In the mid-1950s, while traveling to Delaware, Rev. George Straub spied a church building for sale in Florin, PA (near Mount Joy). What appeared to be a happenstance led to a rental agreement with the owners of the building. Superintendent Straub quickly planned and strategized for an exploratory revival meeting. Straub and the other men who assisted in this pioneer work slept in the Sunday school rooms during the meeting.
After the revival services came to a conclusion the congregation that had been gathered through the campaign continued to meet in this rented “Church of the Brethren.” There they worshipped the Lord and encouraged one another. This first building was sold a short time later to a used-furniture dealer who converted it into an auction house.
The next phase of this ministry was facilitated through a house-church. One of the congregants, Mr. George Killinger, generously opened his home to the fledgling congregation. Brother Straub would go as his schedule permitted to conduct services. While these earnest hearted Christians were grateful for the preaching ministry of Brother Straub they were not satisfied with their situation. They wanted an established church.
For nearly a decade various attempts were made to have services and to secure a building. Men like John White and Fred Watson had a burden for this group of believers to have a red-hot holiness church somewhere in the region. In spite of several noble efforts, it appeared that all doors were closed.
Then in 1966, while traveling to Landisville, PA, Rev. John White spotted a white frame church building on Main Street in Salunga, PA. At the time, it was sitting empty and not being used. Contact was made and the property purchased. Bro. White moved his family to the area and began pastoring the small, but excited and expectant congregation.
By 1974 they had outgrown this second building. Through the course of that year and the next, they were able to purchase a much larger building outside of town from the Salunga Church of the Brethren. This was a move that was divinely sanctioned by the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in a Watch Night service on December 31, 1975. Rev. James Bates, Sr. was serving as Pastor at that time.
Through the next four decades, 10 different pastors led the flock of the Lord at this third location. There were many wonderful providences witnessed as the Lord helped and blessed His people. One of those providences was the complete remodeling of the sanctuary during the pastorate of Rev. Troy Shaffer. But like all good stories where there is an ebb and flow of good times and bad times, the church has had its share of challenges. And over the last number of years, it has seemed that the ministry was entering a season of stalemate.
In October of 2018, the General Board began to feel that God was leading us to sell the properties and re-plant the Church in a different community. The parsonage was put on the real estate market. One day later it was sold for a surprising sum. By the last day of November, the Church building was sold as well. The sale price for the Church was more than a surprise. It was a miracle. Not only did we now have more than half a million dollars to work with, but God helped us to find a Wesleyan-owned building for sale on Marietta Avenue in Lancaster, PA. We were able to purchase that well-maintained and handicap-accessible church with a paved parking lot for $13,000.00 less than the previous owners had paid in 2005.
It was a miracle. Not only did we now have more than half a million dollars to work with, but God helped us to find a Wesleyan owned building for sale on Marietta Avenue in Lancaster, PA.
This was a major and a strategic move. Not only do we now have a superior and more ministry friendly facility, but this building is nestled in a little village called Rohrerstown two miles outside the city of Lancaster where nearly 60,000 people dwell. What a mission field lies at our doorstep!
Throughout this transition, our interest as a conference has been provoked in a healthy and life-giving way. The Home Missions Board has enlisted the aid of the Scott and Heather Hartman family to assist senior pastor, Rev. James Winter and his wife Linda. Our vision has been for this to be a mentoring relationship and valuable ministry partnership that will breathe new life into this Church. I believe there are great days ahead for the Crossroads God’s Missionary Church in Lancaster Pennsylvania.
Conference President Jacob Martin and I plan to be a part of an official launch day on Sunday, May 5th. If you are within a reasonable driving distance of Lancaster, PA please consider joining us for one of the services that Sunday. A special commemoration service will begin at 2:30 PM. Please join us in praying that God will help us to revitalize and grow this Church into a dynamic and consequential spiritual force for Jesus in Lancaster and the surrounding region.
A famous banker, J. P. Morgan said, “The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.” In the history of this particular church that has been the philosophy that has led us to four different buildings. Perhaps we’ve had our summer, fall, and winter seasons. Who can tell what the future holds except our kind and omniscient Heavenly Father! I pray that in this fourth building we will truly enter our springtime. We covet your prayers as we launch what is officially our first God’s Missionary Church in Lancaster, PA.
We covet your prayers as we launch what is officially our first God’s Missionary Church in Lancaster, PA.
My encouragement for this new beginning is summarized in the final lines of the fourth stanza of an old hymn, written more than 330 years ago by a German theologian named Joachim Neander:
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
Who with His love doth befriend thee!
We have been befriended by God’s amazing love through the days of this journey! Pray for the ministers of this Church, the laypeople of Crossroads, and the people of Lancaster.
For more information on the Lancaster church, visit the Lancaster church page in our Church Directory.