Chambersburg church dedicates addition

March 04, 2002|BY STACEY DANZUSO

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - With a growing congregation and increasing numbers of outreach ministries, members of the Central Presbyterian Church realized five years ago they would have to find a way to accommodate their expanding mission.

Hundreds of church and community members gathered Sunday to dedicate a 25,000-square-foot addition to the church on Chambersburg's Memorial Square and celebrated with food, music, tours and the burial of three time capsules.

Construction over the former fellowship hall and parking spaces behind the church took a little more than a year. The new space is four stories high with offices, classrooms and a new "friendship hall" that doubles as a basketball court for youths.

"I'm like a kid with a new toy," Mary Kanarr said as she toured the new facility, which was completed last month.


"It's so exciting. We were really squeezed in before," said Kanarr, a parish nurse who also worked on the building and fund-raising committees.

The Mother's Day Out ministry and nursery school was the first to move into the addition.

The three-day-a-week program for children ages 9 months to 5 years, takes up the top floor. It has room to break up the children into more age-appropriate groups and will expand to a five-day-a-week program this fall, according to Program Director Kathy Klink.

"We knew five years ago we needed a larger fellowship hall and recreation area and extra space to add other services," the Rev. Ed Morgan said.

The first part of the project was to renovate the second-floor sanctuary with its 100-year-old Tiffany stained-glass windows in 1999, Kanarr said.

The church then moved forward with its plan to increase services to its 500-member congregation and the Chambersburg community by buying four other downtown buildings.

The church now owns the adjacent Unitas Bank building and the former Abbott building at 19 S. Main St.

That was renovated to create a Wholeness Center, with domestic, legal and counseling services among the eight offices inside, Morgan said.

The church also purchased two buildings opposite Lincoln Way West. It has already torn down one to make more space for parking, and used the other as storage and classroom space while construction was going on, Morgan said.

The construction and renovation project at the church cost $2.3 million and will be paid for by donations from the congregation, community and endowment, Morgan said.

Some local businesses helped out the church by pitching in on the cost of the new buildings, he said.

Morgan said finding new ways to expand the church at its current location has preserved Central Presbyterian's history while contributing to the revitalization of downtown Chambersburg.

Central Presbyterian Church was built in 1869 on the site of the former Franklin Hotel, which was burned by Confederate troops during the Civil War.

The church itself also endured three fires, including one in 1938 that forced members to almost completely rebuild it.

Only the steeple and a Bible on the pulpit survived unharmed, Kanarr said.

A time capsule created during that reconstruction, one from a 1968 addition and a new one were placed behind a memorial stone facing Lincoln Way West following Sunday's service.

The 2002 capsule included a church bulletin, before and after photos of the construction and a list of church members. It also included items of national importance, including an American flag, newspaper articles about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and Olympic stamps, Kanarr said.

She said the three copper boxes are each about the size of a shoe box.

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