2 Sunbury churches united
- SUNBURY — Two city churches, already united by faith, became united in being Sunday. Albright United Methodist Church and St. John’s United Methodist Church came together as Faith United Methodist Church, after a formal “service of departure” at the Albright building at Fifth and Chestnut streets. The Rev. Ron Troup, who has been pastor of both churches since July and will be pastor of the new church, said there were about 50 people at Albright for the 9 a.m. service. He and the Rev. Dr. Thomas Salsgiver, the Lewisburg District superintendent of the United Methodist Church, led both services.
“Certainly there were some tears and sadness at the departure,” Troup said. “But we had been anticipating this day, preparing ourselves for this. It certainly was an emotional day.”
The group left the church carrying the brass cross, the candlesticks, the communion table covering and the pulpit Bible. The communion table was transported by truck because of its size.
Also, a church acolyte lit a lantern with the flame from candles in the church and carried it, symbolizing the Holy Spirit, as well as the spirit and faith of the congregation.
The group was met in Cameron Park, about half-way between the two buildings, by a “sizable” crowd from St. John’s, and together they walked two more blocks to gather for the first time as Faith United.
All told, there were about 100 at the 10:15 service at the building at Second and Arch streets, Troup said.
The congregations had been discussing a merger for more than a year, as each struggled with rising maintenance costs and weekly attendance of about 40 each.
Albright, founded 147 years ago as First Evangelical Church, and St. John’s, founded 219 years ago as St. John’s Methodist Episcopal Church, each served hundreds of congregants each Sunday at their peaks.
An architect determined the St. John’s building was in better shape and had more amenities for the new congregation.
The spirit of hope and joy overcame the sadness felt by departing the old place, Troup said.
“Certainly it was a day that had taken a lot of careful preparation and discussions,” he said. “Obviously, without the willingness of people to consider new things, to take a hard look at where they are and where they could be, it was truly an act of faith.”
January 2, 2011
Faith United Methodist Church • 203 Arch Street Sunbury, PA 17801 • (570) 286-6301