Canon Maria Tjeltveit
Church of the Mediator, Allentown
“The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will,
to see the Righteous One and to hear his own voice;
for you will be his witness to all the world
of what you have seen and heard.”
These are the words that Paul recalls Ananias saying to him after Paul’s encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 22). Paul recounts this story as he speaks to the large crowd that had risen up against him. The crowd is quiet until Paul tells about being sent by God to the Gentiles. Then they cry out against him again. The soldiers begin to flog Paul, who asks why they are treating a Roman citizen this way. When the tribune hears that Paul is a Roman citizen, the tribune is afraid because they have mistreated a citizen, whose rights are much greater than non-citizens. It is Paul’s citizenship that will lead to his eventual martyrdom in Rome, rather than in Jerusalem.
As I was reading Paul’s words about seeing the literally blinding light from Jesus, the words of “Amazing grace” came to my mind. Today, we highlight Grace Church, Kingston, and its neighbor, Holy Cross Church, Wilkes-Barre. Both churches are dedicated to witnessing to what they have seen and heard.
Grace Church began with a service on a front porch of an unfinished home, in 1892. They built a stone Gothic church during the Depression, finishing it in 1930. Above the red front doors of the church is carved, “Grace and Peace from God our Father and our Lord, Jesus Christ.” The parish emphasizes that sense of welcome in their hospitality, fellowship, and worship. Their commitment to children is evidenced in a beautiful Atrium created for Godly Play, their memorial garden offers peace and respite, and music is a highlight of the Sunday Choral Eucharist.
Holy Cross began as two churches: St. James’, Pittston, and Calvary, Wilkes-Barre. St. James’ was formed in 1848, and moved several times; finally forced to abandon their building in 1973 due to severe mine subsidence. Calvary began in 1850 and the church was built in 1894. In 1974, Bishop Gressle led the people of St. James to Calvary, to worship together. In 1980, the congregations officially became one parish: Holy Cross Church. Today, the people of Holy Cross are devoted to deepening their spiritual growth through worship, ministry with youth, and outreach. They currently host the Diocesan Youth Council, engage the Orthodox community, and find inspiration in the words and prayers of the early Church Fathers. They witness to ancient truths and practices in a contemporary world.
What have you seen and heard that you want to share with others?