CLARKS SUMMIT - Since 2008, four United Methodist churches -Newton, Ransom, Milwaukee and Schultzville - dreamed of one day coming together to form a unified congregation.
For four years, they organized themselves as the Vision Forward movement and conducted workshops to develop a new church building. After a successful, three-year, financial capital campaign, which raised more than $600,000 and a 17-acre land donation made by Keith Eckel of Eckel Farms, construction of the new church building is complete. It is called Countryside Community Church.
It's a labor of love, said Donna Urbaniak, chairperson of the trustees and Ransom resident. This building is going to allow us to fulfill our mission statement, which is to develop hearts for God in a spirit-filled community and to spread God's love and grace throughout the world.
Built on a hill along Orchard Drive in Newton Twp, the church offers views of Bald Mountain and the surrounding countryside. It was crafted with site work by individuals wanting to assist in the church's mission.
In the past four years, Countryside Community Church sold three of the four member church buildings and one parsonage and moved into the former Newton United Methodist Church until the new building was completed. Construction began in Fall, 2011 and continued throughout the end of 2011 until the sanctuary's completion in August, 2012.
Our mission was to build a building, and we accomplished that, and we continue to build the church, said Warren Raker, trustee and church member from South Abington Township.
Countryside Community Church conducted its first service in the new building Sept. 2 with more than 160 people in attendance.
I think the most important thing, just like we hope, is seeing new people. And we have seen a significant increase and are looking for more, said Keith Eckel.
The church employs the latest in energy saving and user-friendly equipment. A stained-glass window, originally from Ransom's church is prominent in the service room, which features TV monitors for the choir facing the opposite side of the tabernacles.
A chapel wing, donated by church member Ed Carr, includes a prayer wall, where people can write their prayer requests. The main entrance features an overhead canopy for inclement weather.
Church member Ron Imdorf mentioned that members shared suggestions for the church in the planning stages.
Our church is very active under the leadership of our pastor, Rev. Dr. Jean Pierre Duncan, in providing mission support, ministries that enrich our lives through prayer and educational groups, outreach programs, outstanding music and fellowship rich ‘fun'(d)raisers, said Imdorf. In the process of completion are a basement social hall, Sunday school classrooms and choir rooms. On Nov. 3, more than 30 volunteers unloaded two tractor trailers of items for the basement social hall. The hall will be used for the church's turkey dinner, normally hosted in mid-October but was postponed to April 13.
We have a lot of mission work going on and new groups being formed. There's a lot happening, said Falls Twp resident Karen Rickaby, treasurer/secretary of the church,
Countryside Community Church invites the public to share in the Spirit-led mission in Northeastern Pa.. Sunday school takes place at 9 a.m. with service at 10 a.m. For more information, go to www.countryside-church.org. An Open House is in the works.
Said Pastor Jean-Pierre Duncan. We're blessed by many strong leaders, visionaries and faithful believers, who really want the church to be a model of the kingdom of God. That's our vision.