HOLLIDAYSBURG - First Presbyterian Church of Hollidaysburg will celebrate its history as it looks to the future at a celebration dinner being held April 14.
"The dinner is to celebrate the life of the church - past, present and future," said Chuck Monts, pastor of the church.
Among the members who will take place in the celebration is Sean McClanahan.
(Courtesy photo) Sean McClanahan, a member of First Presbyterian Church of Hollidaysburg, and his children (from left) Lexi, twins Sam and Makenzie and Madison look at a book telling the history of the church.
He was baptized in the church and remembers being active in children's choir, the bell choir and children's plays growing up.
Sean and his wife, Diane, are members of the church and attend with their four children. Sean said First Presbyterian gives the children a place to know God and members of the congregation.
"They get a sense of belonging to a higher being," he said.
For him, First Presbyterian offers stability. He said church is a place where he finds peace and can center himself after a hectic work week.
"It always has a welcoming feel," he said. "Whether you are new or attended for a long time, the members make you feel welcome. In many aspects, it's like a large family."
The church can trace its roots to 1788 when it was known as the Presbyterian Church of Frankstown. Its name was changed to Hollidaysburg because it was about three-fourth of a mile north of Frankstown.
Monts said according to church history, members originally met in a tent and built a round log church in 1790 in what is now the old section of the Presbyterian Cemetery.
Worship began in the present sanctuary on Dec. 31, 1871, with an accompanying chapel being finished in 1870.
The church history claims that within the sanctuary's cornerstone is a time capsule. The church wanted to recover it for the event, but a search by a local masonry business turned up nothing.
The celebration is being held to launch a capital campaign to refurbish the 140-year-old structure.
"It's sorta like a pep rally as we prepare to kick-off a capital campaign for needed repairs and renovations to the church," Monts said. "It is the first capital campaign for major renovations in decades."
An estimated $300,000 over the next three to five years is needed to pay for two recently installed furnaces, to repair stained glass windows and water damage in the foundation, to renovate three bathrooms and to replace floors in the education wing that was added in 1969.
Monts said that in the 1870s, the church cost $85,000 to build.
"It's current replacement value is now estimated at nearly $7.5 million," he said.