St. Paul’s Episcopal Church will celebrate 150th anniversary May 18

By on May 8, 2019

Pam Heisey, parish administrator at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in
Manheim, is looking forward to celebrating the church’s 150th anniversary at a Polka Mass on May 18. (Photo by Missi Mortimer)

Manheim is blessed to have two churches with the name St. Paul’s, and both are celebrating milestones this year. St. Paul’s UCC, 50 N. Main St., is celebrating its 250th anniversary with activities through the year; and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 90 S. Charlotte St., plans to celebrate its 150th anniversary with a Polka Mass at 11 .a.m. Saturday, May 18.

Polka Mass

Pam Heisey, St. Paul’s Episcopal parish administrator, explained that this will be the third time the church has hosted a Polka Mass. The music of the service is based on polka tunes, and a German band plays music for the service.

“It’s an uplifting, happy service. When we’ve hosted this service previously, people really enjoyed it One time, we did have some people doing a polka at the end of the service,” Heisey said, “The anniversary committee thought this would be a wonderful way to celebrate our anniversary, and we wanted to hold it on Saturday rather than Sunday so some of our past clergy members could possibly attend.”

In addition to St. Paul’s priest-in-charge, the Rev. Sud Tiwari, the Rev. Tim Small, a former priest at the church, will be attending, and the Rev. Stanley Imboden may possibly be attending. Heisey explained that Father Imboden is now retired, and St. Paul’s was his first church.

A celebration lunch will be held in the parish hall following the service.

“We’re a small and relatively informal church,” Heisey said. “We’re much like a family.”

History

The church’s history is intertwined with that of Hope Episcopal, located at 2425 Mountain Road in Rapho Township. Hope Church, the sixth Episcopal church, and the fourth oldest still in existence in the county, was established in the autumn of 1849 by the Grubb family of nearby Mount Hope estate (known today as Mount Hope Estate & Winery). Heisey said a memorandum in the parish register indicated that as the Rev. D. Washburn traveled between Lancaster and Hope Church in November 1849, he held the first Episcopal service in Manheim.

St. Paul’s history indicates that the congregation itself was organized May 8, 1869, and the cornerstone of the present church was laid Oct. 29, 1869. The church was consecrated May 3, 1870. Heisey said the architectural style of the church is known as carpenter gothic. Hope and St. Paul’s shared clergy until January 1976, when the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania approved separate clergy for each church. St. Paul’s became a parish in January 1984.

Renovations

According to a church history, gifts before the turn of the century included linens, hangings, book marks, a tin roof, and, in 1896, an iron fence. On Christmas Day, 1899, a litany desk was presented by the Women’s Guild and remains among the oldest memorials still in use today.

Two adjoining lots were donated to the church in 1901, with the intent of using them to construct a new stone church, but that wasn’t financially possible, so the original frame church remained. While the original portion remains, changes have been made over the years.

Heisey said since 1984, the lobby off the parking lot was expanded. The enlarged space has been redecorated and is now known as the Gathering Room, an informal seating area.

“It’s a nice, welcoming area. People can gather or hold informal meetings there,” she said.

The kitchen that adjoins the parish hall has been enlarged.

“We host a number of events,” said Heisey. “Some are catered, and some, like our annual spaghetti dinner, are prepared in the kitchen.”

Other events in the parish hall include an international dinner, a Christmas bazaar, and the First Responders Breakfast that’s held in the spring and fall. Heisey explained that emergency services personnel from throughout the Manheim area are invited to the breakfast, which the church hosts to show its appreciation for their service to the community. This year the church is planning to host a veteran’s breakfast, but plans for this event have not yet been finalized.

Like a number of homes and businesses in Manheim, St. Paul’s suffered damage during Tropical Storm Lee in September 2011. Heisey said the foundation of the original part of the church received structural damage. Since that area is below the sanctuary, services were held in the parish hall for nearly nine months while repairs were made.

St. Paul’s also has some time honored traditions. Heisey said the altar is decorated with fresh fruit and vegetables for the Thanksgiving service. After the service, they’re donated to the Water Street Mission.

For more information about St. Paul’s Episcopal Church visit stpaulsmanheim.org or the church’s Facebook page.

Rochelle Shenk is a correspondent for the Lititz Record Express. She welcomes your comments and questions at RAASHENK@aol.com.

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