The Lighthouse Keeper

Greetings from Pastor Kerry, former pastor of Spring City UMC. This blog contains my sermon outlines and/or manuscripts from my pastorate among the people of Spring City PA, from 2006 to 2011. Pastor Dennis is now the lighthouse keeper. Come and worship on Sundays at 10:00 a.m.!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Happy Anniversary

November 15, 2009
Twenty-fourth Sunday after the Pentecost

On the One Hundredth Anniversary of a Building
1 Corinthians 3:9-13, 16-17 and 1 Peter 2:5

Note: My church’s current building was built in two phases: a gray stone Sunday School Auditorium (with balcony) was built in 1909, attached to a brownstone sanctuary that had been built in 1873. In 1922/23 the brownstone sanctuary was torn down and an attached gray stone sanctuary (phase two) was completed.
The Sunday School Auditorium was dedicated on November 14, 1909.
We held worship in it and celebrated and rededicated it on November 15, 2009.

My sermon:

• We are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building... you are God’s temple, and God’s spirit dwells in you. – 1 Corinthians 3:9, 16

• Spring City UMC traces its birth to Main Street 1845 when the young Rev. Peter Cox was invited by Bethel Methodist Church member David Wells to preach the gospel to the people in the town that was growing at the Schuylkill River Bridge. Rev. Cox was a Methodist preacher from Pottstown whose preaching circuit of eight area churches included the young Bethel Methodist Episcopal Church. There were churches of other denominations in the surrounding countryside, but after the Schuylkill river bridge was built in 1840, industry and people moved in, and where there were people, there was the need to preach the gospel.

Note again that a layperson (David Wells) saw a need (a new center of people) and worked with the clergy (Rev. Peter Cox) to proclaim the gospel.

For three years, five pastors from the Pottstown circuit preached the gospel to the people of Springville, and in 1848 the non-denominational Union Meeting House was built where our sanctuary stands today. Seven years later (1855) the pastors and the congregation of 12 members organized formally as a Methodist church.

• Move ahead 24 years to 1872... the church membership has increased from 12 to approaching 100... 1872 was a keystone year in Spring City: the bank was built, the Church Street School was built, the town was officially named Spring City, the Methodist congregation became incorporated, and plans were made to build a new building, as the Union Meeting House was no longer adequate to the needs of the growing congregation. (As the story goes, one pastor (Rev. John H. Wood) tripped on the rickety steps and declared it was time to build a new church before somebody broke his neck!).

In 1874 the Spring City Methodist Episcopal Church got its own pastor, the Rev. Eli Pickersgill... for the first time it was not shared with the Bethel or Pottstown churches. Also the brownstone church was opened for worship. The 30-year old congregation now numbered over a hundred members, with over two hundred in Sunday School. It had been served by 38 pastors, many who shared preaching responsibilities for 8 or 9 Pottstown area Methodist churches. The church had grown with the town, and where there were people, there was the desire to proclaim the gospel. This brownstone edifice, the second building on this site, would serve as the worship and teaching space for the next 37 years, until the building that we’re in right now was built, in 1909.

• Once again, as the town grew, so grew the need for the preaching and teaching of the gospel, and so grew the church. For 37 years the church struggled to make its brownstone space adequate to the needs of the congregation, but the church grew and grew, and plans for our current building were drawn up. It was a two-phase plan, and though the sanctuary wasn’t built until 1923, a picture like that on your bulletin cover was on bulletin covers even in 1911.

It was in 1909 that John Jones, founder of the Jones Motor Company, made two trips daily between Spring City and King of Prussia, and using a horse and cart, hauled the stones for the building of this Sunday School Auditorium. And November 14th, 2009, under the pastorate of the Rev. Edwin F. Hann, this Sunday School Auditorium was dedicated to the glory of God.

• You’ve heard me repeat a few times what I would call the founding principle of our church: that where there are people, there is the need to proclaim the gospel. Going right along with this is a second point: The pastor may be the preacher, but the proclamation of the gospel is the work of the preacher and the people together. In fact, where there is no proclamation of the gospel by the people, there is no church... and where people are proclaiming the gospel and teaching and building on what God hath established and founded in Jesus Christ, where people are doing this, there shall the church be found.

• We rededicate this building, this sacred space which was built on the efforts of so many laity and clergy, which was built by the prayers, the presence, the gifts, the service, and the witness of thousands of our forbears.

• We rededicate this building, this space which has been dedicated to God since 1848, but when it comes down to it, the bricks and mortar that God is most interested in are not the walls around us or the roof above us, but the living temples seated in these chairs, living temples that enter and exit these doors, yea that spend most of their time outside these walls, living temples that leave these walls and carry with them the good news that God is for us, God is with us, God is in us, God redeems us and makes us whole. We are living stones, working together with each other and in cooperation with God’s Spirit, being built into a spiritual house acceptable to God (1 Peter 2:5). So let your life be founded on the rock that is Jesus... let your life be shaped by God’s Spirit and guided by God’s Word... and dedicate to God yourself: your prayers, your presence, your gifts, your service, and your witness. To God be the glory, Amen.

• Hymn: Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation

- Pastor Kerry

This Sunday: 80 in worship.


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