Rembering 9/11: Chuck Freese keeps southern Chester County safe

AGREM President Chuck Freese holds up an old newspaper article outlining the function of the organization in keeping the region safe. Photo by Chris Barber

Harvest Community Presbyterian Church in the Dilworthtown section of Birmingham Township had been losing membership -- big time.

The church, formerly known as Dilworthtown Presbyterian was down to about only a dozen members when the final Sunday service was held May 21 this spring.

But the doors will be reopening for worship come Sunday, Sept. 10, because Westminster Presbyterian Church on Route 202 in Westtown Township is taking over the reins to bring life back into what will now be called Dilworthtown Community Church.

A picnic and open house is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 9 at 1385 Birmingham Road.

The Rev. Don Lincoln, the lead minister at Westminster said Dilworthtown Community Church will be run as a satellite worship location until it can stand on its own. There is no timetable.

One of the former and soon to be returning congregation members, Maryann Prabel of Chadds Ford Township, is more than just pleased.

"I'm thrilled about this," Prabel said. "The congregation will continue to do what God intended it to do -- spread the Gospel."

Prabel has been attending church services at Westminster, while others have been going to other churches since Harvest Community shut down.

She said the former congregation was aging and there were few programs for younger families and individuals. As the young ones found other congregations, some of the older ones were dying.

"There were only about 12 of us left," she said.

But now she is looking forward to returning to her old church on Birmingham Road with its new minister, Tony Sundermeier, who Prabel referred to as a "really promising young man."

Sundermeier has been the associate pastor for youth and young adults at Westminster Presbyterian for three years.

He was in Germany and unavailable for comment, but Lincoln said Prabel's comments were both a "present reality and a future promise."

He said Sundermeier, 31, is a "gifted preacher ... in the top 1 percent in his age category.

"It will give that setting one of the best shots it could have in so far as having a very engaging, very savvy preacher as the dominant figure. If the ministry under Tony's leader ship is unable to draw from the community, I don't know that there's anybody who can do it," said Lincoln.

Lincoln said that Westminster will e sending about a dozen families to the renamed Dilworthtown Community Church to serve in a leadership capacity for at least one year. And in addition to the leadership group and a new lead pastor, the church will also get a new fulltime music leader.

Lincoln said there will be four areas of primary focus: resuming worship services; establishing a Children's Ministry with a Sunday School for youngsters through fifth grade; holding small group monthly meetings; and having Saturdays of Service.

Saturdays of Service, Lincoln said, would one Saturday per month dedicated to community outreach. As an example, he said, members of all ages, including kids, might go to the Chester County Food Bank and pack up food for distribution.

"Once a month our job is to be the church out in the world so we're going to go clean this or do that or we're going to clean something. Once a month the intent is to be out in the community and serving," said Lincoln.

Dilworthtown Presbyterian was founded in 1878, Lincoln said, but the name was changed to Harvest Community in 1998. Discussions about Westminster taking over the operation of the church for about five years.

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