Dedication to ministry and mutual respect among generations keep a church going, said the Rev. Elizabeth Hess, pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Juniata.
Those two factors can be found at Trinity where the congregation will celebrate its 125th anniversary with a combined service at 10:45 a.m. Sept. 18. Two other services that are normally part of the weekend schedule will be canceled.
Hess referred to "a wonderful pairing of generations" in explaining Trinity Lutheran's longevity.
(Mirror photo by J.D. Cavrich) Among those who will be celebrating Trinity Lutheran Church’s anniversary are (from left) Sharon Kutz, church council president; the Rev. Elizabeth Hess, pastor; Margaretta Perry, the oldest active member; and Karlee Dearmitt, who will be confirmed this year.
"They don't shut the older members out. They look to their experience, but don't stay stagnant. They let the youth get involved, too," she said. "And they love the community of Juniata."
She attributed the congregation's outreach and ministry to its ability to stay alive through the years.
"It has all depended on the ministry and looking into the future," Hess said.
The guest preacher for the celebration is the Rev. Donald Main, a former pastor at Trinity who eventually became bishop of the Upper Susquehanna Synod. Trinity Lutheran was Main's first congregation when he came out of seminary. In addition to Main, other former pastors of the church are expected to attend the observance.
Special music will be presented.
"We have a lot of [musical] talent in the congregation," Hess said.
After the service, a meal will be served in the fellowship hall.
"It's a potluck dinner," Hess said. "The church is providing a ham, and we're asking people to bring a covered dish."
In preparation for the event, the youth group is painting the fellowship hall. Other walls in the church also will take on a fresh look when they are decorated with photographs from the church's history. Members are gathering the pictures, having them enlarged and will display them throughout the building.
Trinity Lutheran actually started down the block from its current location and the first church was a wooden building, Hess said.
"We were given a piece of land by a family who decided there should be a church in Juniata," she said.
One of the members who has experienced a lot of changes at the church is 92-year-old Margaretta Perry, Trinity Lutheran's oldest active member. She has attended the church for 85 years.
"The church has been growing all this time," she said. "It's been redecorated many times, and we've had some wonderful ministers."
Perry attributes the church's endurance to its sense of community.
"It started out as a neighborhood church," she said. "It's a nice family church. I think it has remained that."
Sharon Kutz, church council president, has been part of Trinity Lutheran Church for 40 years. She noted that church membership has improved and continues to grow today.
"We have so many wonderful, wonderful talented volunteers in this church," she said. "The youth group here is wonderful, too. I'm very excited about the weekend [celebration]."