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City of Churches

Mt Carmel, Pennsylvania has often been referred to as 'The City of Churches'. Copyright 1999, KIRCHHOFF Consulting. All rights reserved.


 St Peter's Church 
Located at W Avenue
Built 1905



 St Peter and Paul Church 
Located at Avenue and Beech Streets


 Divine Redeemer Church 
Formerly Mother of Consolation (M.O.C.)Church. Located at Avenue and Poplar Streets
Built 1896



 St Matthew (Slovak) Evangelical Lutheran Church 
Located at 301 W Avenue


 Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church 
Located at 140 W Avenue

Built 1855

Grace Lutheran

Published On: Tuesday, October 31, 2000

By Kim Gaugler Staff Writer kim_g@newsitem.com MOUNT CARMEL -- It's a special year for the borough's oldest Protestant Church, but it's more than that. Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, 144 W. Avenue, will mark its 145th anniversary on All Saint Sunday this week. In doing so, however, the church will make a push to increase its membership and get more people into the congregation. The Rev. C. Albert Wagaman, the church's former pastor, will be present during the 10:45 a.m. service, along with current pastor the Rev. Charles A. Souders. A special dinner at Visintainers Motel will be attended by Bishop A. Donald Main of the Upper Susquehanna Synod. Grace Evangelical Lutheran has approximately 100 members, yet only 14 to 20 people attend weekly. Parishioners are attempting to gain membership like many other churches in the area. They blame the fall for the most part on young people moving out of the area. The church dates to May 18, 1855, when 15 Lutherans formed themselves into a congregation under the direction of the Rev. Charles J. Ehrehart, who was pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church of Shamokin. Two days later, the first communion was administered. In 1858, under the leadership of the Rev. Jacob F. Wampole, the Lutherans united with the German Reformed and elected a joint council. In the early days of the church, the congregation used German; it is not certain when English use began. The first church structure was dedicated in spring 1867. The present brick structure was erected in 1894 and the natural stone front placed in 1922. A Sunday school building was added in 1915-16. A special feature of the church is The All Saints Memorial Organ, installed by Fritzche Organ Co. of Allentown and dedicated during Grace Evangelical Lutheran's 125th anniversary in 1980. Efforts continue to keep the church current. Renovations are under way in the kitchen, and hymnals, titled 'With One Voice,' were recently purchased. Renovations to the Sunday school room have been completed after a fire destroyed that section of the church in the late 1970s. Also, the front lecture board was refurbished and the stained-glass windows are being re-leaded. Donations for the window project are being accepted. The Rev. Charles A. Souders has been serving the congregation as interim pastor since Feb. 1, 1987.



 St Paul's United Methodist Church 
Formerly St Paul's Evangelical Church. Locate at Avenue and Hickory Streets. The final service was on 2 July 2000

St. Paul's final service set Sunday
Published On: Saturday, June 24, 2000

By Andy Heintzelman News Editor andy_h@newsitem.com MOUNT CARMEL - Certainly, it will be an emotional day. The legacy of 140 years and the promise of a new beginning will create both tears and smiles as St. Paul's United Methodist Church conducts its final worship service at 11 a.m. Sunday. That historic moment precedes the official merger on Friday, when St. Paul's and First United Methoidst Church, the borough's two Methodist congregations, formally are recognized as one. The Rev. Michael Shaub, who already serves as pastor of both churches, is aware that parishioners will be paying quite a bit more attention to their surroundings as they gather for Sunday's ceremony at St. Paul's. 'Knowing the building will continue to be used for outreach and other community service makes it much more palatable for members,' the pastor said, referring to the planned purchase of the building by The Cornerstone, a nonprofit, tax-exempt corporation. Also, the congregation realize the promise of doing more as a merged congregation. Still, 'The hard part is leaving behind the memories ... those things that you can't ever quite replace,' he said. The congregation will have some help with cherishing the memories. The church has produced a 100-page photo album/story book with color pictures of everything from the church building to its stained-glass windows. The book will be distributed on Sunday to members who ordered it. In addition to the final worship service, 140 years of continuos ministry will be celebrated at a banquet at 2:30 p.m. that day at Lazarski's Banquet Hall, South Beech Street in Mount Carmel. Many former pastors are expected to participate and many members who live out of the area are expected to attend. St. Paul's had its beginning in 1860 as part of the Ashland circuit. The first services were held in homes until a two-story brick building was erected on the site of the present church at Avenue and Hickory Street. St. Paul's Church of the Evangelical Association became St. Paul's Evangelical Church in 1895. The cornerstone of the new church was laid in 1903 and the first service was held Jan. 17, 1905. The church became St. Paul's Evangelical United Brethren Church in 1946 when the Evangelical Church and United Brethren in Christ Church merged. Its name was changed to St. Paul's United Methodist Church in 1968 when the Evangelical United Brethren merged with the Methodist Church. The seeds of First UMC, 46 N. Hickory St., were sown in 1855 when the Methodist minister for the Catawissa Circuit was invited to Mount Carmel. The first official records of the church began in 1866 and the cornerstone of the first church was laid July 26, 1884. After the original two-story building was destroyed by fire in 1914, a Tudor-Gothic structure was built on the original grounds.



 Slovak Presbyterian Church 
This is currently an apartment building. Located at Avenue and Market Streets


 First Church of God 
Located at 129 W Second Street

First Church of God celebrates 117th year
Published On: Thursday, October 5, 2000

MOUNT CARMEL -- The Mount Carmel First Church of God will celebrate its 117th anniversary on Sunday during a combined worship service at 10 a.m. in the main sanctuary. The speaker for this special event will be the Rev. Rodney Henrie, former pastor of Grace Reformed and First Congregational United Church of Christ congregations in Mount Carmel. Special music will be provided by the First Church of God Girls' Chorus and Youth Orchestra. Following the service, a dinner will be served in the fellowship hall by volunteers from the church. Donations to this year's anniversary fundraiser will be used to purchase an electronic keyboard and MIDI sequencer for the sanctuary. The Mount Carmel First Church of God has maintained an evangelical ministry in Mount Carmel since 1883. The church has ministries to reach children, teen-agers and adults, including persons who are mentally challenged. The Mount Carmel First Church of God is located at 129 W. Second St. For more information, call the church at 339-5800 or send an e-mail to churchofgod@zionweb.org.



 St John the Baptist 
This former church is located at Second and Willow Streets
Built 1892



 United Brethern in Christ Church 
This is now the Polish Cultural Center. Located at Third and Vine Streets


 Grace United Church of Christ 
Formerly Grace Reformed Church. Located at Third and Market Streets


 St Michael's Orthodox Church 
Located at Avenue and Willow Streets


 Grace Baptist Church 
Located at 601 W Fifth Street


 Mennonite Church 
This building is used as a warehouse. Located at Fourth and Grape Streets


 St Stephen's Episcopal Church 
Located at Fourth and Maple Streets


St. Stephen's 100th nears

Published On: Tuesday, October 3, 2000


MOUNT CARMEL -- St. Stephen Episcopal Church is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

The unique church, located at Fourth and Maple Streets, invites the public to celebrate its history and existence for the past century.

The church was built by John L. Lewis, the famous national labor leader, as a memorial to his parents and wife. The cornerstone was laid on Oct. 17, 1900, and the church dedicated on March 11, 1901.

During construction of the church, the Carnegie family of Pittsburgh, famed for their wealth, were contacted by church members for a contribution. They responded by sending a pipe organ to the fledgling church.

The church's stained glass windows are also believed to be unmatched in the Anthracite Region.

Sunday, Oct. 15, St. Stephen's will hold a regular service at 8:30 a.m., followed by an organ recital at 12:30 p.m. An anniversary Eucharist will be celebrated at 1 p.m. Diocesan convocational ministerial clergy and spouses are invited to celebrate the Eucharist.







St. Stephen not taking its history for granted

Published On: Saturday, August 5, 2000
In The News-Item (Weekend Edition)

By Kim Gaugler

Staff Writer

kim_g@newsitem.com

MOUNT CARMEL -- St. Stephen Episcopal Church is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, but members aren't taking that long history for granted.

Church leaders are hoping to attract new members and make a strong start toward another 100 years.

'This church is such a piece of history,' said Rev. Tom Small, who noted that its membership has dropped to 30. 'It would be a shame to see it closed because there just aren't enough members.'

Gaining membership is one of St. Stephen's biggest goals. While not all the members are 102 years old like the oldest parishioner, Catherine Wilkinson, they need younger faces to fill the pews. The initial services of the Episcopal Church in Mount Carmel were held in 1869 in a room over David Heisler's store on Oak Street, where the First National Bank now stands.

During the early days of the mission, it was known as Emmanuel Church. One night, vandals broke all the windows with stones; members then decided that St. Stephen's would be a more fitting name since St. Stephen, a martyr, was stoned to death.

The church was built by John L. Lewis, the famous national labor leader, as a memorial to his parents and his wife. The cornerstone was laid on Oct. 17, 1900, and the church was dedicated on March 11, 1901.

During the construction of the current building, the famous millionaire Carnegie family from Pittsburgh was contacted by church members for a contribution. A pipe organ, also known as a tracker because of the way the keys are struck, was sent to the church from the Carnegie family. The organ, made by the Himmer Organ Co., Pekin, Ill., was originally powered by water to pump the bellows. The water engine was replaced by an electric motor more than 50 years ago.

One thing that makes St. Stephen's unique is the stained glass windows that are believed to be unmatched in the Anthracite Region. Each of the 17 windows contains either a figure or a biblical scene. In addition to the ornamentation and color, the stained-glass windows project double images. During the day, the window figures are projected to the interior of the church; at night, the figures are visible outside.

The anniversary will celebrate the day the cornerstone was laid. The feast of St. Stephen also will be celebrated during the 100th anniversary. The feast of St. Stephen is celebrated as a Holy Day of obligation and is actually celebrated on Dec. 26. However, members chose to celebrate early due to weather conditions and the hustle that is involved during the Christmas season.

The Rev. Timothy Small, Lancaster, is temporarily officiating services until the church finds a permanent priest. Small travels from Lancaster on Sundays and Thursdays to help churches in the Shamokin-Mount Carmel area.

Members who leave the area still send money or deceased members still leave their legacy, say St. Stephen members.

'Despite the fact that we're small in members, people leave their legacy to 'their' church,' said Faith Kirchhoff, an active church member.

Members of the community are asked to attend the anniversary and help celebrate the history behind St. Stephen. On Sunday, Oct. 15, there will be a special anniversary Mass at 1 p.m. It will include an organ recital by Tom Ferrick with an anniversary dinner following at Lazarski's Banquet Hall.

'The doors are always open,' Kirchhoff said about new members coming into the church.



 United Presbyterian Church 
Located at 100 E Fifth Street


 Holy Cross RC Church 
Located at Poplar and Sixth Streets
Built 1892



 The Jewish Temple 
Located on S Maple Street


 First Congregational United Church of Christ 
Formerly the First Congregational Church. Located at N Market Street


 ZION Primitive Methodist Church 
Located at N Market Street


 Our Lady of Mt Carmel 
Located at S Market Street
Built 1886

Our Lady church festival June 23-25
Published On: Tuesday, June 20, 2000

MOUNT CARMEL -- The Church Of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church will hold its annual Summer Festival Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the corner of Market and Fourth streets. There will be games, food, entertainment and live pony rides; bingo will be played in the social hall, which is air-conditioned. Here is the entertainment schedule for the festival: * Wednesday: Mike Wonsik will be on Viewpoint 148 on WISL-AM 1480 from 10 to 11 a.m. to talk about the festival. * Friday: pre-festival pierogie sale in the parish social hall, 2-4 p.m.; bring your own containers. 6 p.m., festival opens; 7-9 p.m., Oldies 95.3 WISL-FM, Shamokin will broadcast live. Rain date for this event will be Saturday at the same time. 8-11 p.m. Sound Express Sound System with Mike Wonsik will entertain. Saturday: 7-11 p.m., Sound Express Sound System with Mike Wonsik will entertain. Sunday: 6-11 p.m. Sound Express Sound System with Mike Wonsik will entertain. 9 p.m., raffle drawings and chancing of theme baskets.

Renovated church, new altar to be dedicated
Published On: Thursday, September 23, 1999

By Walt Kozlowski Assistant Editor MOUNT CARMEL - Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was built to the glory of God in 1888. Now, 111 years later, it is more glorious than ever. The crown of this glory - the church interior - has undergone a dramatic transformation during the $300,000 renovations project. Hidden or dimmed jewels in the crown now sparkle and treasures from other churches that were part of the 1995 merger add to its luster. 'We wanted to preserve as much of the original beauty as we could,' said Msgr. Lawrence Overbaugh, pastor. 'We tried to use things from the various churches (St. Joseph's in Mount Carmel, Locust Gap and Locust Dale and St. Ignatius in Centralia.)' And how do parishioners view the final result? 'Our people are just delighted,' said Msgr. Overbaugh. 'It was a lot of work, but it was worth it.' The renovated church and new altar will be dedicated Sunday at 11 a.m. at a Mass celebrated by the Most Rev. Nicholas C. Dattilo, Bishop of Harrisburg. A dedication dinner will be held Sunday, Oct. 24. Both the solemn and social celebrations are the results of hundreds of hours of planning and even more hours of construction, painting and decorating work that began with a initial report at a meeting of the parish Jan. 29, 1998. Although the renovations committee was formed on March 12, 1998, it took most of that year for that committee, the finance committee, parishioners and diocesan officials to lay the groundwork for the project. While Luigi Bracacliello Marble Work Inc., Milmay, N.J., began the extensive marble renovations and restoration in December 1998 and Larry Zsido Construction Co., Mount Carmel, started work on flooring in January, the painting part of the project did not start until after Easter this year. 'Because of the kindness of contractors adjusting their working schedules and procedures, we were able to have weekend liturgies in church throughout the renovations,' said Msgr. Overbaugh. 'While the scaffold was erected for painting and artwork after Easter, weekday liturgies were celebrated in the parish hall until the major painting was completed.' The pastor gave a brief rundown of what was done to the church interior, utilizing the artwork and assets already there and treasures from the other churches. 'The new altar was craft by Bracaliello Marble Works Inc. from marble taken from the main altar of St. Joseph's Church, Mount Carmel, and the Last Supper carving from the altar of sacrifice,' said Msgr. Overbaugh. 'A new pulpit was fabricated from marble from St. Joseph's Church with a panel of red marble from the altar of St. Ignatius, Centralia. 'The marble baptismal font from St. Joseph's Church, Mount Carmel, was cleaned and moved to Our Lady's The tabernacles from the former side altars were removed and the marble converted into bases for statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph on the former BVM altar. 'Marble was also taken from St. Josephs Church for the shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the rear of the church. Marble from the altar of St. Ignatius was used for a panel in the new pulpit and for pedestals for the statues of St. Ignatius in the rear of the church and the statue of the Infant of Prague in the side entrance of the church. These statues were repainted by local artist Mark Sassani. 'Paintings and art work were done by H.A. Smith Inc., Wilkes-Barre, by proprietors Joseph, Jim and Tom Dotzel. They did interior painting and decorating of the interior of the church, including new color stencils, gold leaf, imitation marble design and gold lacquer on organ pipes. 'Restoration of church paintings by artist Judith Dotzel included two Pentecostal paintings, 12 Old Testament prophets, Stations of the Cross with bases, and statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph which were brought from St. Joseph's Church, Locust Gap.' The Stations of the Cross, located between the church' magnificent stained glass windows, are among the most dramatic changes wrought by renovations. The statues depicting scenes of the final hours of Christ's life, had been painted bronze. Four layers of paint removal and a repainting in life-like colors later, the Stations of the Cross were transformed into 14 pieces of high quality artwork. 'Judy (Dotzel) just did a tremendous job,' said Msgr. Overbaugh. He also detailed some of the less artistic and more practical aspects of the renovation project. 'Structural support, new tile in the nave of the church, vestibule, sacristies, choir loft, wall panel wainscoting, construction of new reconciliation rooms and electrical repairs were done by Zsido Construction,' said Msgr. Overbaugh. That reconciliation room project uncovered another of the church' lost treasures when the contractor tried to open up a hole between the worship area and vestibule and discovered the outside wall of the original church and stained glass windows which had been covered over. Those windows are now featured in the reconciliation room. Five Carrier central air conditioning systems for 25-ton capacity were installed by Montour Service Co. Organ work was done by Robert Sides and Edward Dunlap. Gelnett & Associates, Northumberland, installed a new sound system consisting of 12 Canon V-100 speakers, mixer-amplifier, input for six speakers and other features. Other improvements included new kneelers for pews, new carpet in the aisles, new marble steps for the sanctuary. In addition, there are new vestments, vases, sanctuary lamp, liturgical books and articles, and statues of Mary and Joseph from St. Joseph's Church, Locust Dale, which were placed in the side entrance. Msgr. Overbaugh also cited the work done by parishioners John Taylor and John Hollis, including removal of paint from marble around base in sanctuary, refinishing of interior church doors, refinishing of pews and adjustment of kneelers, coordination of work with all contractors, erection of Giving Tree in vestibule, additional lighting and organizing women for weekly cleanup of the church. And as an added bonus, all of these improvements will be paid for with money parishioners and friends of the parish have either given or pledged to give. 'Parish finance committee approved a fund-raising project with a goal of $300,000,' said Msgr. Overbaugh. 'Pledges have exceeded that amount. To date, our people have given $230,000 in cash. The Giving Tree with special donors has been placed in the vestibule of the church.' He pointed out that before interior renovations began a new entrance was constructed on Park Street featuring stained glass windows from St. Ignatius Church. Other exterior improvements included a new roof, repairs to the pointing, and painting of woodwork and drywall. Now with everything just about complete, the old church is ready for a new millennium of giving glory to God.(News-Item photos/Jeremy Waugh)



 First UMC, M.C. 
First United Methodist Church. Located at N Hickory Street

Two shall become one with merger of Mount Carmel's U.M. churche
Published On: Friday, June 2, 2000

MOUNT CARMEL -- And the two shall become one. Mount Carmel's two United Methodist churches are in the processing of merging. Effective June 30, St. Paul's United Methodist Church, Avenue and Hickory Street, will merge with First United Methodist Church, 46 N. Hickory St. The Rev. Michael Shaub already serves as pastor of both churches. St. Paul's UMC building will be purchased by a new local nonprofit, tax-exempt corporation, The Cornerstone, and will continue to be used for current and new community outreach ministries. The congregations plan to finalize the merger June 18 at the 9:30 a.m. worship service at First UMC. St. Paul's UMC will hold a closing worship service in its sanctuary Sunday, June 25, at 11 a.m. Members will celebrate 140 years of continuous ministry 'preaching, teaching and reaching our community for Christ' that day at 2:30 p.m. at Lazarski's Banquet Hall, South Beech Street. Many former pastors are expected to participate in the service and many members who live out of the area are expected to attend. For more information concerning the United Methodist churches in Mount Carmel or about transitional events, call Rev. Shaub at 339-0511. St. Paul's had its beginning in 1860 as part of the Ashland circuit. The first services were held in homes until a two-story brick building was erected on the site of the present church. St. Paul's Church of the Evangelical Association became St. Paul's Evangelical Church in 1895. The cornerstone of the new church was laid in 1903 and the first service was held Jan. 17, 1905. The church became St. Paul's Evangelical United Brethren Church in 1946 when the Evangelical Church and United Brethren in Christ Church merged. Its name was changed to St. Paul's United Methodist Church in 1968 when the Evangelical United Brethren merged with the Methodist Church. The seeds of First UMC were sown in 1855 when the Methodist minister for the Catawissa Circuit was invited to Mount Carmel. The first official records of the church began in 1866 and the cornerstone of the first church was laid July 26, 1884. After the original two-story building was destroyed by fire in 1914, a Tudor-Gothic structure was built on the original grounds. Delegates from both churches, as well as United Methodist churches in Ash Grove, Aristes, Coal Township, Elysburg, Irish Valley, Kulpmont, Overlook, Ranshaw, Trevorton and Wilburton, are attending the annual Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist church in King of Prussia this week. More than 1,000 delegates assembled Thursday for three days of praise, prayer, service and celebration at Valley Forge Convention Center with the conference theme 'Go Make Disciples: Centers for a Spiritual Movement.' Guided by Bishop Peter D. Weaver, the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference steps into the new century as a time of transformation, growth and reconciliation for the United Methodist



 Holiness Christian Church 
Later housed the Evangelical Christian Church. Located at N Chestnut Street


 St Joseph's RC Church 
Located at Hickory and Sixth Streets
Built 1875