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Church thriving, growing in HotSpot

March 27, 2000|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

For years, members of King's Apostle Holiness Church of God in Hagerstown attended services and gatherings in cramped quarters.

On Sunday, a ground-breaking was held for a 12,000-square-foot expansion to the building to accommodate its overflowing congregation. About 200 church members attended services and then stayed for the celebration.

The Rev. Derek Kee said the expansion of the 45-year-old church is long overdue

"The Lord has blessed our church with a growing congregation and we want to make them comfortable," said Kee.

The $180,000 construction project includes putting on a new roof, extending the building forward and building multi-purpose rooms and a basement. It is expected to take 3 1/2 months to complete.

During that time, church services will be held at Bethel Gardens' Community Center, said Kee.

Adding offices and Sunday school rooms to the rear of the building are also in Kee's plans, he said.

The church took out a $200,000 loan and held two fund drives to finance the construction and furnish the new section. Members and friends of the church donated $30,000 to the fund, he said.

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The 70-year-old church started on Jonathan Street in 1930, moved to the 100 block of West Bethel Street - across the street from its present spot - and wound up at 125 W. Bethel St.

The project will be the first major upgrade to the building since the church moved there, said Kee.

The work will be done by Paul E. Lehman Inc. of Chambersburg, Pa.

Kee said his church and others are important because they can strengthen and unify the community.

"Ministry is essential considering all the problems and circumstances in the HotSpot," he said. HotSpot is an area designated by the state for special attention because of its high crime rate.

Church-goer Lulu Harris is the oldest living member of the church who attended services at all three locations.

Harris said she has warm memories of attending church on Jonathan Street and singing in the choir.

"I sold pies and bought bricks," to raise funds for church building projects, she said.

Now 86 years old, Harris no longer sings but teaches Sunday school.

Harris said she wouldn't miss attending the groundbreaking and being a part of the celebration.

Although not a member of the King's Apostle Holy Church, Hagerstown Funeral Director Gerald Minnich said he was glad to lend his financial support to such a worthwhile project.

Minnich said he is encouraged by the unity the families and church demonstrate.

"It's healthy for the community," he said.

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