Hawthorn church marks 90th anniversary | News | thecourierexpress … – The Courier-Express

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Cloudy with occasional showers overnight. Low 63F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 40%.
Updated: September 9, 2023 @ 3:20 pm
The Hawthorn Church of the Nazarene, located along Chestnut Street, marked its 90th anniversary with a two-day celebration Aug. 19 and 20.

The Hawthorn Church of the Nazarene, located along Chestnut Street, marked its 90th anniversary with a two-day celebration Aug. 19 and 20.
HAWTHORN – It has been said that a “church anniversary is not just a celebration of the past; it is an invitation to embrace the future with open hearts and eager spirits.”
These words were apparent earlier this month as more than 50 past and current congregants gathered at the Hawthorn Church of the Nazarene to celebrate the church’s 90th year of ministry and community outreach.
“It was a great time of celebration and worship,” Pastor Tonya Hockenberry said of the two-day anniversary celebration, held Aug. 19 and 20 at the church site along Chestnut Street in Hawthorn, featuring a concert by local group Men of Praise on Saturday and a special service and luncheon on Sunday.
“We had about 55 people in attendance,” she continued, noting that attendees included past and current church members, as well as the families of two former ministers. “It was nice to be able to commemorate and celebrate the hard work and sacrifice of the many who came before us, as well as look forward to what God is going to do next here in Hawthorn.”
According to the church history, the Hawthorn Church of the Nazarene was “born out of a vision” of William Doverspike and Clarence E. Bish to see a Nazarene church in Hawthorn. The pair purchased a former Methodist Church — along with three houses on the same block — on Chestnut Street in August 1933, and the first service was held on Aug. 20, 1933 under the leadership of the Rev. Walter M. Baker.
In addition to needed repairs and upgrading, the church has undergone some notable construction and reconstruction over the years.
Sometime in the 1940s, Claude “Toddy” McAninch and John McAninch purchased a bell from a church in Nebraska, Pa., which was set to close and the town to be demolished for the flood control dam at Tionesta. The bell was brought to the Hawthorn site and placed in the belfry to replace the structure’s original bell that had been removed when the church was closed, the history states.
In 1975, as it was experiencing “significant growth” under the leadership of the Rev. Leon Carrico, the church purchased the lots across the street, on the corner of Maple and Chestnut streets. The old houses were torn down and a fellowship hall, which is still used today, was built.
“The hall has been completely redone over the years,” Hockenberry said, pointing to new carpeting and a full kitchen remodel that was finished this past spring.
During a phase of sanctuary improvements in 1996 — which also included new carpeting and a redesign of the platform — new altars were constructed by Charles Shuey of Hawthorn, along with a new cross for the front of the sanctuary, which was made with wood taken from the old altar.
“That cross is now out above the front door,” Hockenberry said of the exterior of the church building.
Additionally, Hockenberry said that an annex was also constructed on the back of the building featuring a Sunday school room, nursery and office on the ground floor as well as two additional Sunday school rooms and storage on the second floor to better accommodate the church’s then-flourishing children’s ministry.
Twenty-five pastors and several interim pastors have served the congregation of the Hawthorn Church of the Nazarene, including Hockenberry who began her ministry at the church in August 2019. She is also employed as a teacher at Leatherwood Academy in New Bethlehem and is currently on track to be ordained in the Church of the Nazarene in 2024.
“Today, our congregation is anywhere between 25 and 30 each week,” said Hockenberry, adding that a few of the current church families are descendants of the original church founders.
In addition to its weekly Sunday school and worship services, Hockenberry said the Nazarene church has taken on a very active role within the community, offering kids’ clubs, neighborhood outreach, food drives, craft shows and other events, and more.
The church hosts its annual Hometown Christmas Craft Show each fall and a community yard sale to help raise money for the building fund, and it coordinated with the Hawthorn Area Volunteer Fire Department to host a community block party in 2021.
Vacation Bible school has also resumed and a new Kids’ Club was started last September. The club, which is open to families of children from kindergarten through fifth grade, will return on the second and fourth Wednesdays beginning in September.
“We always welcome new kids to join,” Hockenberry said of the Kids’ Club, noting that younger children can attend with adult supervision and all parents are welcome to stay to enjoy an evening with their kids.
The church also offers a monthly women’s ministry, Friday night Bible studies and Sunday evening meetings. Hockenberry said that one reason for the multiple worship opportunities is to cater to the ever-changing needs of American families.
“I think for churches all over, families aren’t available Sunday mornings,” she said. “You have to be creative with when traditional church programming is offered to get people to come in.”
Hockenberry said, however, that the competition for time in families’ schedules is not the only challenge facing the church.
“Finances are always a problem for small churches,” she said, explaining that it is often a struggle to find the funds and manpower for the upkeep of the church building, as well as the parsonage and the social hall. But, she said, it always comes together. “When there’s a need, God just takes care of it.”
She also said that small congregations often find that their churches can offer more programs when they work together.
“We’ve learned that we have to partner with other churches,” she said. “That’s a beautiful thing that I think we should do more often.”
Reflecting on the church’s 90 years and looking to the future, Hockenberry said she would like to see “an explosion of families of all ages” in the church and the social hall continue to be used for even more community events.
“We want people to know that the church is a place where they can come and find people who care and love them and will lead them to Christ,” she said.
Hockenberry said that being a part of a church can really make a difference in a person’s life.
“People don’t understand the family that a church becomes,” she said, noting that members of a congregation are always there to encourage, lift up, learn from and provide accountability for one another.
“It’s a family that you can go to in times of need or in times of celebration,” she continued. “People need that godly influence and guidance in their lives.”
The Hawthorn Church of the Nazarene hosts Sunday school each week at 9:30 a.m., followed by the worship service at 10:45 a.m.
For more information on the church or its activities, visit the Hawthorn Church of the Nazarene on Facebook or call (814) 746-0245.
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