Celebrating 50 Years of Ministry: 1971 – 2021
Below are just a few brief highlights of our first 50 years.
The origins of the congregation go back as far as the late 1960s and the formation of the Lutheran Mission in Newtown. The congregation began worshiping in July 1970 at the Council Rock Youth and Community Center under the pastoral leadership of Reverend Edward McHale. The congregation was formally chartered as Lutheran Church of God’s Love on March 28, 1971 with 64 charter members.
The church building was completed in 3 phases with the first phase in 1974, the second phase (what is now Fellowship Hall) in 1983 and the third phase (the current sanctuary) in 1992. The sanctuary was dedicated with the setting of a ceremonial cornerstone and a worship service on June 14, 1992. Over 400 people were in attendance, with Pastor Larry Smoose presiding. An outdoor Prayer Garden was added in 2005.
The congregation experienced rapid growth in both membership and ministries in the 1980s and 1990s with consistent attention to the worship experience and spiritual growth of people of all ages. As an addition to our organ and choirs, the Rejoice! praise band was formed in 1996 and a contemporary worship service option began. God’s Love Christian Preschool was established in 1999. Lay leadership played (and still plays) an important role in the administration and operation of the church.
God’s Love has developed and nurtured many small group ministries over the years that provide opportunities to connect with one another in fellowship and service to God. Appalachia Service Project trips, youth theater productions, Knit and Crochet projects and community Vacation Bible school programs are just a few of the historical highlights. Small group ministries for various ages and interests continue to be a vital part of congregational life.
The congregation celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2021 in the midst of the COVID pandemic. While this disease posed great challenges to the church and the community, it was also a catalyst for innovation, flexibility, perseverance and perspective. Online and outdoor worship options, Zoom meetings, and a 24/7 open lobby for non-perishable food donations are some of the opportunities we created. As we look toward our next 50 years, we move confidently forward together in faith.