By Barbara-Anne G. Taylor, AiM, St. Peter, Bethlehem, and synod
It’s a word that often connotes "old, dusty, and boring." Certainly
it is not a word to capture the imagination of a ten-year-old boy. And yet
that’s exactly what has happened at St. Peter’s Evangelical
Lutheran Church in Bethlehem, Pa.
The congregation is 143 years old and has a rich heritage, now captured
in its “Heritage Room” a room that is a lovely combination
of library, meeting room, and archival storage. It’s a special treat
for Sunday church school classes to spend time in the room learning about
the congregation’s past:
- St. Peter’s underground gymnasium was dug out by hand at the time
of World War II by members of the congregation seeking a safe place
for neighborhood youth to play basketball.
- Sunday church school
classes and worship services were once conducted in German.
- For over 40 years,
the members of St. Peter’s have hosted visitors
from all over the world on two weekends in May as they attend
the Bach Festival at Lehigh University, dropping in at the congregation’s
Social Room for meals and a place to relax between sessions.
- And so much more!!
The idea of preserving that amazing congregational heritage fascinates
Richard Robert Hawk III. He is 10 years old and in the fifth
grade at Saucon Valley Elementary School in Hellertown. He
and at St. Peter’s
he is a member of the Junior Choir, a Gift Bearer, an acolyte, and a member
of the LYO.
Richard also loves to study, to learn, and to work on the computer.
He has chosen to put those gifts to use by joining St. Peter’s Heritage
Committee as its youngest member. The other committee members range in age
from 30 to 80. Richard attends committee meetings, helps to file papers,
helps to sort and store photographs, and helps with the heritage displays
that change throughout the year.
He recently helped design a “quiz” of questions about St. Peter’s
past and present sports teams, based on information from the Heritage Room.
The quiz was distributed to members on “Sports Sunday,” a day
when the recreation ministries of the congregation were highlighted. The
Heritage Room was open after each worship service, and sports photographs
and memorabilia were on display. Each person who visited the room and returned
the quiz sheet with the correct answers received a St. Peter’s magnet
and mug as keepsakes. It was a great time for young and old alike to share
the stories of sports at St. Peter’s!
Richard’s work on the committee is very-much appreciated by the other
committee members. His contributions to preserving the history of the congregation
are important to all of the members of St. Peter’s. Richard’s
ministry reminds us of the Communion of Saints, our connection, through
Jesus Christ, with all the faithful of every time and every place. Thanks
be to God!