History

"God is our refuge and our strength." - Psalm 46:1

    Advent Lutheran Church is a friendly community of faith in the Westtown area of Chester County.  This caring community met to worship for the first time in October of 1966 at the Goshen Fire Hall.  By the summer of 1967, under the leadership of the Rev. William Hauser, the congregation had already experienced significant growth and had hosted its first Vacation Bible School. 


    It was also during this year that church leaders ventured out to an open field south of West Chester Pike, where they found four acres of land available for purchase at the intersection of Green Lane and Route 352, the location of our current church building.   Groundbreaking took place in December of 1969.  The people of Advent were worshiping in a church of their own in the spring of 1970.  Pastor Hauser and those charter members (some of whom continue to worship at Advent Church today) are to be honored for their commitment and vision.

    The Rev. Ralph Petersen was called to serve as Advent’s Pastor in 1973 and served the congregation faithfully for 22 years.  During these years the construction of a second building unit, including our present worship space, took place.  This space was a labor of love, with stonework laid by members of the church, and was dedicated in September of 1981.  In 1995, our third building unit (Social Hall, Youth Room, and Kitchen) was completed under the leadership of Pastor Petersen and associate pastor, the Rev. Jo Ann Wilhelmson.

  During these years, in addition to two expansions, there were an increasing number of opportunities for growth as disciples of Christ. The adding of the position of Director of Volunteer Ministries helped members identify their spiritual gifts and ways that they might serve within the congregation and beyond. Lay leadership grew. Long range planning was a tremendous asset in giving direction and focus for moving forward.

  Outreach sharing the Good News of the Gospel within the community was key. Many came to worship and to call Advent their faith home. Small group ministries grew, touching the lives of families with young children, families, young singles, single again, senior citizens, etc. Youth ministry expanded with groups from elementary through college being active. Junior and Senior Youth and the Confirmation classes participated in annual retreats. Adult retreats were held as well. After the building of the new fellowship hall/gym, Kids' Club was begun on Wednesday evening. During this time choirs met and service projects were done. Mid week Bible study and several choices for adult education on Sunday mornings enhanced spiritual growth for many. There are six members from Advent that went on to to become ordained ministers in the ELCA.

  Commitment to the wider church, with a tithe of our offerings, support to Lutheran World Relief and a mission congregation helped the congregation to grow in caring. Advent helped to settle an immigrant family from Poland and also, later, an Amerasian family. Many many members made it possible for this to happen through their tremendous commitment of time.

  Blood drives, food baskets, adopting of families at Christmas provided more local opportunities for outreach. A care giving group was formed. Advent's Boy Scout troop and Advent's preschool touched countless children. The men's soft ball team created community and lots of fun was had. The creation of FEAST groups (Friends Eating and Sharing Together) provided fellowship beyond the day to day ministries of the church.

    Throughout the years, Advent has remained faithful in caring for our surrounding community, providing outreach to those in need in the name of Jesus Christ under the leadership of Pastor David McGettigan, and in August, 2003, Pastor William Mueller who served as Advent's Pastor until January, 2010. During Pastor McGettigan's pastorate the parish house across Green Lane and 1.5 acres of property were acquired. During Bill Mueller's pastorate, Advent received new members and younger families became more active. The ELW hymnal was introduced along increased participation by children in worship, children's musicals and a combined communion breakfast service. Adult education opportunities were expanded with a weekly Bible study and monthly men's Bible study breakfast. Advent's "Stephen Ministry" also started in these years, the preschool program was strengthened to better prepare children for Kindergarten, confirmation was revitalized and our relationship with Bear Creek Camp expanded. After years of deferred maintenance, major property issues were addressed and a new playground and outdoor chapel were created.

    We welcomed Interim Pastor, Reverend Donna M. Wright on February 19, 2010 to provide leadership and guidance to the congregation through the transition of selecting a new pastor. Pastor Wright worked with us through December, 2010.
 
    On January 1, 2011 Pastor Ralph Petersen was hired to serve as our supply pastor, providing us with Sunday worship, confirmation class instruction, and emergency pastoral care.  We were thankful for the opportunity to have a retired pastor who was able to serve at Advent while we continued our journey through the Call process of securing the next permanent pastor for Advent. 
 
    On Sunday, November 6, 2011, The Reverend Christopher J. Franz presided at worship, followed by a Congregational Meeting to vote on whether to extend the call to Pastor Franz to be the next Pastor at Advent Lutheran Church.  The vote was unanimous to extend the call and on January 15, 2012, Pastor Chris began his ministry at Advent Lutheran Church.

   Since that time, Advent's attendance in worship has grown by nearly 50% as nearly 100 adults and children have been received into membership. Worship has been transformed through projecting the entire service on a screen, enabling worshipers of all ages, including guests, to more fully participate. In 2016, a Children's Chime Group was added to our musical offerings which include Praise Team, Choir, Bell Choir and Children's Choir. Our Praise Team has grown to include a larger number of children and young adults, and has increased their participation in worship. Our new director of music leads the praise team and we now have a separate organist to support a greater variety of music. We anticipate congregational approval in mid 2017 to totally renew our worship space with new pews and some chairs, increased altar area rail/new platform and glass entry doors to make our space more welcoming and accessible. This will complete numerous cosmetic improvements/repainting that have occurred throughout our facility in the past five years, including the 2017 renovation of our outdoor chapel and preschool/Sunday AM private restroom as Eagle Scout Troop Projects. Our Christian Preschool has expanded its offerings, adding afternoon care. Our youth ministry has been invigorated through the addition of annual retreats to Wildwood, the Harvey Cedars Bible Conference, as well as the week long Appalachia Service Project mission trip (financially supported by numerous fundraisers supported by the congregation and member donations) and the expansion of our annual Bear Creek Camp Retreat and much larger participation in the ELCA youth Gathering. Our Sunday School has grown by more than 25% with our Jr. High/Sr. High class being the largest! We have added quarterly Cross Generational Worship Services to our Sunday School, bringing all generations together in a totally new format that combines Christian Education with Worship. We also welcomed a new Stephen ministry leader and it has been proposed that we create a new Coordinator of Care and Connections staff position to help us more fully connect with each other and our community. We have long shared our facility with the West Chester Chinese Church, A.A. and Champion Martial Arts. However, in the past 2 years, we have literally opened up our wonderful facility to support community groups such as Fit4Mom, Bent on Better, Soccer Shots, WC Rugby Club practice, Upward Basketball, Condo Association Meetings, Pinewood Derby for several new scout troops and Babywearer's International. Additionally, we now host 2 flea markets and craft fairs each year. In 2016 we opened our large parking lot for use by the West Chester Area School District as their school bus transfer station and this arrangement continues during the construction of a new Giant Supermarket. In the summer of 2017, we will launch a New Community Garden, built as a girl scout project, to grow fresh vegetables for the West Chester Food Cupboard to expand our continuous support of this ministry. We partnered, for the first time in 2017, with Rise Up Against Hunger, paying for and assembling 10,000 meals for some of the most impoverished people around the world. This will now be an annual event! Finally, as the 2017-2018 school year begins we will launch a new Before and After School Care program, serving Penn Wood Elementary school and our preschool, with busing provided by the West Chester Area School District. Switching from fluorescent/incandescent lighting to LED lighting, in partnership with PECO (include link) has made us a much greener congregation as has beginning to host community paper recycling. Finally, the creation of numerous Perennial Gardens surrounding the church and parish house have made Advent a wonderful habitat for birds, especially yellow finches.

   Our mission continues well into the 21st Century as baptized people of God committed to Worship, Invite, Nurture, and Serve. Join us as we celebrate 50 years of history and embrace the future!

 

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