*PALMYRA* - Palmyra Brethren in Christ church has always been a place where people can feel comfortable and welcome. When Palmyra BIC's new building realizes its completion, it will cater to a host of spiritual needs, not the least of which is helping its congregation embrace an even greater feeling of belonging.
Palmyra BIC, a spiritual rock in the community for over a century, is engaged in the opening phase of a relocation of its house of worship. The church, which is currently located at 616 West Main Street in the borough, is moving a mile South and refurbishing the former Redner's Grocery Store, at 220 Campbelltown Road. From the outside, one can tangibly see the transformation of a food store to a house of worship taking shape. But the completion is still months away and won't be finalized until the current, 60-year-old church building is sold.
"This is a place where you can belong," said Palmyra Brethren in Christ's lead pastor, Terry Friesen, sitting in the middle of what will be the new church's lobby. "The majority of people moving into the area are from outside of Palmyra. They're not from here. They don't have family close. But they want to belong. We want to create a place where people feel comfortable and then ultimately where they connect with Jesus.
We want it to be a place where you can come as you are," continued Pastor Terry. "If you're not intentional with that process, it doesn't happen. One of our goals is to connect new people to new people and experience a sense of belonging. Wherever you are in life, whatever your stage, this is a place you can go to be yourself.”
"We're contemporary in our style and it's bringing people into the church," added Pastor Terry. "There's a feeling that 'this is where I want to be'. If grandparents and kids are both coming here, something amazing must be happening. We have a very diverse congregation, age-wise, about 20 percent are retired - about 25 percent are Young Adult and younger - and the remaining 55 percent are families and adults in the middle!”With an average Sunday morning attendance around 375, the conversation has begun concerning a third service - exciting! Current Sunday celebration times are at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
Pastor Terry is supported in ministry by a staff which includes associate pastor Larry Rieck, office administrator Ann Miller, Stephanie Schell and Maria Franchina, co-directors of children's ministries, director of youth ministry Steve Mann, young adult ministry leader Aubrey Olney and worship arts leader Matt Topping, as well as other support staff and countless active volunteers.