STANHOPE -The choirs at the Stanhope Parish will present a Sunday afternoon concert on Nov. 6 in honor of the 40th anniversary of the founding of the church, and the community is invited to share in the celebration that begins at 2 p.m. Following numbers by the hand bell choir and the vocal choir, there will be a reception in the church fellowship hall.
The congregation came about back in 1971 when two Stanhope churches merged. It was first mainly a financial arrangement that allowed the Grace United Methodist Church and the Stanhope Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to share costs. Although one minister served both congregations, for some years there was a service at each building every Sunday. Over the years that gradually evolved through alternating services each month at both buildings to meeting only in the Christian church building.
The yoked congregation has always maintained ties to both denominations.
Members of the Stanhope Parish will celebrate the church’s 40th anniversary Sunday.
In 1996, the decision was made to vacate the Methodist building, the first church built in Stanhope and for generations a familiar landmark on the town's main street. It was built in 1889 and demolished more than a century later in 1998.
The Christian church building, located on the same street just a few blocks west, was built in 1899 at the corner of what is now Grace and Main Street. It is that building, remodeled and updated through the years, that is home to the Stanhope Parish today.
Music has played an important part in the parish over the years, helping the two congregations meld into one. One of the first joint efforts was a choir with singers from both congregation, a tradition that continues today. Hand bells were added in 1994. The three-octave choir has been active ever since, practicing and performing regularly.
"We are very fortunate to have so much musical talent in this small congregation," said the Rev. Suzie Moore, who has served the 180-member church since 2000. "So highlighting our choirs seemed like the perfect choice to celebrate our anniversary. We have five pianists in our congregation who alternate playing on Sunday mornings, and they will all participate in the concert. We hope everyone will come to enjoy the day with us."
Moore said that the reception following the concert will be the first time that "company" has been invited to see the church's newly remodeled fellowship hall that was severely damaged by flooding in August, 2010. New walls and flooring and furniture have given the area a much-needed facelift.
It's not always been a smooth journey for the Stanhope Parish to reach this milestone as a congregation.
"As a church, we've come very far in the past forty years," Moore said. "I'm sure there were some who wondered how they were ever going to make this work. But they got up and made it happen."
Contact Billie Shelton at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 832-4350.