Providing “access for all” while investing in mission, ministry, and maintenance
In February 2007, the Land Use Committee was formed at New Goshenhoppen Church to investigate the various opportunities for use of the church’s farmland. After weighing various options, the Land Use Committee recommended to the church congregation in November 2010 that 73.81 acres be permanently preserved under the Montgomery County Farmland Preservation Program. The congregation approved the motion with an overwhelming majority. In August of 2011, New Goshenhoppen Church received final settlement for land preservation. The work of the church had just begun.
In March of 2012, the congregation broke ground on an “access for all” project to make the church, built in 1850, accessible to everyone. The 1.3 million dollar project envisioned a 2-story “connector” breezeway with an elevator, allowing all parishioners easy access to the 2nd story sanctuary. The new breezeway connected the Church with the Christian Education wing, allowing free access between the sanctuary and Fellowship Hall.
In addition to eliminating barriers to worship and fellowship spaces, New Goshenhoppen Church went through major renovations to make bathrooms accessible on each floor of the facility. With the gifts of many of its members, the church also leveraged a portion of the money received from land preservation to make the project a reality. In October of 2012, families were “connected” in worship as the new breezeway and elevator swung its doors wide open.
In 2013, the remainder of the land preservation funds received from Montgomery County were placed in two investments. The first investment, the Goschenhoppen Meadows Fund, was created to annually support mission, ministry, and maintenance projects above and beyond those already established at New Goshenhoppen. The second investment, the Land Use Fund, was created to support the ongoing care of the land preserved.
Since 2013, the Goschenhoppen Meadows Fund has supported local, regional, national, and international organizations. Gifts have been given locally to the Open Link, to the Nate Clemens Fund (for substance recovery), and in support of the First Monday Community Meal. Regionally, New Goshenhoppen has supported the Women’s Center of Montgomery County, Hope Rescue Mission in Reading, Bethany Children’s Home, Phoebe Ministries, and Lancaster Seminary. Nationally, we’ve given gifts to St. Jude, Re-Member, Smile Train, and Comfort Cases. Internationally, donations have been made to Church World Services (for hunger relief and water projects), to refugee relief (for Syrian and Palestinian refugees), to Habitat for Humanity (for housing), and to 20/20/20 Eyesight (to restore vision). These and future gifts are made possible through the funds received and invested from Montgomery County Farmland Preservation.
In addition to gifts going out of the church, New Goshenhoppen has been able to invest in additional church programs and local outreach. These include providing summer church camping scholarships for those in need (camping at New Gosh>>), holding “Older & Wiser” and Spring Social luncheons, sending care packages to college and military persons, and conducting Rejoicing Spirits worship services. Finally, we’ve been able to invest in maintaining and upgrading our church facilities. This includes replacing and repairing multiple roofs, installing new carpeting, purchasing new PCs, installing assisted hearing aids, making safe church improvements, renovating bathrooms, and installing church wide wireless internet access.
And the best part… the land will be preserved in perpetuity. New Gosh works with a local farmer to continue to care for the land, making sure proper farming techniques and landscaping is employed to reduce soil erosion and minimize invasive species of plants. Our Land Use Committee and the church caretaker have created walking trails, with blue-bird boxes and tree markers throughout the farmland, providing a scenic and serene get-away for all to enjoy.
May 27, 2018