For decades, West Penn Township businessman Richard Meiser devoted time, energy and expertise to his spiritual home, Zion Lutheran Church.
Although Meiser died in 2005, his legacy lives on at Zion, not only through the work he did there, but now also through his family's donation of the funds needed for a new multimedia system that allows those sitting in the balcony seats to better see the pulpit, and those in the nave, (the main part of the church), to see the choir, which sits in the balcony at the back of the church.
The system which includes two projectors, two flat screen monitors, two video cameras, microphones, DVD recorder and a duplicator also projects images, films and PowerPoint presentations on white space at either side of a large mural of Jesus above the pulpit, and over two flat-screen closed-circuit televisions mounted on the walls on both sides of the nave. The system can also record DVDs so homebound parishioners can experience church services.
"People down below can see the choirs and other special musical performances without having to turn their heads and crane their necks toward the back balcony. We will be able to project the lyrics of hymns used in worship that are not in our hymnal without having to copy them in the bulletin," said the Rev. Michael A. Frost.
On Sunday, a PowerPoint presentation about United Church of Christ missionary in South Africa, Susan Valiquette, and her husband, Scott Cooper, formerly of Neffs, Lehigh County, was presented using the system. The system would also allow services to be broadcast via television and/or web-streaming through the church's website, Frost said.
Meiser's gift will continue to enhance Zion Stone Church services.
"The possibilities are almost limitless and it will take some time to realize all of the potential we now have because of this incredibly generous gift from the Meiser family," Frost said. "This was Dick's dream and vision and we are so pleased that it is now a reality. I am quite sure Dick would be pleased."
On Sunday, the Meiser family joined Frost at the pulpit to dedicate the new system.
"I know this was very meaningful to him to have this put into place. This was a vision that he had had, that this would be put in place sometime in the future," said Meiser's widow, Eileen.
"I'm just so proud of him this was his dream," said his sister, Nancy Meiser.
"The project was a vision in the heart and mind of Richard Meiser going back to 2003-2004," Frost said. The "formal decisions to move forward with the multimedia project came about in late 2008, early 2009. The system began in the summer of 2009."
Wiring the system was a challenge, considering the age of the church, built in the mid-1800s.
"It took longer than many of us realized because it is, effectively, putting 21st century technology in a 19th century building and there was quite a bit of electrical rewiring that had to be done along the way," Frost said. "We finally began using the system in worship this fall."
Richard Meiser was a longtime member of Zion Stone Church's Lutheran congregation. He had served many years as the Lutheran congregation council president and as the president of the joint board, Frost said. Meiser was also "instrumental in the development of the plan to merge the Lutheran and UCC congregations into the newly constituted federated congregation we became in the spring of 2005," he said.
Meiser, who died at age 58 on Jan. 29, 2005, was well-respected in both the business and church community. He was an environmental health and safety manager for Air Products, owned D&E Beverage and operated the family Christmas tree farm.
Known for his boundless energy and generosity, Meiser sang in the church choir, taught Sunday school and served as Sunday school superintendent.