St. Matthew History: 1949 – 1982

  • 1949    The first assistant pastor, Rev. Victor Carlson, was called in 1949, and served two years.  Succeeding him were Rev. Carroll Boyer (1951-53), and Rev. Elwood Leister (1953-56).  In 1952, ground was broken for a Youth Building to accommodate a gymnasium, scout troops, and several Sunday School departments.  Dedicated in March 1954, it was attached to the rear of the fourth church building, where facilities for the Adult, Primary and Junior Deptartments of the Sunday School were renovated.

  • 1957    Rev. Howard J. McCarney was called as Senior Pastor, with Rev. Daniel D. Oravec as Assistant.  Rev. Lindsay Ingram succeeded Pastor Oravec in 1959.  That year a new position of Director of Christian Education was established, and Rev. Martin L. A. Schilling was called to fill it.  These men led the congregation during the 1962 merger that resulted in the United Lutheran Church becoming a constituent part of the Lutheran Church in America.  The women’s organizations were brought together into Lutheran Church Women, and a new Service Book and Hymnal was introduced.  In 1963, Rev. Charles Coates succeeded Pastor Ingram.  Pastor McCarney was elected president of the Central Pennsylvania Synod in 1966, and that year Pastor Coates and Pastor Schilling also resigned.

  • 1967    Rev. Arthur l. Ruths came as Senior Pastor in April, with Rev. Clifford R. Miller, Jr., coming as Associate Pastor the next year.  For several years, the congregation had discussed the need for more adequate facilities for Christian Education.  For that purpose, in 1967, they purchased the Park Theatre property across Franklin St. from the church.  A year of study produced a building program calling for (1) demolition of the Park Theater and construction of an Education-Administration Building on that site, (2) demolition of the fourth church building and construction of a Fellowship Building in its place, and (3) renovation of the Nave, with installation of stained glass windows on the east wall.  In 1968, Mr. Springer retired and James E. Derr began duties as the first full-time Minister of Music.  The practice of offering Holy Communion each Sunday at alternating services was begun in 1970.

  • 1971    In June, ground was broken for the Education-Administration Building, with dedication September 24, 1972.  The position of Director of Christian Education was resumed with the coming of Miss Margaret McLean, who served one year.  Pastor Ruths began an intensive 2-year training of eleven members to serve as teachers for adults who would survey the Bible in weeknight classes under the Bethel Bible Study program.  Construction of the Fellowship Building began in October 1972, and remodeling of the Nave in May 1973.  The annex building that had housed the offices at 55 Frederick St. was gradually made available as a center for social agencies serving primarily low income persons, beginning with a health clinic in 1972.

  • 1973    The 230th anniversary of St. Matthew was celebrated in conjunction with the dedication of the Fellowship Building and the remodeled Nave on November 4, 1973.  The same week, the Bethel Bible Study program began, with 150 adults enrolled.  Several Sunday morning adult lecture classes were consolidated into one Bible Class, continuing to broadcast from Fellowship Hall.  This marked the fifth consecutive year that St. Matthew’s benevolence quota for ministry through the wider church (synod and LCA) was met.  A three-pocket envelope was introduced to add a fund for Special Needs to meet specific human needs, world and local, and provide support for missionaries.  Membership in the Hanover Area Council of Churches (organized 1967) led to participation in ecumenical worship services and social service programs, such as a Clothing Bank, Meals-on-Wheels, and CROP Walk for world hunger.

  • 1974    In February, Sister Bernice Pantel arrived to serve as Director of Christian Education and Youth Work.  The Hanover Area Community Progress Council opened a Child Development Center in our preschool facilities.  Following Mr. Derr’s resignation, Thomas W.D. Guthrie became Minister of Music.  In 1975, the congregation assisted in the resettlement of two Vietnamese refugee families.

  • 1976    Funds from the sale of the parsonage at 250 McKinley Ave. were invested to provide a housing allowance for the Senior Pastor.  A pictorial directory of church members was published.  On May 17, Steven E. Caler, a son of the congregation, graduated from the Gettysburg Seminary.  From an active confirmed membership of 2,102, Sunday worship attendance averaged 661.  The members who did not regularly worship continued to be a heavy burden on the pastors.  The number of infant baptisms and confirmands in recent years showed a decline, warning that future growth could not depend on them alone.  In October, the public school system began using a classroom for teaching severely handicapped children.

  • 1977    Nineteen teams were formed to make visits on inactive and prospective members.  William Randall, treasurer for 18 years, died on February 9.  The monthly newsletter was published weekly in a new format edited by volunteer staff.  On September 18, Mrs. Evelyn Miller, Parish Secretary for over 32 years, was honored at a farewell.  Mrs. Barbara Wentz assumed that position.  Pastor Miller began teaching the 2-year “Word and Witness” series to ten adults each Monday evening.

  • 1978    St. Matthew sponsored one of 16 annual visits of the Red Cross Bloodmobile in support of the new community-wide Blood Assurance program.  The first annual School of Biblical Studies, arranged by St. Matthew, St. Mark, and St. Paul (York St.), was held on five Wednesday evenings after Easter, with 77 participants and teachers from the Seminary at Gettysburg.

  • 1979    On March 12, Pastor Miller announced his resignation, and a farewell was held April 29.  On May 1, Rev. Lester Karschner began serving part-time as Visitation Pastor.  After a year of preparation, a new program of Individualized Confirmation Instruction was launched in September, with seven lay teachers assisting the pastors and Sister Bernice.  A Sunday morning young adult class was started, making a total of five regular discussion classes for adults, plus the Adult Bible Class in a lecture format.  On September 24, Rev. Eric P. Wogen began his duties as Associate Pastor.  The parsonage at 209 Park Heights Blvd. was sold and a housing allowance provided for him.  He assumed responsibility for youth and stewardship programs, as well as sharing the regular pastoral duties.

  • 1980    In February, the first part of an estimated $600,000 bequest from Ralph and Helen Heusner was received.  To study the best stewardship of these funds, a committee was named to receive suggestions and report their recommendations to the Church Council.  At Easter, the regular recording of Sunday worship services was begun for shut-ins.  The first booklet of Advent meditations was written by members for the church.  In August, Mr. Guthrie resigned as Minister of Music, and Scott G. Fredericks assumed those duties November 1.  In June, an 8-day Vacation Church School enrolled 201 pupils, the highest number in eight years.  In December, the congregation approved purchasing the Grant property next to the Fellowship Building.

  • 1982    On January 31, the congregation approved the remodeling of the Lower Room, the renovation of the Youth Building, and the installation of heat/smoke detector and intrusion alarm systems.  In February, a 5-member Vietnamese family was sponsored and housed in the Grant office building.  Mrs. Deborah Frey began her work on July 1 as Director of Youth and Evangelism.  In August, photographs of members were taken for a new pictorial directory.  In October, a plaque memorializing members who were buried in the church cemeteries between 1750 and 1880, was installed in the Fellowship Hall corridor.  On December 12, the remodeled Lower Room area, furnished entirely with memorial gifts, was re-dedicated.

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