GHOSTS OF THE HISTORIC COLEMAN CHAPEL: A HISTORICAL TALE BY PASTOR RUSS HOBBS
COLEMAN MEMORIAL CHAPEL
THE HOUSE THAT RUSS & DARLA BUILT
A HISTORICAL RENDERING OF THE TRANSITION YEARS AND BEYOND
Rev. Rev. Russell E. Hobbs
©2020 Russell E. Hobbs
All Rights Reserved
This is a historical accounting of our ministerial years at the Coleman Memorial Chapel in Lititz, PA Who would be better qualified to tell this portion of the Coleman Memorial Chapel story than the pastor who lived, worked and directed pastoral ministry during these years?
It is not my intention to record a comprehensive history of the chapel. There have been many others who have added to the historical era of the Chapel adding accounts of its origin and development since 1874. It is my goal to share with you some of the key events of my pastoral and ministerial years at this Lancaster County Pennsylvania landmark.
My call to pastoral ministry dates back to the 60’s when I felt a call to the gospel ministry. I was raised in a Christian home, introduced to the church at an early age and involved in Christian ministries since my childhood and teen years. I graduated from Montrose Area High School in June of 1968 and that fall was enrolled as a student at Lancaster School of the Bible which became Lancaster Bible College in the 70’s. The years of my professional and ministerial training at LBC spanned 50 years at this writing. I graduated from Lancaster Bible College in 1978 and again with an M.A. in Ministry/Leadership in 2003. I have moved from student, to Instructor to Adjunct Professor of Counseling and Psychology courses which I have written and taught.
My professional ministerial journey has included the work of Pastor, Broadcaster, Storyteller, Writer, Counselor, Treatment Specialist and Professor.
I grew up in the Baptist and Presbyterian churches. I have held several youth pastorates and pastorates that has involved work in the United Methodist Church, Church of God as well as non-denominational churches and entities including an organization that I founded in 1977, Midnight Hour Ministries.
It was September of 1997 and I was engaged in full time employment as a Treatment Specialist at the Dauphin County Prison. At that time I was seeking a pastoral assignment and had contacted the Lancaster Bible College to check out some alumni news to explore churches that were seeking pastors. It was there that I discovered a call for pastor at the Coleman Memorial Chapel. I contacted the Chapel in September and began candidate process in October of that year. In February 1998 I was called, confirmed and installed as the Pastor of the Chapel.
There were significant transition years in coming to the chapel. The Coleman Memorial Chapel was in a state of dysfunction and collapse when we arrived. The church and parsonage were in shambles. There was much work to be done. The stately chapel parsonage had been vacant for more than a decade and was in dire need of restoration and repair. There were more than 5,000 little brown bats dwelling in the attic of the chapel parsonage. These ecological little creatures would come out in the nocturnal hours for their nightly flight. Bugs and mosquitoes were not a problem during these years of transition. The house did not smell too good at that time and bat guano was seeping down and through the walls. A former pastor would awaken in the night and swat them with a tennis racket sometimes. It was a storyteller paradise for me! Stately gothic architecture, gorgeous sandstone buildings dating to the 1800’s and treasures within and outside, it was a storyteller paradise! I took advantage of that backdrop as I proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ from week to week.
I believe that throughout the twenty-one years of our ministry at the Coleman Memorial Chapel that the Lord guided Darla and I in ministering to a broken church and conflicting saints. We ministered to spiritually and Biblically illiterate people at the CMC. We instituted significant pastoral care through a variety of ministries and programs. We lit the steeple with the help of some VERY good people. We added professional dimensions of light and sound. We raised funds for renovation projects at the Chapel, Parsonage and Guest House. We installed a beautiful new sign front of the church along Route 501. WE developed vision, mission, core value statements, a philosophy of ministry, doctrinal statements, broadcast communications and so much more during our years at the chapel. God blessed in many ways.
I will be telling my story and sharing our history of ministry and CMC Chapel life as time and inspiration permits. Check back from time to time if you’re interested in reading more. If you have a question about what I’m sharing e-mail me at
TO BE CONTINUED
“THAT GUY DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE”
BY RUSS HOBBS
It was 10:30AM and I was sitting in the local Starbucks sipping a latte, fiddling with my I-pad and watching people! There was this guy in his late fifties sitting in the corner in a leather chair shifting the weight of his body from side to side. He looked uncomfortable. He was staring at a female barista and appeared to be annoyed. He began to tap the fingers of his right hand on the armrest of his chair.
“A simple cup of coffee, just a daggone cup of coffee, that’s all I want! Is that too much to ask? I’ve been sitting here for twenty-five minutes. I have things to do and places to be! Really, is it too much to expect a little courtesy and service anywhere these days?”
“Are you talking to me?” I asked as I looked at the large man in the leather chair.
“I’m not talking to you! I’m NOT talking to anybody, obviously! Because nobody knows I’m even here.” The man glared with anger toward the counter where three clerks were busy preparing beverages for several customers waiting to be served.
“There’s no respect for anybody these days! People could care less about you and what you need. “As long as they have or get what they want, you’re just a means to an end! Money, money, money.”
“That’s kind of cynical, isn’t it?”
“I suppose, but it sure seems that way to me.”
“I don’t know but it sounds to me like you’re annoyed about something more than coffee.” I sat my raspberry latte on a coffee table between our chairs. “It sounds to me like you could use a friend with a listening ear.”
“I guess, this has been a hell of a year, if you know what I mean.” The man seemed to be looking at me and studying my mannerisms. Perhaps, to see if I really was a listening friend or I was just uncomfortably commenting and trying to terminate further discussion.
“Why don’t you tell me?” I said.
“In the past five months, I’ve lost a wife, a home and a job! I used to live over there on Lehman Street, I was there for forty-eight years. In April my wife Brenda died from breast cancer. We were married for almost fifty years. I lost a home that my parents had lived in because I had to re mortgage it so many times because of the instability of my job and work hours. I couldn’t keep up with the mortgage payments and lost the place in June! The mom and pop store and garage that I had worked for most of my life went out of business and closed in August. I’m just screwed, you know what I mean?”
“Wow! I really am speechless! I’m so sorry. There just are no words..” I paused and looked at the man, he wiped away some tears. I extended my hand to him. “I’m Russ.”
“Tim Sterling.” He shook my hand.
“I mean, so where are you living right now?”
“I’m hanging out at a buddy’s house since late June. But, I can’t stay there forever, I’m living in their basement right now. But Roger, that’s my friends name has a family. He has a wife and three kids. My being there is kind of awkward. But, I’m either there or on the street!”
“You really do need a friend, huh? You need a Jesus kind of friend, right?”
“Tim glared arrogantly again, this time in my direction. “what the hell makes you think I need Jesus Christ?”
For a moment, I was stunned, then I stood to my feet and walked toward Tim. I said, “because guys like us all need someone who can walk on water, someone who heals broken hearts and mends troubled souls.”
“Tim” the barista called as she sat the cup of coffee on the counter.
The decision to accept or reject Jesus as Savior is the ultimate life decision. Why do many people choose to reject Jesus as Savior? There are perhaps as many different reasons for rejecting Christ as there are people who reject Him, but the following four reasons can serve as general categories.
1) Some people do not think they need a savior. But Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). Those who reject Christ will not be able to stand before God and successfully plead their own case on their own merits.
2) The fear of social rejection or persecution deters some people from receiving Christ as Savior. The unbelievers in John 12:42-43 would not confess Christ because they were more concerned with their status among their peers than doing God's will.
3) For some people, the things that the present world has to offer are more appealing than eternal things. We read the story of such a man in Matthew 19:16-23.
4) Many people are simply resisting the Holy Spirit's attempts to draw them to faith in Christ. Whatever the reasons why people reject Jesus Christ, their rejection has disastrous eternal consequences. "There is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved" than the name of Jesus (Acts 4:12), and those who reject Him face an eternity in the "outer darkness" of hell where there will be "weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 25:30).
© 2019 by Russell E. Hobbs
All rights reserved