The Keeper’s Log

Happy 100th Birthday HFCOG!
In “Lighthouses and Lightships of the United States” George R Putnam writes: “

The lighthouse and the lightship appeal to the interest and better instinct of man because they are symbolic of never-ceasing watchfulness, of steadfast endurance in every exposure of wide spread helpfulness.”  .

When Putnam wrote those words in 1917 about the “never-ceasing watchfulness, of steadfast endurance” the Hanover First Church of God was established to serve as a beacon of hope and a small group of people began to meet in the Grand Army of the Republic room on the third floor at 14 Center Square. In those first four years the congregation was under the leadership of Pastor F.P. Broske as they gathered amidst memorabilia from the war between the states to worship God and hear His word proclaimed. When I first arrived in Hanover there was an elderly man who shared with me how his mother would play piano for the silent movies on Saturday night, then play for worship Sunday morning. The muskets and sabers that decorated the walls must have reminded them that God’s Word directs us to put on the full armor of God for we are involved in a struggle “not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”.

In 1921 property was purchased along Frederick Street for, what in those days was referred to as a “bethel” meaning “house of God” to be constructed.  The congregation met in a small temporary wooden structure as funds were raised and plans were laid for a permanent building under the leadership of Pastor Jonas Martin and Pastor Clarence H. Weigle. In my first years at HFCOG as pastor I heard stories from several of our older members who remembered attending services in that plywood structure they referred to as “the tabernacle”. They recalled how in the winter there was only one small cook stove to provide heat so everyone arrived early in the hope of having a seat near the stove.

In 1927 a new building was dedicated to God’s glory. What a coincidence that during the battle of Hanover, on the eve of the battle at Gettysburg, Union cavalry had occupied this very same spot. They were involved in a great conflict between North and South, now this congregation would take up position on that same spot in a conflict between light and darkness, between the Kingdom of God and the kingdoms of this world.

In the next forty years there would be eleven different pastors who would serve the congregation. Although the congregation continued to be small, the people were faithful and just as George Putnam described lighthouses as demonstrating “steadfast endurance in every exposure of wide spread helpfulness” the congregation stood firm through times of blessing and trial. Just as a lighthouse faithfully shines its light in all kinds of weather, HFCOG continued to offer the good news of Jesus Christ and faithfully serve for the glory of God.

It was under the leadership of Pastor Kenneth E. Henry from 1968-1971 that the church saw its next major building project with the addition of an educational wing to accommodate the growing congregation. Under the direction of Pastor Henry’s leadership the church developed a strong children and youth emphasis that drew in many families, some of whom attend to this day.

When Pastor Henry answered the call of God to another ministry work the church was under the care of an interim pastor for one year until Pastor Alvin C. Cott was called as the pastor of HFCOG. Pastor Cott faithfully served the congregation from 1973 to 1989, longer than any previous pastor had served. During the time of his leadership a strong music ministry was developed under the direction of his wife Barbara. Pastor Cott had a powerful impact and influence on the spiritual growth of many who still serve as leaders in the church and some who serve in other churches.

When Pastor Cott was called to serve at another church, I was blessed to be called as pastor of HFCOG this being my first and only full time pastoral position. I have been blessed to watch in amazement what God has done over the years here as He continues to build on the “never-ceasing watchfulness, of steadfast endurance” of the folks who have come before us.

Like the great roll call of faith in Hebrews chapter eleven that speaks of a “great cloud of witnesses” I see those who have served the Hanover First Church of God over the years as building on that foundation laid in Jesus Christ and God continues to build on the works they have done. God’s Spirit continues to use the “steadfast endurance” of so many as HFCOG continues to “serve as a lighthouse offering a beacon of hope”. His blessing led to the congregation growing to a point that forced us to sell our original building and in 1997 move to our current facility.

God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” and we witnessed the incredible working of His Holy Spirit as the congregation continued to grow and we conducted several more building projects to accommodate that growth.

My prayer is that we will continue to demonstrate the “never-ceasing watchfulness, of steadfast endurance in every exposure of wide spread helpfulness” of a lighthouse. May we never forget that our mission is “to serve as a lighthouse, offering a beacon of hope by bringing people to Christ and strengthening believers in their faith to develop a dynamic growing relationship with God through biblical teaching, healthy relationships, and compassionate service”. 

As we faithfully look to God for direction and strength, who knows what the next 100 years (providing Jesus waits that long until He returns) will hold for HFCOG. What I do know is that “it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2) so let us be faithful in carrying our mission just as those who have come before us have done.

 

Serving Him Together with you,

Pastor Jerry