250-year-old congregation still going strong

St. Benjamin Lutheran Church in Westminster, Md., is celebrating its 250th anniversary Oct. 30.

Founded in 1761, the congregation was one of many being organized along a well-known trail traveled by German immigrants “as they pushed their way from the port atPhiladelphia,” according to St. Benjamin’s history.

Today St. Benjamin is a country church fast becoming a suburban church, according to Pastor David Shafer. “We have housing developments on land that was once corn fields. This has become our mission field,” he says, adding that the congregation is reaching out to “people looking for a church home or seeking a closer walk with God. We are a growing church.”

David is the 21st pastor called to the congregation. “There are not a whole lot of us pastors, given the congregation’s 250-year history,” he says.

To help the congregation celebrate the anniversary, ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson will preach at Sunday worship and Bishop Wolfgang Herz-Lane of the ELCA Delaware-Maryland Synod will preside. Later in the day the congregation will gather for a banquet dinner.

There are 400 members “on our books with 150 people who regularly worship on Sunday, and there’s always room for more,” says David. “We’re a church that cares deeply for one another as family.”

Celebrating 60 years of ministry

Lutheran Social Services of South Central Pennsylvania is celebrating 60 years of service in 2011. A special worship service to acknowledge the anniversary was held Oct. 23 at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg. ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson presided at the service, and the Rev. B. Penrose Hoover, bishop of the ELCA Lower Susquehana Synod, assisted. A reception followed.

Other events surrounding the anniversary include celebrating employee and volunteer contributions, acknowledging friends and supporters, and expressing gratitude for recipients of the ministry’s services and residents of the community.

Lutheran Social Services of South Central Pennsylvania provides health, human and senior living services to help people achieve an optimal quality of life.