Last year, the dwindling congregation at Homestead United Presbyterian Church was bitterly divided over worship styles and how to face the fact that it could no longer afford both its beautiful building and a full-time pastor.
“The church was really in despair,” said Mary Solomon, 83, a member since 1959.
“Now we have so many young people. I’m so excited about what is happening in our church. I feel we could be a model for other churches that are struggling with conflict over contemporary versus traditional music.”
The church recently won a national award from Union Presbyterian Seminary in Virginia for some of its revitalization efforts. The Al Dimmock Award gives a $1,000 prize to a congregation that has achieved significant change through empowerment of older adults.
The Homestead church started a computer lab where younger members taught older ones how to use computers so they could email their grandchildren, research their family trees or access commentaries on the Bible. In the process, they gave new leadership and learning opportunities to the youth and helped to heal a long-standing rift between the age groups.
“It has had a unifying effect over the entire congregation,” Mrs. Solomon wrote in a recommendation letter to the award committee.
Homestead is among several Presbyterian Church (USA) congregations in struggling communities that have found new life through ministries ranging from senior citizen luncheons to teaching business skills to teens, said the Rev. Sheldon Sorge, general minister to Pittsburgh Presbytery.
(Photos by Kurt Weber / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)