The year was 1839. The place was Stonersville (Alverton today). Then and there a twenty-five-year-old shoemaker turned preacher, John Hickernell (1814-1897), organized a new Church of God in the Mennonite Meeting House. Just the year before the churches in eastern Pennsylvania sent him out as a missionary to the west. So began his lifelong calling as a church starter in western Pennsylvania and Ohio. Thomas Hickernell (1813-1887), John’s brother, also shared in this work and in the same year formed a church in the home of Henry Rosenberger in nearby Ruffsdale. Another congregation was organized in the same area at Landis’ schoolhouse.
Today’s Center Bethel takes its name from the convergence of the three congregations named above that merged at the central location of Alverton. In 1841 the congregation erected its first bethel, as the Churches of God, General Conference (CGGC) originally called their meetinghouses, which was replaced in 1863 with a “more commodious” structure. Over the years the church expanded and remodeled the building (1881, 1908, 1928) as the congregation grew.
Given Center Bethel’s involvement in their community and their world vision there’s no doubt that they are making a difference in Jesus’ name today. The fact that nine teens joined twelve adults to lead worship is evidence enough, but add twenty plus children who came forward for the kid’s talk and the picture of a healthy church becomes clearer.
At the root of it all is a groundswell of love that grows directly from the heart of Jesus as evidenced by the pastor, the congregation, and the ministries of the church. Oh, that all churches could experience and express the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). It’s why Center Bethel still prospers after 175 years, and how any other church could do the same.
ONe Mission together,
Soli Deo Gloria!
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Search for New CGGC Executive Director in Progress
An application, position description and desired attributes of the Executive Director are available on the Churches of God website or by contacting email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications received by December 15, 2014 will be given priority, with a decision to be made, Lord willing, by March 31, 2015.
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