Parishioners at Trinity Lutheran Church in Juniata are big believers in God's perfect timing, especially after receiving a gift of 30 pews when they needed them the most.
Tom Bradley, Trinity Lutheran Church council president, said the pews were a gift from the Faith Brethren Bible Church in New Paris.
"This is really amazing," Bradley said. "We're an active, well-attended church, but not blessed with a high income so we have to be pretty frugal."
(Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec) Members of Trinity Lutheran Church, 408 N. Sixth St., have updated their sanctuary with new carpet and used pews that were an unexpected gift from Faith Brethren Bible Church in New Paris.
Bradley said Trinity Lutheran was faced with a problem when it was decided new carpeting was needed in the sanctuary, but moving the 100-year-old pews could cause them to fall apart. Three years ago, one of the pews broke during a Christmas Eve service, he said.
While Trinity Lutheran was deciding what to do about the pews, Faith Brethren Bible Church was in the process of building an addition to its sanctuary. The church needed 42 more pews in addition to the 30 it already had.
The only problems was the new pews would not complement the ones the church already had.
The Rev. Jim Espenshade, pastor of Faith Brethren, said that while the pews were in excellent shape, they had been built in the '70s, and the original material was no longer available.
"We knew we'd need to get new pews," he said.
Espenshade said a plumber working on the addition asked him what Faith Brethren planned to do with the old pews.
"He said his wife's church was looking for pews," Espenshade said.
The plumber's wife attends Trinity Lutheran.
Espenshade contacted Mondon Smith, Trinity's property committee chairman, and offered to give Trinity the pews.
Smith said he and committee member Joe Luciano looked at the pews and liked what they saw.
While awaiting a vote from the congregation, the pews were put in storage for a few months in an old theater building belonging to Trinity, Smith said.
The new pews were approved by the congregation in October and on Nov. 1, church members cleared the old pews and carpet, which was recycled for use in different parishioners' homes.
"The week before Christmas, the new carpet was installed as well as the pews," Bradley said. "The 30 cushioned pews are 25 years old, but in mint condition. It was truly a gift from God, the way we see it."
The Rev. Elizabeth Hess, pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, called the new pews beautiful but said the best thing about Faith Brethren Bible Church's gift to Trinity isn't the pews.
"It was just a really neat connection," Hess said, "that connection of helping one another, although we're different denominations."
Hess said Trinity's old pews haven't ended up on the scrap heap.
"All of our old pews have found homes," she said, referring to members of the congregation who have adopted them. "I have one. It's in a sunroom I have in my home. It's really neat to have a piece of Trinity there."