The following article appeared in the April 15,2013, edition of the Daily Item.
Spiritual quest sparks Orthodox growth
By Robert Stoneback
BEAVERTOWN – A Snyder County Orthodox Christian church is offering an alternative for many worshippers in the region.
The Orthodox Christian Chapel of the Holy Spirit, Beavertown, was founded in 2007 as a largely informal group that came together with Father John Reeves, of State College’s Holy Trinity Orthodox Church, to inquire about the Orthodox faith.
“It slowly evolved from that point onward,” said David Smith, a reader for the church whose home has served as the site of the chapel since its creation.
About 70 percent of the roughly 30 congregants were originally Protestants. Smith had been a Lutheran pastor for nearly 20 years before converting to Orthodoxy.
“The core of the chapel was a group of Protestants who began studying together and we began to look at church history. We kind of evolved along the path that way,” he said. “We were feeling out of step and out of place with our mainline denominations.”
Before Smith started holding services at his house, church members had to travel far to attend Orthodox services. One church family, from Lewisburg, would regularly drive to Williamsport for worship services. Others went to churches near Harrisburg, State College, and Mount Carmel.
Even after the start of the Beavertown church, members were only able to meet at the house once a month, but the recent addition of Father Basil Biberdorf hs permitted them to now meet on a weekly basis. Biberdorf, a former Missouri Synod Lutheran, had moved from Texas to State College a few years ago, to serve at the Holy Trinity Orthodox Church, which serves as the mother parish for Beavertown. He was assigned to Beavertown by Reeves.
“The appeal of Orthodoxy differs a bit depending on who you ask. For some, it is the fact that the Orthodox Church is timeless,” wrote Biberdorf via email. “We are who we are and we do what we do because of the faith that has been entrusted to us.”
“We are a hierarchical church in that we have bishops, priests, and deacons, but that also means we are accountable,” he continued. “I am accountable to my bishop, and he is accountable to his brother bishops. None of us is allowed to ‘make things up’ about what we believe. We don’t change what we teach just because it is now politically incorrect.”
Some people have found it difficult to worship in a home, said Smith, However, there is Christian precedent for it in the Book of Acts, he said, and those who have attended have found it to be a good experience. “We enjoy each other’s company here.”
The church is anticipating new members in the future as well.
“We fully expect there will be other folks like us who are questioning some things, who are looking for solid truth that never changes,” said Smith. “We expect that people will locate us at some point in time.”
Members are hoping to open their own church building in Snyder County. Members are awaiting final architectural drawings, said Biberdorf. Once those are approved, the congregation moves on to the fundraising stage. Since the designs are not complete yet, the total cost is not yet available on the building, said Biberdorf.
“A primary goal of our building is to offer something beautiful and uniquely Orthodox to our community. We want to build something that everyone in the area, Orthodox or not, can appreciate,” said Biberdorf.
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A short video taken during the service is also available.
Also, read The Daily Item’s previous article about the Chapel’s blessing of Beaver Creek, in January, 2013.