Monday, December 22, 2014

The end of an era celebrated

The Shared Ministry was a congregation formed in 1979 when Park Street United Methodist Church and Fourth United Church of Christ came together to function as one congregation. The two churches were located one block away from each other on Sixteenth Street in Harrisburg.

The Fourth German Reformed Church of Harrisburg, located on the corner of Market and Sixteenth Streets, was founded in 1893 and eventually became Fourth Reformed, Fourth Evangelical and Reformed, and Fourth United Church of Christ.

Park Street United Evangelical Church, located on the corner of Park and Sixteenth Streets, was founded in 1895 and eventually became Park Street Evangelical United Brethren, and Park Street United Methodist Church.

The two congregations did many things together and were firmly committed to serving the Allison Hill neighborhood — a neighborhood which increasingly became the area of highest crime and highest poverty in the city.

For many years after its inception, the newly formed congregation worshipped in the two buildings, alternating monthly. The Park Street Building was sold in 2002 and all of the ministry thereafter occurred in the Fourth Church building on Market Street. In 2009 the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg purchased the Fourth Church building, and the two congregations — the Shared Ministry and the Unitarians — entered into a covenant with one another, sharing the building and doing community outreach together.

On Sunday November 2, 2014, The Shared Ministry had a closing service. Participants in the service included Rev. Dr. Thomas Salsgiver, a founding pastor of The Shared Ministry, Rev. William Rader (TSM pastor 1992-1998), Rev. Richard Gordon (TSM pastor since 2009), 90-plus-year church member Betty Scheetz, Judi Shepler, a life-long member of Fourth UCC/TSM, organist Anna Royer, who grew up in Fourth UCC, and the Unitarian church choir.

The Unitarian church will remain in the building and continue many of the outreach ministries previously associated with The Shared Ministry and its predecessor bodies.

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