Messiah Lutheran Church celebrates 150 years
CLARKSTOWN – The Messiah Lutheran Church at Clarkstown hosted a celebration marking its 150th anniversary. In the churchyard, more than 200 persons gathered under a tent for a worship service followed by a catered meal. The welcome was given by Laura Marsh VanDine who spearheaded the event along with a committee who spent a year in the planning phase.
Host pastor, the Rev. Beverly Cotner introduced guest participants. They included Bishop Robert Driesen, former Pastor Kathleen Shuck, and Pastor Connie Waugh of the Clarkstown United Methodist Church.
Bishop Driesen’s remarks centered around the Lutheran congregation’s infancy saying, “The founders couldn’t have foreseen all that would happen when they gathered in a school house in 1866.” To the current adherents he said, “I rejoice with you at reaching this milestone and challenge you to respond to God’s call in this community.”
Pastor Shuck, who had served the church from 1994 through 2004, recalled one of the many personal messages collected when she moved to Sandusky, Ohio. The message was attributed to Paul McCoy who wrote, “We will continue to serve our God without you.” And indeed, Shuck emphasized that this is ‘God’s Church.’ “I will always hold you in my heart and my prayers,” the former pastor said.
Pastor Connie Waugh of the Clarkstown Methodist Church said, “Finding common ground is alive and well here in Clarkstown. Although our two churches sit very close together, we are not exactly alike. Historically our two denominations have different founders and different backgrounds. We worship in different buildings and are responsible to different leaderships. But I think our primary goal has always been the same: to proclaim Jesus Christ to a world that is in great need of the Good News of the Gospel message.”
Pastor Waugh went on to say, “In times past, we have worked together with Sunday School, VBS and the Boy Scouts Venture Crew. We have a joint Sunday evening Thanksgiving service, and light the community Christmas tree. When we Methodists plan something, someone always says they’ll alert the folks next door in case they’d like to take part.”
Referring to the joint effort to reach souls for Christ, Pastor Waugh concluded, “By the grace of God, with the love we have in Jesus Christ, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, we will continue to do so.”
The choir’s anthem, “My Mother’s Bible,” was sung by Patti Fairchild, Alice Girven, Polly Hess, Barb Womelsdorf, Rev. Cotner, Jim Girven, Dick Lloyd, John Rushoe and Ed Shrimp. Music was provided by Nancy Hodge and Dick Lloyd.
Congregational hymns included “Shall We Gather at the River,” “Lift High the Cross,” and “Rise Up O Saints of God.”
Longtime members recognized included Frances and Dean Spring, Janet Confer, Iva and Paul McCoy and Loretta Johnson.
Following the guest speakers, host pastor, the Rev. Beverly Cotner, referred to a plan to install a fast moving rail service between Los Angeles and San Francisco. It would attain speeds of 600 miles per hour. She likened the proposal to a tube at the bank drive-thru where suction channels deposits to the teller. “Transportation does not equal transformation; transformation takes time,” she said.
To support her point, the pastor referenced many individuals in the Bible who were transformed over a long period of time. Among the examples were the Israelites and their 40-year journey in the desert before reaching the promised land. She said that, “Once there, the Israelites waited on God for the taking of Jericho.” The downfalls of David and Samson were recounted. “Despite their dysfunctions, God used these flawed heroes to work through His plan. The weight of sin slows us down. We must have patience and perseverance, one cannot be used without the other,” she said.
A time of recognition and dedication was given to donors and those memorialized by tree plantings. They were Patty Peterman in memory of Stephen Peterman; Dean and Frances Spring in memory of Thomas Spring; Janet and Ray Confer in memory of Michael V. Confer and Leslie Brown Confer; Barbara and Gary Schwenk in memory of Ruth and Earl Kilgus and Grace and Ray Schwenk; Barbara and Gary Womelsdorf in memory of Zella and Russell Womelsdorf.
Also dedicated was a stained glass window given in honor of Iva and Paul McCoy. The seven donors were their children, Donna Fought, Eva Tuttle, Vicki Trausam, Michael, Shawn, Shane McCoy and Kelley Dewald. The combined McCoy family totaled 33 in attendance including the youngest, four-month-old Evelyn, daughter of Matt and Ella Fought Martin of Wolf Township.
The window consisting of 400 pieces of stained glass was installed above the side doorway to the basement. Crafted by Watsontown Glass, its design was conceived by son-in-law, Jay Tuttle of Pasadena, CA.
Tuttle’s wife Eva said, “We were visiting with my mom and the quilters on a trip home. Jay, an architect by occupation, noted the blank space above the double doors and contemplated a recreation of ‘The Lord’s Supper.’ As it is the entrance to the basement where church suppers are served, it couldn’t be more appropriate.” Eva was also quick to share, “My sister Vicki was the project manager, collecting money and working with the glass company.”
Those attending the 150th anniversary included church members and families who relocated, such as Mariah Peterman Gunderson and daughter Mia Rose of Leesburg, VA. Also, in attendance were well-wishers from the neighboring Methodist Church, St. Andrew Lutheran Church of Pennsdale, Muncy’s St. Andrew Lutheran Church and St. Marks Church of Lairdsville.