Jerusalem church in Trachsville pays off mortgage
Joan Green looks on as Pastor Brian R. Holben burns the mortgage Sunday for Jerusalem Evangelical Lutheran Church in Trachsville. The mortgage for the church, built in 2003, was paid off in April. JARRAD HEDES/TIMES NEWS
It's not often setting a piece of paper on fire is celebrated with such jubilation.
Unless, that is, the document ablaze is a mortgage as was the case Sunday at Jerusalem Evangelical Lutheran Church in Trachsville.
Church leaders held a mortgage burning ceremony just a few hundred feet from the building it paid off in April.
"This took a lot of work to come together," the Rev. Brian R. Holben said. "There were fundraisers, pledges, major contributions given in part of estates of members, and men who did a lot of work as volunteers savings us thousands of dollars by painting things, cutting the grass and fixing things.
And, of course, there is WELCA, the Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
"WELCA is a group of women who meet once a month to plan events and come up with ways to benefit the church," said WELCA President Shirley Craig. "Since 2002, WELCA has raised $340,000 (toward) the mortgage. Our next goal is to raise money for a social hall."
Jerusalem Lutheran Church formed in the late 1800s as a joint church sharing the building with Jerusalem UCC before deciding to purchase land across the street and build the new building in the year 2003.
"I was concerned how long it would take to pay off the mortgage," said Joan Green. "I never thought we'd be standing here as the ones to say we did it."
Several members of the church who left money in their estates for the church were singled out during Sunday's service.
Charles and Mildred Green set up a trust with the church as the beneficiary.
They contributed over $142,000 toward the mortgage.
Jim Berger's $155,000 was the final payment that allowed the church to become free of a mortgage.
He left a total of $384,000 in his will.
"These are mind boggling numbers," said the Rev. Fred Crawford III, part-time associate of the bishop in the Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod. "This is truly an accomplishment to celebrate."