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Grace Lutheran Church, Hatfield, Pa.

Reflection on a Dedication

On Sunday, February 26, 2017, The Dedication of our New and Renewed Church Home was celebrated at Grace. It was a wonderful day and a culmination of years of hard work, sacrifice, and flexibility by our congregation.  I would like to share some of my feelings and perspectives from the day.

First, we had a celebration that included many members of Grace but it was also very much a community event. Our community present extended through and beyond our Hatfield and Lutheran boundaries.   Our Bishop Claire Burkat attended and preached, representing our Synod and the whole Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.  About a dozen of my fellow Lutheran pastors were there.  One local pastor, Rev. Glenn Lambert, even served in the nursery!  Members of the former Grace Lutheran Church, Bethlehem, who gave us the single largest gift which was provided to us when they liquidated the assets of their congregation as it closed, came and were gratefully recognized.  We also could not have gotten through the last five years without the help of Plains Mennonite Church, St. Maria Goretti Roman Catholic Church, and the Lutheran Community at Telford for giving us space for our church and education ministry.

Two young men from the Hatfield Fire Company attended in their dress uniforms. Our congregation also has members of the fire company and Ladies Auxiliary.  When I offered my remarks, I acknowledged the fire company and other emergency first responders first.  They were the first on the scene.  They saved the building that is our Sanctuary and office area so that it could be refurbished and the new addition attached to it.  They saved the neighborhood, including the Wagner House our church owns next door, and our nearby neighbors on the other side.  Their hard work and sacrifice even on a holiday (The church fire was on New Year’s Eve, 2011) made our transition much easier.

Other speakers were our principal architects, Mike O’Rourke and Sandy Szabo; Penn Builder representatives, Jon Swartley and Jim Trauger; Building Team chair Ken Seiler; and  Congregation Council President during the construction period, Frank Stone, Jr.  There were others who were involved in the last five years that I would have loved to have also spoke, but time did not allow.  My one great sadness was that Steve Swartley, the President of Penn Builders, was unable to be with us to speak and be recognized.  Steve took great interest in our building from the start, provided the low bid, and allowed his expertise and faith to shine throughout the project.  Steve died and fully claimed his baptismal promise from cancer just a few days after the dedication.  Thank you Steve!

And oh, the music!  Mark Dimick, a native of Hatfield,  served as our organist and our Director of Music, Ken Delmar, was our choir director.  We had a choir of over 40 voices who sang to two grand pieces, “The Old One Hundredth” by Ralph Von Williams and Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” from the oratorio, “The Messiah”.  Choir members came from our neighboring Hatfield churches, the Lutheran Churches of the Indian Valley Cluster, and a couple members of my former congregation, St. Andrew’s Lutheran in Perkasie.  We had brass, flutes and Calvary Korean Church’s band providing music before the service and during the Communion Distribution.

Our facility is now nearly complete. We are learning to live in it and how be a welcoming presence both in and outside of it.  The children and staff at Stepping Stones provide loving day care and preschool ministry every weekday.  We welcome you to join us in this faithful venture.  We are blessed and know we are blessed to be a blessing.

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