Ceremony concludes reconstruction of Zwingli UCC
A couple years ago, the Zwingli United Church of Christ on Wile Avenue in Souderton had some bad luck.
In late June 2008, Senior Pastor Butch Kuykendall woke to a phone call from a member of the church saying his church was engulfed in flames.
About four years later, on Sept. 30, 2012, Kuykendall placed a white cornerstone in the outside wall of the church, marking the official end of reconstruction following the fire. The event took place 50 years to the day after the church was formed in Souderton in 1962.
The church was originally founded in 1887, which means this year marks the church’s 125th anniversary.
After the fire, in which no one was seriously hurt, according to Kuykendall, the church began fundraising to reconstruct the church. In the meantime, services were held at the Indian Valley Boys & Girls Club’s gymnasium — a spot where Kuykendall would give sermons for about three years.
“They [the Boys & Girls Club] were wonderful, as was Univest,” who Kuyk-
endall said gave them of- fiFH VSaFH IRU WKHLU aGPLnistrative needs.
remained fairly consistent throughout the years at the Boys & dirls Club, according to Kuykendall, and the church actually gained members. Some members joined the church during the time services were at the Boys & dirls Club, while other members have been with the church for 60 years, Kuykendall said.
“The community really supported us,” said Kuykendall, who will have been a pastor at the church for 15 years this coming February. “It was incredible.”
About two years after the fire, reconstruction of the church started, and it would end up taking a little over three years to finish it.
In August 2011, the members moved back to their location on Wile Avenue, though construction wasn’t fully finished.
Some of the changes to the church included making what was previously an outdoor courtyard into an atrium, as well as rearranging where the administrative offices were. There is more square footage in the new building, but not a lot more, according to Kuykendall.
One wing of the church now features a room called the “Bright Space.” The room is named after the Bright Horizons Family Solutions, “a provider of employer-sponsored child care, back-up care, early education, educational advisory services and other workLlife solutions,” according to its website. Bright Horizons donated funds so the church could buy furniture and a kitchenette for the room.
The church holds meetings here, but it also serves as a room for the Interfaith Hospitality Network families, who stay at the church for one month. The Interfaith Hospitality Network provides housing for families facing homelessness, according to its website.
Over three Sundays in September of this year, Kuykendall talked to his congregation about the cornerstone ceremony and what it meant for the church.
On the first Sunday, Sept. 2, the church collected prayers for future generations of the church.
“They were prayers for peace, prayers for community, prayers for faith,” he said.
Then Sunday, Sept. 16, Kuykendall discussed the kind of prayers that were collected, and he talked about some of the things that were going into the cornerstone ceremony. This was the major sermon about the cornerstone, bringing in 125 to 150 people during the worship service.
“I think the members were really touched by being able to offer prayers,” Kuykendall said. “It was a connection with future generations. We exist not only because of dod’s help but also because of heritage — the saints who came before us. Now, we’re the heritage for the people who will come out here. We need to take that seriously and understand that we’re part of a faith community that’s going back to 125 years ago and even before that. It really touched them in a way that they may not have felt before.”
Most recently, Sept. 30, Kuykendall placed the actual cornerstone into the wall, with 40 to 50 people in attendance.
Associate Pastor Nicole Melara assisted with the cornerstone ceremony that Sunday. She said she thought the community enjoyed being a part of history.
“I told the kids, ‘Remember this — because most of us won’t be here in 50 years,’” she said.
Wesley Kolp tries wood grain painting at the Apple Butter Frolic.
John Munro carves a wooden spoon farm house style during the Apple Butter Frolic.