(By Andrea Rose, The Record Herald, PA). Tucked away on the mountainside off Charmian Road in Washington Township is a 128-year-old stone church, Hawley Memorial Presbyterian.
The church’s rich history dates to a time when folks took the Western Maryland Railroad from Baltimore to the secluded area, where resorts and summer homes cooled them from hot city summers.
Mr. and Mrs. Martin Hawley were among those who summered here in a home they called “Monta Vista.”
But it wasn’t long before they sought a place to worship and decided to build a church — a replica of a church in Czechoslovakia and, from an architectural standpoint, likely the only one of its type in the United States.
Hawley, an architect, designed the church, which was dedicated in August 1889, with building materials taken from the land, including the wood and stone.
In 1929, the church became part of the Presbytery of Carlisle, presently the Presbyterian Church in the USA.
Like the trees that surround the church property, the congregation has grown over time and, while the roots of the church are critical to its lifeblood, there comes a time when some shaping needs to be made to encourage future growth.
On Sunday [April 30, 2017], Hawley officially became part of ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians.
ECO represents the church’s commitment to make disciples of Jesus Christ (Evangelical); connect leaders through accountable relationships and encourage collaboration (Covenant); and commit to a shared way of life together (Order).
The name also speaks to the commitment to “strengthen the ‘ecosystems’ of local churches” by providing the environment and resources to produce healthy churches.
Founded in 2012, there are now 336 ECO congregations across the country.
“This was not an easy decision. We are not running away from our old denomination,” said Carl Batzel, Hawley pastor. “We feel the denomination moved away from us. It was a mismatch.”
Related article: Franklin County [PA] church shifts to new denomination