When the Rev. Mr. Glen Knecht first came to Union Presbyterian Church, he was a recent seminary graduate.
Later this month, the 89-year-old retired minister will return to the congregation to help members celebrate their 94th annual homecoming.
Access has become an issue for aging members of local church congregations.
"We had to go outside when we wanted to go up [to the sanctuary] or down [to the social hall]," said Merle Farmer, a member of Bethesda United Methodist Church. "That's a problem for people using walkers or in wheelchairs, especially in bad weather."
One option would have been to install an elevator in the Martic Township church.
"We considered that but the cost was just too high," Farmer said recently.
Then the congregation discovered there was another, less expensive, option.
In an earlier life, the books guided the church's congregation as members sang familiar hymns.
Now they've earned a second life as decorations for the coming Christmas season.
For the past several months, volunteers have been folding old hymnals, adding doll heads and hair, and turning the books into angels.
Mt. Eden Evangelical Lutheran Church held a blessing of the animals Saturday, October 4.
The games came first. Then organizers decided to throw in a birthday party.
That's not how most parties are planned, but it is the way organizers went about setting up Middle Octorara Presbyterian Church's first community game night.
They decided to host the event on August 7 and began to gather games and sports equipment.
Then they realized they were holding the event on the anniversary of the congregation's founding.
It took Shauna Ridge years to find her calling.
"It did not come from any one incident," she said last week. "It was a gradual call."
It was a call that saw her installed as pastor of Quarryville's United Methodist Church late last month. She started her pastorate on June 29; now she and her husband, Jamie, are settling in and getting to know the Southern End.
"The congregation has been very welcoming," she said last week.
Channeling that positive energy will be one of her first goals.
Members of Middle Octorara Presbyterian Church are collecting new and gently-used clothing for distribution next month.
"We are asking people to bring clean, useable clothing to the church [1199 Valley Rd.]," organizer Shirley Miller said recently. Donations may be dropped off in the church lobby any time.
Oak Hill Fellowship Church will install its new pastor during a special service at 9 a.m. on Sunday, July 27.
Ben Miller, a member of the congregation, will become the new pastor and teacher. He will replace the founding pastor, Nate Newell.
Pastor Newell helped plant the church six years ago and had intended to remain with the congregation. However, he has been called to become the new pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel, Kuala Lumpur. Pastor Newell will begin a four-month training period in Chicago in September.
Members of the Livingway Christian Fellowship have found a new home.
They hope it's permanent.
The congregation held its inaugural Sunday service on July 6 in the former Fellowship of the Faith Church at the corner of Maple Shade Rd. and Liberty Ln., Kirkwood.
Now its members are inviting others to join them.
"We welcome 5," said the pastor, David Cornette. "We're big on fellowship."
Krissy and Daryl Supplee will portray Mary and Joseph in the 34th annual Union Presbyterian Church Christmas pageant. Kayden Douglas Hadler will be Baby Jesus.
The pageant will be presented at the church, Street Rd. at Kirkwood Pike (Rt. 472), Kirkwood. The performances will be at 6:45 p.m. on December 14 and 15. Admission is free; refreshments will be served following each performance.
The pageant shares the celebration of Christmas as the miracle of the birth of Christ as presented in music, drama, and Biblical passages.
"Children are tremendously important to this church and to every church," said the Rev. Dr. Garfield Greene, pastor of Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church.
That's the main reason the congregation has spent just over a year and about $200,000 on an addition to the its white frame sanctuary at 310 Pilottown Rd., Peach Bottom.
Aaron Atkinson, the new Director of Youth and Young Adults Ministries at Chestnut Level Presbyterian Church, had an interesting response the first time someone suggested he become a youth pastor.
In the first semester of his sophomore year at Liberty University, a friend said Atkinson would be a great youth pastor.
"I laughed at the time," Atkinson recalls. He quickly realized his friend was right and soon got a sign.
A break dancer, Atkinson was scheduled to take a dance class. But the dance class was cancelled so he took a youth ministry class instead.
"I've known what I've wanted to do since then," he says. "There were some days I wasn't sure but God has always reassured me."
First came the vision of its founder, Ken Zieber, who retired from one career to start New Hope Community Life Ministry in 1998.
Then there's the vision of the non-profit to continue to offer counseling and other services in the Southern End.
Members of the Middle Octorara Presbyterian Women are preparing for one of their major fundraisers of the year.
The church women will be serving their annual turkey supper on Saturday, October 12.
They started the fundraiser six years ago and it now draws more than 300 people a year, said organizer Shirley Miller.
The meal includes turkey breast, mashed potatoes, stuffing, corn, peas, roll and butter, pepper cabbage, and cranberry sauce. There will be a selection of pies for dessert; coffee, tea, or water will be available.
This past summer, members of the New Providence Church of God's senior youth group spent a week at a work camp in Newfane, N.Y., helping families fix their homes.
The work camp in New York came as a surprise to leader James Ballantyne.
Applying lessons learned from their inaugural run, organizers hope to attract more runners to Union Presbyterian Church's second annual Run A Good Race.
They have hired professional timers because they were told that would attract more runners, organizer Lori Kelley said. "We had 152 people last year," she said. "We would like to see 300 this year."
The race began as a way to draw younger people to the church. "This is a family event. We will have music, refreshments, and other activities," Kelley said."We started it as a way to get people here and they really enjoyed it."
Karl Muller plans to bring one of his Packards to the inaugural car show at Little Britain Presbyterian Church this coming Saturday.
Muller, a member of the church's mission committee, is working with evangelism committee member Tom Brown to organize the show.
The idea was first presented to the church's trustees several years ago, Brown said.
"We're looking for ways to get people to come to church," he said.
Ken Hash and Bob Bistline love their work.
They just don't want to keep their jobs.
"I'm doing my best to work myself out of a job," the Rev. Hash said.
That is his job, he added. He and the Rev. Bistline are serving as interim pastors in Southern End churches. The Rev. Hash came to St. Paul's Church, Quarryville, on June 1. The Rev. Bistline came to Zion United Church of Christ, New Providence, late last year.While they serve different congregations, they have nearly identical goals.
"We're responsible for all the pastoral services from preaching to visitation. It's our job to keep the congregation stable while they're looking for a full-time minister," the Rev. Bistline said.
There's more to a Christian life than listening to a sermon every Sunday.
That's the premise of a two-year program of adult night courses being offered by Calvary Independent Baptist Church in Mechanic Grove.
The church first offered the classes in the spring of 2007. A change in pastors stopped the program until last fall.