Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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April 6, 2013

Church of God congregation celebrating 150th year

SYRACUSE — After 150 consecutive years of worship, the congregation of The Church of God in Syracuse, will host a celebration of the anniversary.

The congregation dates to 1863 and the church building was started in 1866 and finished in 1867. It still stands in the same location at 104 E. Washington St., with only minor changes. It is the oldest continually functioning church in town and although the steeple is a bit shorter from weathering and wear over the years, the worship there is still as strong as ever.  

Pastor Stan Owen and his wife Cindy were called to The Church of God in October 2012. The welcome that they received made them feel right at home, Cindy said.

Although their time with the church has been short, they understand that the history within the sanctuary’s walls is nothing short of great. When Pastor Stan was describing the time that has passed in the 150-year-old church, he said the aesthetics may have changed, but the love and faith has not.

Elder George Thomas started the church in 1863. He began with a fellowship of 40 members, which is just shy of the 50 members that belong today. Elder J. Shock took over for Thomas and began construction on the building in 1866. The construction took place on land donated by Joseph H. DeFrees. Timber was provided by church member Charles H. Strombeck and Charles V. Smith donated his time and handiwork.

Anniversary event

The festivities will be kicked off April 13 with an open house from 1 to 3 p.m. There will be archives displays, videos and snacks. A time capsule will be put together with anything items the attending members want to add to it. A young boy is planning ahead and writing a letter to himself. He is 11 years old and will read the letter when future church members will open the capsule in 50 years.

There will be a remembrance service from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in which anyone is welcome to share their memories of the church during an open-mic session. From 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. there will be a pulled pork dinner and from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. a worship service to round off the evening. The worship service will include past pastors of the church and there will be an old-fashioned hymn sing with songs dating back 150 years.

Events on the following day, April 14 will begin at 9 a.m. with a fellowship hour and a bell-ringing ceremony where the church bell will ring 150 times. The celebration will conclude with a worship service starting at 10:15 a.m. Director of the Churches of God General Conference, Ed Rosenberry, will be a featured guest both days and will also be the keynote speaker during the Sunday morning worship service.

Memorabilia will be displayed in the library, which will temporarily be turned into a museum. Collectables, including a quilt that was donated to the church more than 100 years ago, will be available for everyone to see during the open house. A compilation DVD of the earliest photographs all the way up until today’s pictures will be played during the event. Church members have also put together a book on the history of the sanctuary that will be available to the public.

A celebration of an anniversary this great brings much history and planning with it. “This is a fantastic church, we know that the lord has something great in store,” Pastor Owen said when speaking of the outcome they expect to receive with this event.

Child care and children’s events will be included. The event is open to church members as well as the community. Pulled pork dinner and snacks are complimentary.

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