The bells were ringing when Pastor Susan Williamson pulled into the parking lot at Gatesburg Lutheran Church.
In fairness, the odds were in her favor. Church bells on Sunday should surprise nobody, especially when there’s been a two-century precedent set.
Still, these days it’s best not to take anything for granted.
“That was very nice when I drove in, to hear that,” Williamson said.
The congregation celebrated its 200th anniversary this weekend with a special visit from Bishop Michael Rhyne, of the Allegheny Synod, who conducted the service side by side with Williamson.
There are a number of people here today whose ancestors’ names are on these windows.
Durability was the theme of the hour, the things that last in a world that is just as likely to tear them down. For every church that manages to make it to the big 2-0-0, there are others that wind up going to the way of the Walkman.
“Many congregations might have been gone, going through all of these transitions, but you’re still here,” Rhyne said.
Connie Moore has been a member of the Gatesburg Lutheran congregation since the day she was born.
She was baptized in this church, married in this church, buried her husband in this church.
“There are a number of people here today whose ancestors’ names are on these windows,” Moore said.
Before the service started, Moore, who is now the church’s council president, addressed her fellow parishioners with an update on their yearlong drive for the State College Food Bank.
It’s a real delight to be able to serve a congregation that has such great roots.
Pastor Susan Williamson
Usually folks reach for whatever happens to be in pantry, but in honor of Gatesburg Lutheran’s anniversary, the council set a goal that has thus far yielded 2,201 pounds of food for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
“When I was a child, almost all of the congregation were farmers. I think we have a soft spot for feeding people,” Moore said.
Williamson has been with the church for only 10 of its 200 years, but seems just as invested Gatesburg Lutheran’s long history — and its future — as anyone else.
“It’s a real delight to be able to serve a congregation that has such great roots,” Williamson said.