Greenbrier Baptist Church will celebrate an accomplishment on Sunday, May 15. During the 11 a.m. service, congregation members plan to acknowledge paying off the loan on their recent expansion project.
Pastor George Snyder will lead the congregation's celebration.
"It was an expansion to put in a whole new Sunday School wing, a kitchen and social hall and remodel the sanctuary," he said. "It cost about $200,000. The mortgage was paid in a little more than three years."
Snyder praised Greenbrier's previous pastor, the Rev. David Coblentz for initiating and overseeing the building project. Snyder accepted a call to lead the church in November, upon Coblentz's retirement, just as the final mortgage payment was made.
For Snyder, becoming pastor of Greenbrier was a return to his spiritual home. Now 59, he had first joined Greenbrier Baptist Church as a deacon 22 years ago. Among other duties, he worked with the youth group. Then, in 1997, he received his ordination at Greenbrier.
Snyder had worked in food service management for 24 years with Ponderosa-Rustler-Sizzler. When the company closed its East Coast operations, Snyder was without a job. He felt God calling him into the ministry.
"I've always felt a calling into the ministry," he said. "Seemed like the Lord was closing all the other doors for me."
After ordination, Snyder served churches in Knoxville, Md., Sharpsburg and Hagerstown before returning to Greenbrier in November.
He likes his new church's location — at the corner of two busy highways, U.S. 40 and Md. 66 — for getting his message of salvation before as many people as possible. The church's expansion will help meet the needs of members.
But Snyder acknowledged the problems facing churches today.
"One of the biggest challenges is keeping people interested," he said. "A pastor is not supposed to entertain, but you should have something new and exciting."
Another challenge is the doughnut-hole demographics of church membership.
"You either have the extreme old or the extreme young," he said. "Sometimes the parents of the children don't come, but the children come."
Snyder said he had a successful youth program when he served Greenbrier as deacon 20 years ago. Now, he wants to bring those grown-up youths back into the church.
"I'm seeing the children of the youth group members," he said. "I'm trying to get that youth group back — they're in their 30s now."
It's all part of the day-to-day work of a pastor, Snyder said. But he views challenges as he approached paying off the mortgage. With faith.
"When you put your faith behind it, everything is possible," he said.