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Parishioners break ground on new church

April 10, 2000|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - More than 50 parishioners from Trinity Lutheran Church stood in a cold, windy field south of Greencastle Sunday afternoon and watched as their pastor, a bishop and church leaders dug shovels into the ground to pave the way for their new church building.

"We've looked forward to this day," said the Rev. William DeHaas, church pastor.

The congregation of 130 members had until last fall called a 70-year-old edifice at 145 East Baltimore St. home. It will move into its new 6,000-square-foot church by the end of this year.

Craig Rockwell, of Rockwell Construction in Mercersburg, Pa., the general contractor, said construction will start later this month.

The frame building will be covered with brick veneer and will feature a sanctuary, offices and classroom space.

Trinity Lutheran was formed in 1927 as a breakaway group from Evangelical Lutheran Church on North Washington Street, one of the community's oldest congregations. It was founded in the late 18th century and recently underwent a major renovation and expansion.

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Members decided in 1997 that their East Baltimore Street church, built in 1928, could no longer serve their needs. About 65 percent of the church members live outside the borough, so the downtown location wasn't mandatory. Also, the basement did not lend itself to classroom use, the building was not handicapped-accessible and it could not meet the demands of a changing congregation.

Attendance had been dropping since the 1970s, and it was determined that the borough could no longer support two Lutheran churches.

While the church wanted to grow, new members were coming from fast-growing Antrim Township, which surrounds Greencastle. The township is growing fastest in the south along U.S. 11 down to the Maryland state line.

The church bought 11 acres off Jason Drive, a road being built to serve a new residential development off Williamsport Pike south of Greencastle. Right now the church property is at the end of the road, but that will change as more houses go up around and beyond it.

The old church was sold last fall to a Baltimore CPA who said he planned to turn it into a vacation home for his family.

The congregation will continue to gather in its temporary meeting house, Rescue Hose Co. No. 1's, while the new church is being built.

Participating in Sunday's ground breaking, in addition to DeHaas, was the Rev. Guy S. Edmiston Jr., bishop of the Lower Susquehanna Synod of the Lutheran Church, which is helping to finance the new church.

Also attending were other synod representatives, Rockwell, Congregation President Milt Siesky, Building Committee Chairman G. Leroy Wolfe and the Rev. LaDonna Thomas, DeHaas' predecessor as pastor.

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