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Memorial service held for Central District volunteers

By Staff | Aug 18, 2017

CAROL SHETLER/The Luminary Directed by Linda Steimling, nine members of the bell choir from Christ United Methodist Church in Hughesville, opened and closed the Memorial Service during a firefighter's convention held last weekend at the Lycoming County Fairgrounds at Hughesville.

HUGHESVILLE – Remembering deceased firefighters at annual conventions is a tradition that was followed on Friday, August 11 during the opening of the 125th anniversaries shared by the Central District Volunteer Firemen’s Association, and the Hughesville Area Fire Department who served as hosts.

Beginning at 9 a.m. and speaking at the solemn ceremony were Jerry Uppling, Pastor of the Picture Rocks Baptist Church, and Tom Brokaw of the Hughesville Baptist Church. The service was held at the Friends Church, 137 S. Street, Hughesville.

Pastor Uppling said, “Volunteerism is the highest honor one can offer to their community. We respect those who step up, and today we memorialize and honor their service which empowers us to greater service in our communities. We honor the commitment of those who gave a life of service putting everything at risk. God goes with you when you fight the good fight.”

Pastor Brokaw represented the East Lycoming Ministerium. His theme, “Standing in the Gap,” he referred to the Bible where written in the book of Ezekiel, God looked for someone to stand in the gap in saving Jerusalem from destruction.

In a broader sense, the pastor said, “Fire fighters stand in the gap in times of need. Doing the jobs others won’t or can’t do, such as the September flood of 2011. Your work and my work aren’t that far apart. There are encouraging times when we’re moving and the adrenaline is running versus when standing still in boredom and criticism. I encourage you to continue to stand in the gap.”

CAROL SHETLER/The Luminary Participants in the Firefighters Memorial Service were (left to right): bell ringer, Nathan Kilgus; placing flags, Brandon and Aaron Woodside; and reader, Gerald Corbin.

Of the 56 fire fighters deceased during the past year, Eugene Kiessling of Montoursville resided nearest to our readership area. All represented the 28 counties of the Central District of the Volunteer Firemens Association in the heart of Pennsylvania.

As bagpiper Ryan Shaver of State College played ‘Amazing Grace,’ names were read by Gerald Corbin of Hollidaysburg, Central District Secretary. During a pause following each name, a fire bell was rung by Nathan Kilgus, as Brandon and Aaron Woodside, all of Hughesville, placed in a holder, a gold flag. Families of the deceased were there to retrieve their firefighter’s flag following the service. Taps was played by 11th grade Hughesville High School band trumpeter, Dillan Eisenhard.

In addition to Kilgus and the Woodside brothers, other Hughesville Fire Department members taking part in the service were: President Neal Winder, Chief Steve Stiger, and Department Lieutenant Bryan Boyer.

Opening and closing prayers were offered by Matt McGovern, Family Life Pastor at Hughesville Friends Church, and Pastor Jane O’Borski of Christ United Methodist Church.

Musical selections were played by nine members of the Christ United Methodist Bell Choir directed by Linda Stiemling.

On the Sunday following the convention, HFD president Winder reported weather had cooperated. Showers had held off until the finale, a late Saturday afternoon parade through town, after which a rainbow capped off the conclusion of the convention.