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Hegins church marks 150th anniversary

At its 150th anniversary service Sunday, Betty Willard was asked why St. John’s United Methodist in Hegins had endured for a century and a half.

“The people stuck together,” said Williard, 94, a church member for 57 years.

A similar sentiment was expressed at various times during the anniversary service, which was led by Pastor Benjamin Scholl.

Many former church members, including several former pastors, returned for the landmark event.
Every pew in the church was filled, totaling at least 150 current and former parishioners.

Bette Scheib, 79, a church member since childhood, was overjoyed at the turnout.

“It warms my heart that so many people came back to visit and be with friends of the church,” said Scheib, a retired human relations worker at Fort Indiantown Gap.

As it celebrated its sesquicentennial, St. John’s is looking forward as well as back.

“We’re trying to be more community oriented,” said Scheib, who accompanied former junior choir members in the hymn “Jesus Loves Me.” “We held a street fair for the first time this year, and we will be participating in a Christmas tree lighting service on December 2.”

The church began as St. John’s Evangelical Church on land donated by Moses and Elizabeth Dunkelberger in 1873, according to a church history published on its 100th anniversary.

The Dunkelbergers lived next to the church in what is now the parish house.

In 1889, the church bought land for a cemetery from Nathan Yoder for $300, the history says.

During the call to service, Scholl led the congregation in a prayer that captured the spiritual aura of the occasion.

“We gather, looking back to see the paths taken, and look forward to see our path,” he said. “We honor those who have gone before us, learning from their successes and failures.”

In the welcoming address, Debra Romberger said it was “absolutely wonderful to see a full house of worship.”

The anniversary committee began planning the event 11 months ago, said Romberger, who performed the hymn “Holy Spirit” at a recital prior to the service.

Also performing were Sharol Snyder, who sang “In The Image of God;” the Maurer family, led by the Rev. Thomas Maurer, who sang “Because He Lives;” and Amy Bartholomew, who sang “It Is Well With My Soul.”

The men’s chorus, directed by Lynne Hausman, performed “A New Name In Glory.” And Ashley Christman performed a piano solo.

The children’s bell choir received enthusiastic applause after performing “To God Be The Glory.” Its members are Ryder Carl, Allistar Scholl, Eliot Scholl, Luke Weaver, Elizabeth Wright and Kaden Wenrich, a youngster who received some assistance from Patricia Carl.

Saying the church wouldn’t be able to celebrate its 150th anniversary had it not been for those who laid the foundation in the past, pastor Scholl introduced several longtime church members.

Helen Kessler, who’s 100, was among those recognized. Others, all in their 90s, were Paul Lesher, Naomi Bixler and Marilyn Kembel.

Following the service, church members gathered for lunch in the congregation social hall.

Participants received 150th anniversary books and a commemorative program for the service.

A poem by Ahmad Jahangheer on the program read, in part: “We remember the foundation laid with care, and the faithful who built it with love and prayer. We honor the past, and look to the future. With hope in our hearts and the Lord as our future.”

The Childrens Bell Choir performed at the 150th anniversary service at St. John's United Methodist Church, Hegins, on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023. From left, they are Elliot Scholl, Allistar Scholl, Luke Weaver, Elizabeth Wright, Ryder Carl, Kaden Wenrich and Patricia Carl. The church was filled with present and former members for the service, conducted by Pastor Benjamin Scholl. (Ron Devlin - Republican-Herald)
The Childrens Bell Choir performed at the 150th anniversary service at St. John’s United Methodist Church, Hegins, on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023. From left, they are Elliot Scholl, Allistar Scholl, Luke Weaver, Elizabeth Wright, Ryder Carl, Kaden Wenrich and Patricia Carl. The church was filled with present and former members for the service, conducted by Pastor Benjamin Scholl. (Ron Devlin – Republican-Herald)
St. John's United Methodist Church, Hegins, was founded in 1873, when Ulysses S. Grant was president of the United States. On Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023, the church celebrated its 150th anniversary. (Ron Devlin - Republican-Herald
St. John’s United Methodist Church, Hegins, was founded in 1873, when Ulysses S. Grant was president of the United States. On Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023, the church celebrated its 150th anniversary. (Ron Devlin – Republican-Herald


Source: Berkshire mont

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