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Pews filled for Christmas service at Pa. church

December 04, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - More than 100 people filled the pews in Harbaugh Reformed Church on Sunday for the Waynesboro Historical Society's annual Christmas Candlelight Service.

"This is as many as we've ever had," event organizer Mary Jane Weagly said. "People come from all over the area."

With nearly every seat filled, several people stood in the back of the sanctuary while the rector of Waynesboro's St. Mary's Episcopal Church delivered a message and a bell choir from Rouzerville United Methodist Church led hymns and carols.

The original Harbaugh Reformed Church opened in 1847 on the property southeast of Waynesboro, but the congregation outgrew the structure and built a new church in 1892. Named in honor of Dr. Henry Harbaugh, the church has been owned by the historical society since 1983 and hosts special events.

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Cousins Alice Myers and Carmen Lawson, both of Maryland, visited the church for the first time.

"We are direct descendants of Henry Harbaugh," Myers said. "I'm glad they restored it."

"It's lovely," Lawson echoed.

The annual holiday service draws people who attended the church regularly when it was still an active congregation.

"This is my church," said Dolores Flaugher of Rouzerville. "I was a member here for years."

She said she has attended the Christmas service for about 25 years and feels connected to late family members who had attended the church.

"It gives me a feeling of being close with them," Flaugher said.

The service is essentially the same as it was more than 20 years ago when first hosted by the historical society, President David A. McCarney said.

"It follows the same theme, but it changes slightly year to year," he said.

Weagly said she connected with the Rev. Linda Watkins, who is new to Waynesboro, through someone on the service's organizing committee. The historical society has for a long time featured a bell choir, Weagly said.

Adam Slemmer, 10, of Waynesboro, has been a member of Rouzerville United Methodist Church's bell choir for four years. The most challenging part at first was learning to read music, he said.

"Now that I've been in it a while, I don't really need help," Adam said.

His favorite song is "Come On, Ring Those Bells," which elicited applause from the crowd.

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