Anderson
Anderson (Submitted)

A group of young-ish Presbyterians plan to launch a new congregation in downtown York in September.

"Our target is the unchurched, the formerly churched, those disenfranchised with church, those who are skeptical," said the Rev. Aaron J. Anderson, 32, who is doing the bulk of the organizing.

Anderson wants to nurture his fledgling flock by encouraging congregants to be good neighbors, approaching people and building relationships across cultural boundaries.

"The city is a place where you find a lot of people disenfranchised across socioeconomic lines," said Anderson, who lives in the Avenues neighborhood in northwest York.

"If we're going to be a church in the city, we need to be neighbors first."

The new congregation would be the fourth in York County affiliated with the Presbyterian Church in America -- the smaller and more conservative of the two largest branches of U.S. Presbyterianism.

It would be the denomination's first church in the City of York.

"Coming here from the South, I was really struck by the racism I found here in the North," Anderson said. "Our denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America, is just starting to get its act together in planting churches among non-white, non-suburban-type people."

For five years, Anderson has been assistant to the pastor at the largely white, suburban Providence Presbyterian in Manchester Township.

Anderson grew up outside Chicago, graduated from Liberty University in Virginia and, after several years in North Carolina, moved to York. He was ordained in December.

For a couple of years, the 270-member Providence congregation will help support the new plant financially. So will a core group of 12 to 15 individuals who have committed to help launch the venture, which is named City Church.

Among Anderson's tasks through September will be fundraising, finding a meeting place and overseeing two study groups that meet in town, he said.

City Church already has a presence on the social-networking site Facebook, and Anderson plans to blog about faith- and urban-related issues, he said.

Ultimately, Anderson would like to plant three other small congregations in the city. He envisions neighborhood congregations of 200 people or fewer to keep tight the relationships among members. The neighborhood congregations would draw from a small geographic area.

"Our goal is not to be a large church," he said.

Another church plant, Immanuel Presbyterian in Shrewsbury, dissolved last year.

Immanuel, which was founded as Christ Reformed Presbyterian in 1990, had struggled to grow for several years, said the Rev. Jim Tyson, the pastor who last served the congregation.

In other religion news around the region:

Pastor's passing: The Rev. Frederick S. Weiser, retired Lutheran pastor from New Oxford, died Jan. 26 in York Hospital. He was 73.

Weiser, a member of Christ Lutheran Church in York, graduated from Gettysburg College, the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg and Philadelphia Seminary.

He served parishes in Germany, Lancaster and Biglerville, where he was pastor of St. Paul Lutheran for 19 years.

He was archivist for Gettysburg Seminary from 1966-71. He wrote books about the Lutheran diaconate, German folk art and his family.

According to his obituary, Weiser organized trips and gave tours of Germany, where he was well-known by the shop-keepers where he took tourists.

Room for the Harvest: A Hanover radio station hopes to raise $8,000 for the Changing Lives Homeless Shelter with its House the Homeless Marathon noon to 8 p.m. Feb. 12 and 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 13 on WHVR-AM (1280).

Donations will benefit the shelter and programs for the homeless. Contributions can be dropped off at the Hanover Area Council of Churches, 136 Carlisle St.; Grace United Church of Christ, 100 4th St.; St. Mark Lutheran Church, 129 Charles St.; First United Methodist, 200 Frederick St.; at WHVR on Radio Road or can be called in during the marathon.

For details, call 633-6353 between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

Dance away the day: Aldersgate United Methodist Church in York Township will host a 12-hour dance-a-thon starting at noon Feb. 21 to benefit the charity Bridge of Hope of York County, which helps homeless mothers.

The goal is to raise $12,000 -- the cost of putting one mother and her children through the Bridge of Hope program for a year. Dancers will be asked to raise a minimum of $120 and can compete for prizes.

Check-in begins at 11 a.m. For details, call 747-9675 or e-mail tammi.morris@bridgeofhopeyork.org.

Youth Workers Conference: For the fourth year, Messiah College is hosting a conference for adults who work in youth ministry, as well as student leaders.

The one-day conference is 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. March 28 and offers keynote sessions with motivational speaker Reggie Dabbs (reggiedabbsonline.com) and more than 20 workshops. For details, visit www.messiah.edu/youth_workers/.

Philanthropists honored: Tony and Stef Campisi will receive an award for their philanthropic contributions at Lutheran Social Services' Cornerstone Dinner 6 p.m. April 16 at the Yorktowne Hotel, 48 E. Market St.

The medical doctor and social activist Patch Adams is the night's keynote speaker. The dinner benefits LSS Outreach Services. Reservations due by April 3.

DENOMINATION
Name: The Presbyterian Church in America
Founded: 1973 with roots in the colonial era

Membership: 345,600 people in 1,370 congregations (2007)

Headquarters: Lawrenceville, Ga.

Local churches: Providence Presbyterian in Manchester Township, New Life Presbyterian in York Township and Hanover Valley Presbyterian in Hanover

History: The Presbyterian church in the United States has split and parts have reunited several times. The largest group is the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), which has offices in Louisville, Ky.

The Presbyterian Church in America is a smaller, more conservative denomination that formed after 260 conservative congregations withdrew from the southern Presbyterian Church, U.S.

They opposed their former church's ecumenical involvement in groups such as the World Council of Churches and its impending merger with the more liberal United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. They reject the ordination of women.

Presbyterians' primary doctrinal standard is the Westminster Confession of Faith. The Presbyterian Church in America believes in the inerrancy of Scripture and emphasize the doctrines of human depravity, salvation by grace, Christ's death for the elect only and the perseverance of the saints.

Local churches are governed by elders (presbyters) elected by church members.

Sources: Presbyterian Church in America, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the "Handbook of Denominations in the United States"

ON THE WEB

City Church, www.citychurchyork.com.

Presbyterian Church in America, www.pcanet.org.

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