Canon Maria Tjeltveit
Church of the Mediator, Allentown


All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer…
Acts 1:14

The first thing that the apostles do after Jesus’ ascension is to gather together and pray, Acts 1:12-14.

The need to be devoted to prayer is strong in some people. It was for a Swedish Lutheran congregation which formed in 1720, in what would become Douglassville. When they couldn’t get Swedish clergy to serve them, they joined the Anglican Church so they would have clergy to help them continue to worship. But when clergy from the Church of England couldn’t get there, they were served at times by Henry Melchoir Muhlenberg, referred to by some as the patriarch of the Lutheran Church in America. Apparently, ecumenism was alive and well in the 1700’s!

This history of St. Gabriel’s, Douglassville, the oldest church in our diocese, shows the adaptive nature of that congregation, which may be one of its hallmarks. It was one of the churches that helped found the Diocese of Pennsylvania, as well as the Episcopal Church. The church could be caught up in its illustrious past but instead it is forward looking. Since 2000, St. Gabriel’s founded both the Good Shepherd Learning Center, for infants through 12 years old, on the church property, and Keystone Villa for senior citizens on a hayfield they purchased next door.

Prayer is still at the heart of their church and their decision-making as they embrace the vision of a pilgrim church, to learn and do the work of Jesus.

How does prayer shape your life and the life of your congregation?