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Harrisburg ELCA Congregation Gives Building to Coptic Orthodox Church

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  • frjohnbrian@priest.com
    Title: Harrisburg ELCA Congregation Gives Building to Coptic Orthodox Church ELCA NEWS SERVICE December 31, 2009 Harrisburg ELCA Congregation Gives Building to
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 31, 2009
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      Title: Harrisburg ELCA Congregation Gives Building to Coptic Orthodox Church
      ELCA NEWS SERVICE

      December 31, 2009

      Harrisburg ELCA Congregation Gives Building to Coptic Orthodox Church
      09-287-BM*

      HARRISBURG, Pa. (ELCA) -- An Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
      (ELCA) congregation here is breathing new life into its church building by
      moving out and turning its facilities over to a congregation of another
      denomination.
      Following its worship service of carols and a celebration luncheon Dec.
      27, Memorial Evangelical Lutheran Church gave its building as a gift to St.
      Mark Coptic Orthodox Church.
      This Sunday, Jan. 3, Memorial's members will worship at the James E.
      Morecraft Christian Education Building, owned by the congregation and
      directly across the street from the Memorial's former sanctuary. The
      congregation normally worships during the winter months at the Christian
      education building to conserve energy. However, it won't return to the
      sanctuary on Palm Sunday, which has been Memorial's practice, said the Rev.
      Rochelle E. Lewis, pastor.
      Faced with declining membership and a large building to maintain,
      members of Memorial voted in August to begin transition talks with St.
      Mark Church.
      "When we as a congregation began to speak about the choices we would
      need to make in order to continue doing ministry on the corners of State and
      17th Street, we knew we did not have the resources, physical ability or
      money to keep the sanctuary from becoming an albatross or a dying weight,"
      Lewis said.
      Trustees of the congregation explored a number of options, including
      merging with another Lutheran congregation. Ultimately, however, the
      decision was made to give the building as a gift to St. Mark Church.
      "We are still invited to celebrate our life passages in the sanctuary
      of the church building where so many of Memorial's faithful have begun in
      the waters of Baptism, shared in the love of Christ as a bride and groom,
      and at the last, came home to begin the journey of eternal life," said
      Lewis.
      Following a luncheon hosted by members of St. Mark Church for
      Memorial's members, the Rev. B. Penrose Hoover, bishop of the ELCA Lower
      Susquehanna Synod, and Father Jacob Nadian, priest of St. Mark Church, led a
      transition service Dec. 27.
      "There will be a vibrant young and growing congregation of people of
      faith ... in the church where so many faithful saints of the Lutheran Church
      have started," said Lewis.
      "The sanctuary will once again have the physical care (it) demands.
      There will be babies in the nursery, children in the Sunday school rooms,
      women and men in the social hall and kitchen, loving and sharing in the
      communion of fellowship and hospitality in the church where so many of the
      lives of faithful Lutherans began," she said.
      Reflecting on the long-time members of Memorial, Lewis said she is
      proud of the "valiant" members of the congregation. "The difficult
      decisions they have made is a testament of faith and living in God's
      promise. The strength to be able to let go of the brick and mortar they had
      labored so fiercely over is beyond basic understanding," she said.
      ---
      * Barbara A. Myers is director for communication, ELCA Lower
      Susquehanna Synod, Harrisburg, Pa.

      For information contact:
      John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or news@...
      http://www.elca.org/news
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