A Tamaqua man who spent 50 years in ordained ministry will be honored during a service on Sunday and the public is invited to attend.

The career of the Rev. David H. Knoebel will be celebrated during a service set for 3 p.m. on June 5 at St. John's United Church of Christ, 150 Pine Street, Tamaqua.

From the start, Knoebel seemed destined for a career in service to his fellow man.

The son of the Rev. and Mrs. Arthur D. Knoebel, he was born in Columbia, Pa., near Berwick. His family moved to Tamaqua when he was just seven, and he grew up in the parsonage of St. John's Evangelical and Reformed Church where his father served as pastor.

He graduated from Tamaqua High School in 1954, Franklin and Marshall College in 1958, and Lancaster Theological Seminary in 1961. In 1973 he also received a Master's degree in Sacred Theology from Lancaster Seminary.

He was ordained on June 18, 1961, and served as pastor of Calvary United Church of Christ in Barto, Pa., from 1961-69 during which time a new house of worship was erected. From 1969-85 he was senior pastor of St. John's United Church of Christ in Emmaus. From 1985 until his retirement in 1998, he was pastor of the Mahoning Charge of the United Church of Christ which consisted of Zion's Stone Church, Snyders, St. Peter's, Mantzville, and St. John's, New Mahoning. In 1985-86 Ben Salem, Andreas, was also a part of that charge.

During his years of active ministry he served a term as secretary of Penn Northeast Conference, twice served on its board of directors, chaired the budget committees of both Penn Northeast and Penn Southeast Conferences, was twice a delegate to General Synod, was a corporate member of the United Church Board for World Ministries for six years, chaired the chaplaincy committee and then served for eight years on the board of trustees of Cedar Crest College.

"I thoroughly enjoyed my years of active ministry," says Knoebel, Hometown. "I always wanted to be a minister and I enjoyed every minute of it," says Knoebel. He gives much credit to the loving support of his wife for his successful career.

On June 24, 1961, he married Beverley Barton from Hometown, a Tamaqua High graduate, who was his partner in life and in ministry for the past fifty years. A graduate of Kutztown University, she was first an elementary school teacher and then served as reference librarian at Muhlenberg College until her retirement.

In an interesting side note, Knoebel's service to his fellow man actually began earlier than 50 years ago.

When in high school, Knoebel took a job as Tamaqua's Western Union delivery boy.

"I earned $2 a week," he recalls.

His job entailed traveling afoot up and down the streets and mountains of the community to deliver messages that had arrived via telegraph.

On one occasion, Knoebel delivered a key missive related to a potential miners' strike that threatened to shut down the local economy. The message was from John Lewis, president, United Mineworkers of America, and was delivered to the Tamaqua UMWA office.

"The mines were going to close," Knoebel says, noting the importance of that particular message.

The job as a telegram deliveryman was once a vital part of everyday communications and a job with much responsibility, which may have helped Knoebel, in some ways, to prepare for a lifetime devotion to the ministry.

Sunday's service will be conducted by the Rev. Paul Sherry, who will travel to Tamaqua with his wife Mary from the Washington, D. C. area. Sherry is a Tamaqua native, a 1951 graduate of Tamaqua High, who became national president of the United Church of Christ, a post he served for many years.

Sherry took part in Knoebel's ordination 50 years ago and is the sole surviving participant of that event.