Cer­e­mony con­cludes re­con­struc­tion of Zwingli UCC

Souderton Independent - - FRONT PAGE - By Meghan Ross

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.

At­ten­dance

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.

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