For 50-year member Ruth Weeks, other than the love of Christ, Northway Presbyterian Church is about friendliness.
"We're a friendly church," Weeks said as the half-century anniversary of the 1520 Northway Road house of worship draws near.
"I think we have a lot of common interests," she said in a room with six other 50-year members.
Northway Presbyterian Church will celebrate
its 50th anniversary this month. Shown are charter members, from left, Ed and Ruth Weeks, Dean Thomas, Patricia Lockspeiser, and June and Anson Newcomer.
Maureen Pratt, left, of Loyalsock Township and Terry Kase of Williamsport prepare for the church's annual rummage sale.
"I think having charter church members is rare in today's world," said Pastor Ken Woods-Henderson, who has led the flock for 6 1/2 years.
The church celebrates its anniversary with a gala dinner and special worship during Pentecost, on May 22.
"Fifty years and 50 days after Christ's resurrection he fills his disciples with the Holy Spirit," the pastor said, referencing a comparison to the 50 days and 50 years. Pastor Emeritus the Rev. Stanley Hartung will speak, he said.
Woods-Henderson is described by the charter members as an easygoing, thoughtful and prayerful man.
"Pastor rides his bicycle to church," said June Newcomer, with husband, Anson, by her side.
While many worship there because of family backgrounds, the church itself started at a dance hall and then at the former Hillside Restaurant.
"We then grew out of Covenant Central Presbyterian and First Presbyterian," Woods-Henderson said.
Known for its rummage sales, hosting Girl Scouts and bloodmobiles, the church has members who say they enjoy the instructive sermons from the pastor.
Woods-Henderson is described as a man who makes his congregation and visitors aware of their responsibilities.
"We believe profoundly that we live under grace," Woods-Henderson said.
Christ's mission and teachings, his death, burial and resurrection, the gospel that records it and makes it alive, and His return some day are fundamental tenants of the faith, he added.
Another plus for the church members is the music. Organist Donna Speigel is a skilled musician, and a new chime choir is a big hit, the pastor said.
The congregation averages up to 40 on a given Sunday, with some children. Adult Bible study is offered at 9:30 a.m. and worship follows at 10:45 a.m.
A large-scale kitchen provides the central location for dinners and banquets.
The rummage sale is described as "the best in town" by the congregants.
The clean used and new items are affordable and anything that isn't sold is turned over to the Salvation Army.
Congregants also give to the American Rescue Workers, Liberty House at the YWCA, St. Anthony's Kitchen and, most recently, to Haiti Relief.
The women's association each holiday makes Christmas stockings, mosquito netting for missionaries, and bandages.
Drivers volunteer to pick up shut-ins and those unable to attend services, especially during Christmas Candlelight vigils, Maundy Thursday Tenebrae, the first Sunday of Advent, Easter morning and All Saints Remembrance, when the church honors those who have passed away.
Holy communion is provided for those who choose to partake it seven times a year, the pastor said.
"I often drive by at night and marvel at the light through the stained glass window at the front of the church," he said. "We invite anyone with a desire to share worship of our Lord to join us."
A history worth noting
Northway Presbyterian Church began officially in 1958, after validating a need for a Presbyterian church in the township. The Presbytery authorized the purchase of 5 1/2 acres of land on Northway Road and directed its strategy committee to begin organizing a new church in 1959.
The Presbytery extended a call to the Rev. Kenneth N. Wood, who came into the field as organizing minister July 1, 1959.
The first worship service was held Sept. 13, 1959, in the Fry-Lyons Dance Studio on Sheridan Street. Increased membership made it necessary to move to the Hillside Restaurant on Four Mile Drive for Sunday worship.
The young congregation officially was organized by Northumberland Presbytery as the Northway United Presbyterian Church, having 117 charter members.
Within two months after the formal organization, a building committee formed and was given the task of determining the future needs of the church.
Ground eventually was broken for Fellowship Hall May 4, 1961, which was designed as an all-purpose structure. The ground was broken for the sanctuary, which was dedicated on June 4, 1978.