Whitehall-Coplay Press

Monday, February 24, 2020

St. John’s UCC plans June 2 community celebration

Wednesday, May 29, 2019 by PAUL FOX Special to The Press in Local News

St. John’s United Church of Christ, 575 Grape St., Fullerton, will welcome the public to its annual Celebrate Community event June 2.

After an outdoor service 9:30 a.m., festivities will commence 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. In case of inclement weather, the event will be inside.

Highlights of the day include food for purchase, live music from The Deadliners, entertainment from Tootsee the Clown, a kids’ area and a 50/50 basket raffle with a chance to win tickets to Hershey Park.

This year, the celebration also marks a significant anniversary for the church and its parishioners — the building nears its 90th birthday this August and the congregation acknowledges 26 members who are 90 years old and older. Free birthday cake and fruit punch will be available for all guests.

The history of St. John’s UCC dates back farther than 90 years, but the current congregation wanted to take this year to celebrate the building they have called home for so long. Construction on the original St. John’s UCC building began in August of 1929, shortly after members had separated from the St. John’s Lutheran church, located just around the corner on Third Street. Extensive additions were built 40 years ago, but the church hasn’t been in perfect shape since that time. Current pastor Becky Beckwith said when she arrived in 2005, St. John’s UCC was literally falling apart. The addition — which was only a few decades old — didn’t even have air conditioning.

In an attempt to secure much-needed renovations, the church raised a couple thousand dollars and re-applied for sound abatement treatment from Lehigh Valley International Airport. By applying as a religious organization and a community center, St. John’s UCC got the treatment and then some — in the end, receiving far more renovations than it had raised money for and with no debt.

Blessed with a practically brand-new building at an incredible price, Beckwith and her congregation decided it was their time to give back to the community that had given them so much. In 2013, St. John’s UCC hosted its first Celebrate Community event, with a free pig roast, where they raised money for Whitehall teachers to purchase school supplies. In the years since, they have used the event to benefit local firefighters, veterans and food banks.

This year, however, the church has decided to raise money for its own costs. Like all things, renovations only last so long, and the church building is in need of repairs. Taking this year to keep themselves funded, Beckwith said, will allow the church to continue serving and celebrating the community in the years to come.