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There is no doubt this is a whole
new world for Episcopalians...
T. Scott Allen, Rector St. Elizabeth's Church
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  CHURCH  
  St. Elizabeth's Episcopal Church  
  LOCATION (click link for demographic summary)  
  Schnecksville, PA 18078  
  CONGREGATION SIZE  
  51-100  
  REGIONAL BODY (click link for website)  
  Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem  
  FEATURED RESOURCE (click link to learn more)  
  Ministry Area Profile  
  FULL STORY (click link to read more)  
  Oh Little Town of Schnecksville  
  MINISTRY SUMMARY
 
Successful new church
plant with relocation of
existing congregation
 
Change process aided by Ministry Area Profile (MAP)
 
Church leadership
committed to prayer
 
Congregation prayed "Prayer
of Jabez" for 30 days
 
New location identified by Diocese using Percept
 
Interim vicar allowed to
become full-time rector,
called by congregation
 
     
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l Oh Little Town of Schnecksville l
Near Bethlehem, a church is born. When a 100-year old parish is perishing, what can save it? Lots of prayer and a good MAP to show them the way. . .
On a tiny one-way street some 15 miles west of Bethlehem, PA, sat the incredible shrinking Episcopal congregation of St. Elizabeth's. Shrinking because most people in the town didn't know, or didn't care, they were there; incredible because despite the odds against their survival, this remnant of 40 or so people—most of whom were over the age of 50, would make a decision that others rarely find the courage to make.

"You can't just go along and keep doing what you're doing and expect to survive," their interim vicar, T. Scott Allen, told them. "You have to take a serious look at yourself, and your neighborhood, then decide who you are and what you are going to do."

After that "do or die" admonition, the congregation agreed to do some serious soul searching using a Prayer of Jabez group study* to help them discover who they were while using demographics to help them determine where they should be. Their choices soon became clear: 1) stay and keep on doing what they were doing; 2) hire a part-time priest while the elderly folks came up with some miraculous ministry idea that would make the people flood through the doors; 3) close and be intentional about it—farming members out to other Episcopal churches; 4) form a joint congregation with the local Lutheran church with whom they had shared various ministries; or 5) change location all together.

It was the fifth option—changing location all together—they would eventually opt for. It would be a decision that would bring both profound sadness and yet unexpected joy. -Jenni Keast
There's more. . . read the full story!
*The Prayer of Jabez Bible Study; Bruce Wilkinson, Multnomah Publishers Inc. 2001
©  COPYRIGHT 2008 PERCEPT GROUP, INC.
GO TO THE STORY ARCHIVE
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