Christmas Walking Tour Set In Mercersburg
On Saturday, December 19, the Mercersburg Area Churches Inc., formerly known as the Ministerium, will hold a tour of local churches from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. The Mercersburg Area Churches, comprised of clergy of participating churches and lay representatives, emphasizes cooperation among local congregations, coordinates events that enhance community spirituality, and aids and supports people in a number of programs.
This tour will include the following churches: St. John’s E.V. Lutheran Church on Linden Avenue, Bethel A.M.E. Church on West California Street, Presbyterian Church of the Upper West Conococheague on West Seminary Street, First United Methodist Church and Trinity United Church of Christ, both on East Seminary Street, and Clayton Memorial Church of God on Charlestown Road.
In addition, at specified times these churches will present a series of 15-minute musical programs: St. John’s E.V. Lutheran Church at 4:00 p.m. will give a program exploring through words, solos and group singing the significance of the words of the song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” and the history of that song; Bethel A.M.E. Church at 4:30 p.m. will feature the women’s choir of that church; the Presbyterian Church at 5:00 p.m. will hold a pipe organ recital; the First United Methodist Church at 5:30 p.m., emphasizing the theme of light, will have solos by church choir members and congregational carol singing, Trinity United Church of Christ at 6:00 p.m. will have a piano recital; and Clayton Memorial Church of God at 6:45 p.m. will have a church member interpret Christmas carols by use of sign language. Brochures will be available in each church to remind visitors of the schedule.
The purposes of this tour are that visitors may see sanctuaries decorated for Christmas, notice the architecture, learn about the history of the church and have an opportunity to make a financial donation to the Mercersburg Area Churches. Although no tickets will be sold, a collection plate will be placed in the chancel of each church.
Although this organization was incorporated only in 1974, its work antedates that time by many years as it has a long history of involvement with the community and work for the community. The earliest extant minute book of this organization when it as called the Pastors’ Association of Mercersburg is dated March 1887. In the past, as today, it sponsored a program of community worship, including a Week of Prayer in January and a week of Lenten services, both with services in all of the participating churches, and from 1912 until the 1940s held at the town churches in rotation, weekly Sunday evening lawn services throughout the summer. In times of need such as the pandemic of the Spanish influenza that struck Mercersburg the hardest in October 1918 and the Great Depression, the ministers in conjunction with civic organizations were active in programs designed to help afflicted people. At Christmas 1942 each member of the Ministerium wrote a long, encouraging letter to men and women in the armed services published in a special edition of the “Mercersburg Journal.” When the Mercersburg Area Community Chorus, now an independent entity, was formed in 1974, it sought the sponsorship of the Ministerium as did the Mercersburg Area PreSchool, also now independent. Also in 1975 the Meals-on-Wheels program, now independent but with the governing board members from the participating churches, was initiated under the sponsorship of the Ministerium, and the Mercersburg Area Youth Organization, now also independent, was developed by the Ministerium, which set up the board of directors and created bylaws.