BALLS MILLS - Balls Mills United Methodist Church is a marvelous looking house of worship. Set off from Route 973 and Bloomingrove Road by a large parking lot, its most striking examples of beauty are the numerous stained-glass windows.
The windows depict several biblical stories detailed in the Old and New testaments and fill the sanctuary with a glorious colorful glow as the sun's rays pierce the glass inlays.
One sees the harvester, Ruth, in the fields of grain and young King David about to slay Goliath with a slingshot, along with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane before his prophesied betrayal, crucifixion and resurrection.
Stained-glass windowsare prominent features of the Balls Mills United Methodist Church at 5941 Bloomingrove Road in Cogan Station. The church is set to celebrate its 150th anniversary.
Another impressive structure attached to the existing church is the educational wing, where various Sunday School classes and community gatherings, such as the quilters, do their work.
The educational wing provides space for several classes, a church office, and is designed with room for growth. It's also wheelchair accessible and air conditioned.
The church offers four adult Sunday School classes and a strong and growing youth fellowship and it holds a vacation Bible school each summer.
The members said they have an active youth fellowship that has traveled to West Virginia to help construct porches of the less fortunate homeowners in Appalachia.
The youth group raised its own money for the trip. It also has church members who have traveled to the Gulf Coast during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 to assist in repairing homes.
The youth of the church are known to care about local mission efforts. They spend a night in Williamsport in "Cardboard Country" in November, where they live in a cardboard box overnight to get a glimpse of what it is like to be homeless.
The church is active in many other local ministries and is a supporter of Sojourner Truth Ministries, where anyone is invited for a free meal and some friendly conversation, and whatever else they need, and Family Promise. The latter involves 13 church congregations taking turns as hosts for a week for families with children who temporarily are homeless. The homeless families stay at the host church during the night and at a Day Center in Williamsport during the day.
Every year, during the weeks leading up to Easter, the ritual of making peanut butter filled and chocolate covered eggs helps raise money for the church and makes those who purchase the oval tasty goodies much happier that spring is arriving.
The original church was built along Academy Road and was constructed of wood. The cornerstone for the existing church was laid July 24, 1932.
People attending and contributing $1 or more to the building fund had their names enrolled on a scroll, which was placed in the cornerstone where it remains today.
In spite of the trying depression years of the 1930s, the congregation was so faithful in its stewardship that it was able to liquidate the debt of the new church by Sept. 30, 1941. Maggie Seitzer and Melvin Ressler, the oldest and youngest members of the congregation, had a part in the burning of the church mortgage.
After the war, over a period of time, the church family doubled in attendance and membership. An adult fellowship social group soon was created. It consisted of a night out once a month for all married couples in the church and community with babysitters furnished by the church membership. The activities included hay rides, scavenger hunts, swimming parties and rolling skating. As a result, many church members began to socialize in small fellowship groups, which was one of the goals.
Another fellowship at the time was the Mite Society. Taking its name and mission from the Widow's Mite story in Mark 12, the group of church members wanting to contribute just a little bit more to help meet the expenses of the church.
Both men and women of the church were involved and met monthly. They paid their dues and sponsored many functions which produced additional income for the church. Their labors produced the annual Easter ham-and egg suppers, bazaars, festivals and harvest home services. They also presented one of the colorful windows in the old educational section of the church.
The facilities were improved in 1946 through the installation of a Hammond electric organ.
It was a gift of David Lehman, one of the most faithful members of the congregation and was presented as a memorial to his wife, Carrie Schaefer Lehman. Upon the death of Lehman in 1958, an endowment of $1,000 was paid from his estate to the trustees for maintenance to the organ.
In 1949 the church was repainted and re-carpeted. A rededication service was conducted under the pastorate of Rev. Harold Springman.
As the church grew in membership, the social hall was remodeled, and a new kitchen area was added to the basement.
In October, 1960 a week-long celebration was held to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the congregation.
The observance began with a Communion service and continued with special nightly services including "Missionary Night, Neighbor Night, Youth Fellowship Night, and climaxed with "homecoming service, in which many pastors who formerly had served at Balls Mills participated in the celebration, much like the Sesquicentennial.