HERITAGE SUNDAY 2015

“Welcoming the Stranger”

 

This year’s theme focuses on the role immigration, hospitals, orphanages, education, etc. have played in the history of the United Methodist Church.

 

     Korean United Methodism.  The Korean United Methodist Church, one of the most dynamic branches of the denomination, has a congregation, Hope Korean UMC of Mechanicsburg, within the bounds of the Susquehanna Conference.  The work in Korea began with a missionary from Concord, Franklin County PA. Robert Maclay (1824-1907) graduated from Dickinson College in 1845 and joined the Baltimore Conference on trial in 1846. In 1847 he left the Gettysburg circuit to go as a missionary to China, which had just opened for Methodist work. Robert stayed there for 27 years, created a Chinese alphabetic dictionary, wrote a book on life with the Chinese, and organized the first Methodist class and church in the Chinese Empire.  By 1872 the work in China was well-established, and Robert was a member of the General Conference which named him as the superintendent and first missionary for the newly organized work in Japan. While there, he translated a large part of the New Testament into Japanese and personally secured permission from the king of Korea'sHermit Kingdom” for Christian missionaries to enter that land for the first time.  He remained until he had assisted a committee in translating the New Testament into Korean and wrote or edited other literature for the infant church there.  His picture and an extended obituary appear on the front page of "The Christian Advocate" for September 12, 1907. And so it was a missionary from our Conference who organized the first Methodist congregations in China, Japan and Korea.

 

HERITAGE SUNDAY 2015

“Welcoming the Stranger”

 

This year’s theme focuses the role immigration, hospitals, orphanages, education, etc. have played in the history of the United Methodist Church.

 

     Evangelical Hospital  in Lewisburg PA.  Ever since the days of John Wesley, United Methodism has stood at the forefront when it comes to providing medical care to those in need.  Within the Susquehanna Conference, the Evangelical branch of our denomination has a lasting legacy in this area.  When the Central Pennsylvania Conference of the United Evangelical Church purchased the Eli Slifer mansion and 189 acres north of Lewisburg PA in July 1915, a dream long in the making was about to become true.  The first older residents were received into the home in May 1916, and the first children were received into the orphanage in November 1921.  When a second dormitory was erected in 1926, it included an infirmary for the residents.  As the capabilities of the new infirmary far exceeded the medical needs of the residents, patients were received from the community – and the demand was incredible.  Soon three doctors were being employed full time and major surgery was being performed. The Evangelical Home officially turned over responsibility for this growing medical facility to the community in 1949, but it was obvious that a permanent hospital building was needed.  In March 1953, Evangelical Community Hospital opened at its present location.  As reported on the Hospital web page, “Although church affiliation had ended, the Hospital retained the name out of appreciation for the kind donation of the land on which it was built as well as equipment and financial support.”

 

 

HERITAGE SUNDAY 2015

“Welcoming the Stranger”

 

This year’s theme focuses on the role immigration, hospitals, orphanages, education, etc. have played in the history of the United Methodist Church.

 

Scranton Italian Mission.  United Methodists within the boundaries of the present Susquehanna Conference have always reached out to the waves of immigrants our region has experienced over the years and to the various ethnic groups represented.  This has been particularly true within the Italian community.  At one time there were Italian Methodist congregations and church buildings in Altoona and Wilkes-Barre, and the Neighborhood Center in Harrisburg was originally predominantly an Italian mission. For Heritage Sunday 2015, we concentrate on the ministries begun about 1910 as to serve Italian speaking persons in North Scranton.  By 1920, the Italian mission of the Court Street church occupied the building that is now 1216 Short Avenue.  This was the remodeled original Park Place Methodist [now Court Street UMC] church building – moved from the corner of Court Street and Short Avenue when the present Court Street church building was erected in 1891.  In early summer 1921 a building on North Main Avenue was purchased and “reconstructed and improved” by the Italian mission of the Elm Park church.  That property was used until April 1945 when, upon the death of longtime (1928-45) pastor Vincent Zaffiro, the congregation was merged into Elm Park and the parsonage at 1403 W. Gibson Street was sold.   The newly chartered West Scranton Veterans Association purchased the North Main Avenue church building in 1945 and converted it into a modernized post. The structure was torn down in 1998 and eventually replaced by a shopping plaza in 2008.

 

HERITAGE SUNDAY 2015

“Welcoming the Stranger”

 

This year’s theme focuses on the role immigration, hospitals, orphanages, education, etc. have played in the history of the United Methodist Church.

 

United Methodist Home for Children.  This ministry was started by the Central Pennsylvania Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1917 as “The Christ Home” to minister to the needs of orphaned and neglected children.  The name was changed to “The Methodist Home for Children” in 1919 when the Mechanicsburg building, now a private residence, at 318 W. Main Street in Mechanicsburg was purchased.  The facility operated at that location until the 163 acre Rupp farm between Mechanicsburg and Shiremanstown was purchased in 1921 and opened for occupancy in 1926.  While the Home is no longer an orphanage or an operating farm, it continues to offer a residential treatment-oriented program for troubled children and youth – as well as out-patient family counseling and other services.  As the Home continues to evolve to meet the needs of the twenty-first century, it has since September 2014 become one of the facilities selected to house the “unaccompanied immigrant children” entering the United States from Central America.  Qualified Spanish-speaking persons have been hired to assist in the ministry, and the average length of stay for these children has been 28 days.  Dedicating a portion of its capacity to this particular crisis has not detracted from the other programs of the Home, but it has re-affirmed Methodism’s commitment since the time of John Wesley to offer Christ to the suffering and disenfranchised persons of the world.