth October 19, 2017

In January of 2014, Tim Witmer thought he had retired from being a full-time pastor. The New Holland native had left his church in Upper Darby and was serving as a professor at Westminster Seminary in Glenside. A chance meeting with his cousin, Carol Sprecher, in the bakery department of a local grocery store caused his plans to change.

Sprecher asked Tim to help fill the pulpit at St. Stephen Reformed Church, 249 E. Main St., New Holland, and he agreed. In November 2014, the members of St. Stephen voted to call him as part-time pastor and elected to change denominations to become part of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). After serving as part-time pastor, Tim officially retired from teaching at Westminster on Sept. 5, having become the full-time lead pastor at St. Stephen on Sept. 1.

Tim's roots in New Holland run deep. He was raised in a local church, and he met his wife, Barbara, when Stan Deen cast the two opposite each other in a play at Garden Spot High School. Gesturing to a photo of a past New Holland Farm Show event on the wall of his office, Tim talked about his family's connection to the town. "This (photo is from) the late 1940s," he said. "My dad was on the farm show committee, and that's him right there. (The farm show) is part of our family history."

When Tim first suggested a denominational change to the members of St. Stephen, he had ideas for adding staff. "My original proposal in May 2014 included a part-time children's ministry director and a part-time youth intern," said Tim, who noted that the church had few, if any, children attending at the time. His plan was to reach out to young families. "Now we have excellent ministries in those categories, and we are seeing that bear fruit," he said.

The growth in the church since 2014 has been significant. St. Stephen is attracting more than 300 attendees to services each week and has added more than 180 new members in the last two years. "One of our keys has been a focus on Scripture in all our ministries," explained Tim. The church Sunday school program includes three adult electives and a children's program. "We'd love to see other dwindling churches consider this model for revitalization," noted Tim.

Tim is quick to acknowledge the support he receives in his role from children's ministry director Faith Titus and pastoral intern Nathaniel Stamper. Tim said that the church is looking forward to Stamper's scheduled ordination and installation as associate pastor in December. Stamper has been active in the church, recently spearheading the introduction of the church's life group ministry. Tim added that Barbara is leading the women's ministry, which currently involves about 60 women in Bible studies. Anita Witmer recently became the church's administrative assistant.

Tim first joined the teaching staff of Westminster in 1997 as a part-time lecturer in practical theology. He received full-time tenure in July 1999. Tim was promoted to associate professor in 2002, and the Philadelphia Presbytery of the PCA installed him as teacher at the seminary in February 2003. In 2006, he was inaugurated as professor of practical theology. In 2010, Tim published "The Shepherd Leader," which is now in use around the world to train church leaders. He later published two more books.

Tim is no longer making plans to retire. "I will continue as long as God gives me strength," he noted. "I am excited to be here in New Holland full time and to see what the Lord is going to do."

St. Stephen currently holds Sunday services at 8:15 and 10:30 a.m. Sunday school for people of all ages is held at 9:30 a.m. More information about the church may be found at


Church Installs Associate Pastor October 18, 2017

Mount Zion United Church of Christ (UCC) in York installed the Rev. Jeffery Kardisco as its associate pastor on Oct. 22. The installation portion of the service was conducted by the York Association president, the Rev. Kelly Shiflett, of the Penn Central Conferenece of the UCC.

In a unanimous congregation vote, Kardisco was elected to become associate pastor of Mount Zion in April. He was ordained at Trinity UCC in Waynesboro, of the Mercersburg Association.

Kardisco graduated from Penn State University and earned a master's degree from Lancaster Theological Seminary. He married his wife, Danielle, in 2012.

Those participating in the service included the Rev. Danielle Neff, senior pastor; the Rev. Cathy Sherry, former senior pastor; Danika Dallam, council moderator; the Rev. Pat Mullen, York Association Committee on Ministry partner; the Rev. Dr. Laurene Bowers, Penn Central conference minister; and members Rick Hogentogler and the Rev. Guy Wenck.


Church Welcomes New Youth Pastor October 13, 2017

The Mount Joy Church of God, 30 E. Main St., has hired a new youth pastor, Johnny Krantz.

Krantz was born and raised in Orange County, Calif., before transplanting to Boston to pursue a philosophy degree at the University of Massachusetts; serve as a youth leader at his church in Cambridge, Mass.; and help plant a church in the Boston suburbs. One evening, Krantz listened to an online sermon by Dr. Ted Ewing, pastor of Mount Joy Church of God and longtime family friend. In the sermon, Ewing quoted Krantz's late missionary grandfather. As a result, Krantz reached out to Ewing to reconnect, discovering Ewing's church's need for someone to minister to youths.

Krantz noted that his first priority is to get to know local youths and community members. He also plans to develop personal, Christ-centered relationships and needs-based care and to remind students and parents that they are loved by God.

The youth group, for students in seventh through 12th grades, meets on Sundays from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the fellowship hall. Readers may visit for more information.


Church Welcomes New Pastor October 12, 2017

Gospel Light Baptist Church in Millersville will introduce Andrew Almanza as its new pastor on Sunday, Oct. 22, at 11 a.m.

Almanza was ordained into Christian ministry in 2006. His experience includes serving as a professor of New Testament theology, biblical studies, and biblical languages for eight years; serving on several extended missions trips in Zambia, Africa, and Mexico City, Mexico; directing a senior citizen's ministry; and organizing and directing an ESL program for Spanish-speaking people and numerous children's ministries. He holds a bachelor's degree in missions and a master's degree in Bible, both from Fairhaven Baptist College. He also has business experience; he started his own company and managed Lake View Ventilation for the past several years.

Almanza has been married to his wife, Anna, for 12 years. They have four children, Martha, Allen, Amelia, and Kara.

A special luncheon featuring Italian beef sandwiches will follow the 11 a.m. service. There will also be a caramel apple station and children's activities. The public is invited to attend.


Grace UCC Names New Director Of Music October 12, 2017

Grace United Church of Christ (UCC), 1947 New Holland Pike, Lancaster, welcomed its new director of music, Sam Tarasenko, on Oct. 1. Since his arrival, Tarasenko has brought an eclectic mixture of music to the worship service, including compositions by Philip Glass, Beethoven, and even a piece Tarasenko composed himself in response to the tragedy in Las Vegas.

Tarasenko earned a Bachelor of Music in both theory and history from Temple University. He served as pianist and music director at St. Paul's UCC in Bowmansville and completed an internship with Astral Artists, a nonprofit intensive mentoring program in Philadelphia that specializes in developing the early careers of classical musicians. Tarasenko plays the piano and the organ.

Tarasenko plans to work with the church's choir, worship band, and leadership to create meaningful worship experiences. He hopes to integrate a blend of the arts into worship and events at Grace UCC and envisions a music ministry that will reach beyond the walls of the church building. The community is invited to experience worship at Grace UCC on Sundays at 10:30 a.m.

Additional information is available at or by searching for "Grace UCC" on Facebook.


Lampeter UMC Welcomes New Pastor October 12, 2017

Lampeter United Methodist Church (UMC), located at the corner of Book and Village roads, has welcomed John G. Smith as its pastor, replacing Blaine Wenger, who was sent to Ruhl's UMC. Smith is not a stranger to the area, as he had served in Lancaster at what is now New Creation UMC from 2001 to 2010.

Smith is Jamaican by birth, and he earned a Master of Divinity from United Theological College of the West Indies, an ecumenical seminary for Protestant denominations throughout the Caribbean. His first appointment was to Belize, where he and his wife, Claudia, served for nine years. A scholarship from the World Council of Churches took the couple to Indiana, where Smith earned a Master of Sacred Theology from Christian Theological Seminary. Smith was next appointed to Jamaica, where he was a pastor for nine years, and then he and Claudia, as well as their three children, came to Lancaster to serve at New Creation UMC. Most recently, Smith was the pastor at Pocono Lake UMC.

"Each (appointment) has had its unique blessings and challenges," Smith remarked.

He observed that the Lampeter congregation is uniquely positioned, with equal access to urban, suburban, and rural ways of life. One of Smith's goals is to move the church toward a greater realization of its role in shaping society.

"I would like to see the church become more mindful of the needs around here," Smith said. "We can be a strong voice and advocate for the poor and for other needs. Christianity is not just about piety. A good test of effectiveness is to ask, 'If your church would be destroyed, who would miss you?'"

Administrative council chair John Strange has appreciated Smith's approach.

"John has challenged us as individuals and as a church to consider (the question) 'what can you do to bring others to Christ?'" Strange said. "His preaching is conversational but deliberate, and it hits you deep."

Smith has been preaching on the topics of growing in Christ; compassion, care, and social witness; how to live out the faith, especially regarding parenting and suffering; and sharing the faith through evangelism. In November, he has planned a series based on Wayne Muller's book "How Then Shall We Live? Four Simple Questions That Reveal the Beauty and Meaning of Our Lives." During the month of December, each Sunday in Advent will explore the questions asked in the song "Do You Hear What I Hear?"

Smith has had cause to ask questions in his ministry, such as the reasons for his appointment to a particular country or congregation. However, he has exhibited faith and good humor through that process.

"The cabinet prayerfully discerns the gifts of its clergy," Smith said. "They don't tell you why you're placed."

Smith pointed out that in many of his appointments, he has had to help churches heal through remediation and restoring relationships, and he has developed a process to make the transition between pastors a positive experience.

"I take a long time to get to know people and to hear their story," he said. "Together, we articulate a vision of where we need to go. I help the church recognize its reason for existence and spend time refreshing (members') memories for why we're here."

People who would like to be part of that process may join the congregation for worship on Sundays. A traditional service is held at 8 a.m., and a contemporary service begins at 10:30 a.m. Children's Church for youngsters through fifth grade is offered during the second service. Sunday school classes for children, youths, and adults meet at 9:15 a.m. A nursery is available.

For more information about Smith or the church, readers may visit, call 717-464-4161, or search for @LampeterChurch on Facebook.


CLPC Welcomes New Pastor October 12, 2017

After a search process that took more than a year, Chestnut Level Presbyterian Church (CLPC) has welcomed a new pastor. The Rev. John Hartman began working at the church on Sept. 10, and he will be installed in a special service on Sunday, Oct. 22, at 10 a.m. in the church sanctuary, 1068 Chestnut Level Road, Quarryville.

Hartman's predecessor, the Rev. Michael Wilson, who accepted a position with the Donegal Presbytery, will issue the charge. Executive presbyter Erin Cox-Holmes will also participate in the installation, which Hartman compared to a wedding ceremony. A reception will be held in the Family Life Center (FLC) following the service.

Hartman came to CLPC from the South. A native of New Jersey and a graduate of Princeton Seminary, Hartman previously served churches in Virginia and North Carolina. His three adult children live in North Carolina.

Hartman is not bereft of family in the region, however. His father, who is 85, still lives in New Jersey, and his sister lives in West Lampeter.

"It's a call from God. This is where He feels I can use my skills," Hartman said. He listed preaching and building relationships as two of his strongest gifts. "I do enjoy preaching, proclaiming God's Word to the people in ways that connect them to God's love," Hartman remarked. "(And) I enjoy the fellowship of being with folks."

Denise McCardell, who served on the pastoral nominating committee, affirmed Hartman's assessment of himself. "When you are talking with John, you can be in a room with a hundred people, but he focuses on you," she said. "He's a very genuine, caring person, and that came across when we met him."

Hartman also expressed a desire to help folks in need. "I want to provide genuine Christian care for people who are hurting with various issues," he said. "(We will explore) how the church and I can bring hope and healing." Hartman will offer pastoral counseling when people are in crisis, but he will refer them to other professionals in the area as appropriate. He also hopes to challenge the congregation to actively engage in their communities and to meet needs regarding poverty, substance abuse, and broken families.

One of the current ways the church engages with the community is by offering a low-cost meal midweek as part of the Wednesday Night Alive program. Held in the FLC, the meal is served at 5 p.m., and at 6:30 p.m., classes for people of all ages meet. Hartman is currently leading "The Mayberry Bible Study" with a group of adults, and more participants are welcome.

Hartman enjoys a variety of athletic pursuits, and he plans to launch some sports-related community activities at the church. Pickup basketball will begin in February, and a pickleball league may also be created.

He is also planning ahead for Christmas. Advent will begin on Sunday, Dec. 3, and a cantata will be performed during the worship service on Sunday, Dec. 24. Services with carols and candles will be held at 5 and 7:30 p.m. that day, and a third service, this time with Communion, will be held at 11 p.m.

"I like ringing in Christmas with my church family," Hartman remarked.

Guests are welcome to attend the installation service and to join the congregation at other events. Worship services are typically held on Sundays at 8 and 10:30 a.m., with Sunday school classes for people of all ages at 9:30 a.m. On the fifth Sunday of the month, only one worship service is held at 10 a.m. Nursery care is available, and children's church is offered during the second service.

For more information about CLPC, readers may visit, call 717-548-2763, or email


Temple Names Director September 20, 2017

Benjamin Wachstein has been named the inaugural executive director at Congregation Shaarai Shomayim in Lancaster. In this role, Wachstein will work with Rabbi Jack Paskoff and the temple board of trustees to handle many of the business-related aspects of congregational life.

Wachstein previously served as the executive director of Beth El Temple in Harrisburg, where he was responsible for crafting a budget, overseeing the day-to-day operations of the facility, and leading fundraising efforts. Prior to his time at Beth El, he was the regional director of BBYO in Cherry Hill, N.J. Wachstein is a graduate of Rutgers University.


Church Offers Awana Program For Youths September 13, 2017

Activities Led By New Children's Ministry Director

Youngsters age 3 through sixth grade are invited to enjoy Bible stories, games, snacks and other fun activities during the Wednesday night Awana program offered at Faith Community Baptist Church (FCBC) of Chester County, located in West Bradford Township.

Awana, which runs from September through May, meets from 6:45 to 8 p.m. in the church's downstairs fellowship hall. Leading Awana this year for the first time is Caleb Landis, who is FCBC's new children's ministry director and music director. "It has been less than a year since I have started here at FCBC, and I am focusing on growing our Awana program for kids in our community," he stated.

Awana is divided into three age groups. Cubbies is for youngsters ages 3 and 4, Sparks is for students in kindergarten through second grade and Truth and Training (T&T) is for third- through sixth-graders. While children are in Awana, parents are invited to attend the Wednesday evening prayer meeting that gathers upstairs in the church at the same time.

Each session of Awana begins with an opening assembly. "We have some pledges and songs that we sing to open up," said Landis. "The 3- and 4-year-olds then break off and have their own programs with games, snacks and Bible verses. The two older groups have Bible story time, and from there, they work through these little sections in their Awana booklets. They have a lot of Bible memory (exercises) that they do."

A nominal fee is charged for the Awana workbook and T-shirt. "If that is prohibitive for someone, scholarships are available," Landis noted.

Landis is assisted in the program by church volunteers, as well as his wife, Abby, and the pastor's wife, Cindy Venable, who is also the church secretary. "We tell the volunteers to be very affirming with the kids and make sure they are enjoying it. It's a big part of what brings the kids back," Landis noted. "We have a great time. We probably spend about a quarter of the night playing in the gym."

Landis, who was appointed by FCBC pastor Roland Venable, has a history of working with children's ministries. His father, Jack, is director of Child Evangelism Fellowship of Chester County, a ministry supported by FCBC. "We always did our child evangelism work as a family, so when we came to the church to do presentations, I would always come along," Landis said.

Landis, 26, was homeschooled in elementary school and high school while growing up in the Coatesville area. He graduated from Liberty University with a Bachelor of Science in religion. He is currently enrolled in Liberty's seminary program, working toward his Master of Divinity in biblical studies.

Together he and the pastor have made plans to grow the children's ministry at FCBC. "We wedded my experience and my passion, which is working with kids, and his vision of trying to reach younger people," Landis said.

Landis emphasized that Awana is open to youths of all backgrounds, whether they belong to a church or not. "The whole point is to spread the love and good news about Jesus to people who may not have heard it before," he stated. "It's not just about training people who already believe in the principles of the faith. The big focus is introducing people to Jesus. That was His main mission for us. He told us to reach out to everyone."

FCBC, an independent Baptist church, is located at 1585 Glenside Road, Downingtown, directly across the street from Shadyside Park. Sunday school is held at 9:30 a.m., followed by Sunday morning worship at 10:45 a.m. There is also a Sunday service at 6 p.m.

For more information, readers may call 610-384-4053 or visit or


Local Church To Install Pastor September 5, 2017

First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), 442 Hummel Ave., Lemoyne, has announced that the ordination and installation service for Delores Marie Tribble will take place on Sunday, Sept. 17, at 5 p.m. The community is invited to attend.

Tribble has served the Lemoyne congregation for almost two years and will be the first African-American installed as pastor in the church's 123-year history.

Tribble's resume includes more than 10 years in corporate finance working on diverse teams across five countries. She has matriculated through seminary and possesses more than 13 years of previous ecumenical ministry experience. She also works with a variety of community organizations and associations attempting to carry out the mission of Christ in the world.

The Rev. Thaddeus Allen, regional minister and pastor of Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Pennsylvania, will preside over the ordination and installation ceremony, and the Rev. Dr. Arthur Brown, senior pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church, Harrisburg, will be the guest preacher.

Dinner will be served at 3 p.m., and there will be a reception immediately following the service.

First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) was founded in 1894 and aims to be a place for Christians to grow in their faith. Weekly worship services are held on Sundays at 10:15 a.m. For more information, readers may call 717-763-4537 or visit


Church Installs New Pastor September 1, 2017

The Rev. John Fritts recently was installed as the new pastor of Covenant Moravian Church, located at 901 Cape Horn Road. Fritts had been serving as chaplain at Marquardt Village in Watertown, Wis., for the past three years.

He completed his Master of Divinity degree at the Moravian Theological Seminary in Bethlehem in 2014 while serving as pastor of Redeemer Moravian Church in Philadelphia. Before attending seminary, he worked in the printing industry for 35 years.

Fritts and his wife, Anne, are originally from Bethlehem and have two married daughters and two grandchildren who live in the Lancaster and York area.

The Frittses recently returned from a trip to the Czech Republic and Germany, where they visited many of the historical sites of early church reformers who in 1457 founded the Unity of the Brethren in Bohemia. In 1727, this Protestant group became known as the Moravian Church when they settled in Herrnhut, Germany.


New Pastor Joins Church August 28, 2017

The Carlisle Presbytery and Derry Presbyterian Church, 248 E. Derry Road, Hershey, invite the public to the installation of the Rev. Dr. Stephen McKinney-Whitaker as pastor. The service will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 12, in the sanctuary and will also be live streamed at A reception will follow in fellowship hall.

The Rev. Rebecca Weltmann will preach. She was the pastor of Washington Presbyterian Church in Washington, Ill., and a friend of McKinney-Whitaker's from his former Presbytery who now resides in New Jersey.

McKinney-Whitaker began his ministry at Derry Church in July. He comes from United Presbyterian Church, Peoria, Ill., where he has served as pastor head of staff since 2009. He received his Doctor of Ministry from McCormick Theological Seminary, his Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary, and his Bachelor of Arts in religious studies from the University of South Carolina. In addition, he has been active in local mission initiatives in Peoria and in the national Next Church movement within the Presbyterian Church (USA).

For more information, readers may call the church office at 717-533-9667 or visit


Stillmeadow To Celebrate Pastor's Ministry July 26, 2017

Stillmeadow Church of the Nazarene, 400 Stillmeadow Lane, York, will hold a Celebration of Ministry Service for pastor Bayse "Bud" Reedy Jr., who has accepted a call to the Charlottesville First Church of the Nazarene, Charlottesville, Va. The service will take place at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 27, in the church's Family Life Center. The community is invited.

Reedy has served Stillmeadow as lead pastor for the last 27 years. He started his ministry in August of 1990 and moved to York along with his wife, Sally, and children, Greg and Heather.

During Reedy's tenure, the church has undergone many changes. Stillmeadow changed its name from York First Church of the Nazarene to Stillmeadow Church of the Nazarene when it relocated from 850 S. Pine St. to the current location at 400 Stillmeadow Lane. During this relocation, a promise was made to "go back to the city of York." In 2011, Stillmeadow dedicated the York City Campus at 350 Chestnut St. The church has grown from about 400 regular attendees to about 1,200. Additionally, during Reedy's tenure, Stillmeadow entered into a partnership with the East Jamaica District Church of the Nazarene, allowing international relationships to be built that will last beyond his tenure.

Stillmeadow plans to continue Jesus' mission and look to the future with the foundation that has been laid by Reedy's ministry.


Olivet UMC Welcomes New Pastor July 20, 2017

Olivet United Methodist Church (UMC) in Coatesville welcomed Johnson Dodla as its new pastor during the 10 a.m. worship service on July 2.

Dodla is from Exton UMC, where he served as lead pastor since July 1, 2011, when Exton UMC was formed from the merger of Crossroads UMC and the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection. Dodla had been serving as lead pastor at Crossroads UMC at the time of the merger.

As in the UMC tradition, Dodla was assigned to lead the congregation at Olivet UMC. "I love the appointment system. The church belongs to the people and not necessarily the pastor," he said. "The ministries that are carried on need to be driven by the body (of the church). It is not solely based on one leader."

Dodla grew up in India and received Bachelor of Arts degrees in theology from both Trinity Christian College and Hindustan Bible College. He began his ministerial work as a youth and outreach coordinator at Centenary Methodist Church in India.

In 2000, Dodla moved to England, where he served as a youth and community worker at St. John's Anglican Church. After one year in that position, he moved to Pennsylvania to work with The Pittsburgh Project, a Christian organization for inner-city at-risk youths.

While in Pittsburgh, Dodla met his future wife, Christyn, who lived in Downingtown. He eventually made the move to the area, where the couple married and had four children: Samara 9; Elijah, 7; Annika, 4; and Josiah, 3.

Dodla said he is excited to lead Olivet UMC, which is celebrating 200 years of Methodism in the Coatesville area. The church was founded in 1817 and, in 1885, it moved to its current location at Third and Chestnut streets.

"My immediate goal is to get to know the people and the community," Dodla stated, noting that visitors are especially welcome to meet him and view the sanctuary, which features magnificent stained glass windows and ornate woodwork. "We are intentional in knowing that not everyone is coming to the worship service with the same experiences. (You will feel comfortable) if you were part of the church for the past 80 years or it's your first time at the church," he said.

Dodla said that pastoring a church in an inner-city environment has both differences and similarities to leading a church in the suburbs. "What is similar is that we are all broken and in need of God's grace," he said. "What is different is that each and every community has its own set of challenges and needs. The work of the church is to determine what those needs are and address them."

Dodla said he would like Olivet UMC to be a place where people of all ages and backgrounds come together to worship God. "(I envision a church) where the economically advantaged and the disadvantaged, the white, the brown and the black would all come to worship together," he stated. "That is my vision for the city - (that) we would do ministry in a way where all (people) can sing and praise God together."

Olivet UMC is located at 310 E. Chestnut St., Coatesville. The Sunday worship service is held at 10 a.m. and is preceded by Sunday school for adults from 9 to 9:45 a.m. Sunday school for children takes place during the worship service, and nursery care for infants and toddlers is offered from 9:45 to 11:15 a.m.

For more information, readers may call 610-384-5828 or visit or


Olivet UMC Names New Youth Minister July 12, 2017

As part of its ongoing revitalization and to better serve the congregation, Olivet United Methodist Church (UMC) in Coatesville recently appointed Andrew Tait as its new family and youth minister.

Tait joined the staff along with pastor Johnson Dodla, with both starting their new positons at the church on July 1.

"This position is newly created," Tait stated. "The congregation and the leaders of the church wanted a revitalization of the children's and youth department. They raised the money and created the position."

Tait, a graduate of Eastern University, hails from Radnor. He said his upbringing - his mom was a Sunday school teacher and his dad was a deacon - prepared him for working in the church. "I was in the church a lot as a kid helping out with projects," he said. "It took me a while to realize, but being a part of that youth group helped me through a lot more than just mastering the basics of the Bible. The leaders and teachers I had while in the youth group - from sixth grade all the way through high school and even now - have been pillars in my faith journey."

Tait said his initial goal at Olivet UMC is to communicate with the youths who attend church and to get to know them. "There are a few youths active within the church. As far as a formal youth group, my job is to rebuild," Tait stated.

After his interview at the church several months ago, Tait began attending Sunday services at Olivet UMC along with his fiancee, Christa. The couple married in June.

"There are a lot of older generation congregants and grandkids, but we are missing (parents in their) mid-20s to 30s who have older elementary school kids (and beyond)," he observed. "There is room to grow in the future."

Tait said that he and Dodla hope to help firmly establish Olivet UMC as a community church. Right now, the church offers a free community luncheon every Wednesday at noon.

"(Pastor Dodla) is more of a contemporary worship type of guy," Tait said. "There is nothing wrong with tradition, but we like to liven things up. We are both excited about what we see and what we want to do as well. He has a youth ministry background as well, and he has a vision for the church as a whole."

Tait's eventual goal is to form a structured youth group with regular scheduled meetings and activities. "We will meet after the Sunday service or on a weeknight where (youths can) bring friends," he said. "We're working toward that.

"I want to see the church as a whole grow as well," Tait added. "With a church that is in such a unique area with so many children, it is a great opportunity and there is room for growth."

Olivet UMC is located at 310 E. Chestnut St., Coatesville. The Sunday worship service is held at 10 a.m. and is preceded by Sunday school for adults from 9 to 9:45 a.m. Sunday school for children takes place during the worship service, and nursery care for infants and toddlers is offered from 9:45 to 11:15 a.m.

For more information, readers may call 610-384-5828 or visit or

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