Christ Church celebrates

Congregation marks 50 years in building

Houses of worship serve an important place in many people’s lives. And although the church is really the people and not the brick and mortar, it is the structure where they gather with like-minded believers to worship God.

The building holds memories, such as holiday celebrations, motivating Sunday messages or special music that speaks to the heart.

Christ Church of Roaring Spring is taking time to relive some of those memories and spend time with former members and pastors as the congregation celebrates 50 years in its building.

The anniversary event will begin at 10:30 a.m. Sunday at the church, 7524 Woodbury Pike, Roaring Spring. Among those attending the service will be two former pastors — the Rev. Maurice “Mauri” Smith and his wife, Terri, of the Pittsburgh area, and the Rev. Bruce Hankee and his wife, Janet, of Virginia. The pastors will participate in the service that will be followed by a light luncheon and a time to reminisce by looking at photos and other memorabilia.

The building was established in 1968 and before that, the members met in the house of worship now occupied by St. Thomas More Roman Catholic Church.

The Rev. Dr. Joel Kletzing, pastor of the church, said the congregation was established on Oct. 20, 1901, and the former church was completed in 1903. The current building was completed in 1968.

Kletzing said the sanctuary is unique in that its stained glass windows have a biblical theme associated with water in light of the church being in Roaring Spring.

He said windows on the north side of the church depict Old Testament scenes, including Noah’s ark, Elijah vs. the prophets of Baal and Jonah and the whale. The south side windows depict New Testament scenes including the baptism of Jesus, Christ turning water into wine and St. Paul’s shipwreck.

The entrance into the sanctuary consists of two glass doors with an etching of a crown of thorns that surrounds handles resembling spikes, reminders of the Crucifixion. Scenes from the liturgical year, including Pentecost, Advent and Easter, are etched in glass on either side of the door.

Above the altar is a 250-pound oak cross. It is made of beams from the home of Michael P. and Margaret Helsel Dick, great-grandparents of the late Clair M. Keith, who was a member of the congregation. It was hand-hewn into the cross by Paul Isenberg, who also was a member of the church. His daughter, June Keith, is a current member of the congregation. The wood is believed to be 150 years old.

Sunday school rooms and a fellowship hall also are part of the building and a picnic pavilion was added last year.

Kletzing said he believes a house of worship is important to church members because they identify with the meeting place.

“It’s a place for induction in God’s word and where the sacraments are celebrated,” he said.

It’s a place where they meet with other members of the church family and celebrate milestones, such as marriages and baptisms, he said.

The baptisms of her daughter and son at the church hold a special place in Jean Wilkinson’s heart, as does her daughter’s wedding. Although Jean and her husband, Gerald “Joe” of Roaring Spring were married at the former church, they renewed their vows for their 50th wedding anniversary at the Woodbury Pike site.

Wilkinson said her daughter, Tammy, was president of the senior youth fellowship there at the same time that their son, Scott, was president of the junior youth fellowship years ago.

Joe was a deacon for many years, and Jean was very active in the E-Z Workers Sunday school class that provided dinners for funerals and held breakfasts for graduates. Several of the women compiled a cookbook with proceeds used to buy drapes for the Sunday school rooms and fellowship hall. In addition, for 10 years she and Joe delivered flowers and well-wishes to people who were sick or hospitalized.

Jean continues to serve as she will be among those providing the luncheon at the 50th anniversary celebration.

To help bring back the memories, Bev and Dan Smith of Glasgow have been displaying memorabilia in the church narthex since the summer and changed the displays every two weeks. All the posters will be displayed in the fellowship hall on Sunday. A directory with pictures of friends and members of the church also has been produced.

Bev mentioned other unique aspects of the church including its 1939 pipe organ and its bell tower which plays music every Sunday morning and throughout the week.

The Smiths, who formerly owned a dairy farm in Roaring Spring, have been members of the church for 14 years. Although they now travel 35 miles one way to worship, they continue to attend Christ Church because it is where they gather with friends who place Christ at the center of their lives, Bev said.

“It’s very special, very sacred,” Jean Wilkinson said of Christ Church. “You get a warm, embracing feeling when you enter the sanctuary.”