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Pa. church organization celebrates golden anniversary

May 07, 2010|By JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. -- Through song, dance and prayer, the United Churches of the Chambersburg Area celebrated its 50th anniversary on Thursday and praised God for the ministries the organization can offer.

Thirty-five churches are members of the organization and contribute for programs like jail and hospital chaplainships, rental assistance, and help for funeral costs. They also host worship services for occasions such as Good Friday and the anniversaries of Sept. 11, 2001.

Now, the United Churches of the Chambersburg Area is starting a chaplain initiative in cooperation with the Chambersburg Police Department.

The Rev. Matthew Richardson from Central Presbyterian Church will serve in the role, according to the Rev. Jeffrey Diller of Zion Reformed United Church of Christ.

"He attended a regional chaplain training program two weeks ago," Diller said.

Police Chief David Arnold had experience working with a chaplain in another department where he was employed. He and Mayor Pete Lagiovane approached the United Churches about launching a similar initiative in Chambersburg.

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Richardson can help not only the officers, but also the families of someone who has died or people involved in a domestic dispute, Diller said. Further details about the role will be developed in coming weeks, he said.

"The idea of working together as church communities and the synagogue has great appeal," said the Rev. Dr. Bill Harter, of Presbyterian Church of the Falling Spring.

The Rev. Dr. Paul Baker, who retired from King Street United Brethren Church, served as the keynote speaker for Thursday's dinner celebration. He worked with the United Churches from its early days.

The United Churches developed through a ministerium in which only pastors were members.

"There came a realization we needed to involve laypersons," Baker said.

The organization has grown in participation and volunteerism over the years, allowing the community to benefit from an organized effort with assistance, he said.

Baker described a "spirit of cooperation" with "churches working together to meet the needs of people."

The United Churches maintains an "emergency clearinghouse" through the Salvation Army, according to the Rev. Dr. Paul Yeun, president of the organization. He described his position as president as the most rewarding post in his three decades in ministry.

"We demonstrate the love of God in our actions," he said. "We become the hands and feet of the Lord."

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