Chancel Makeover Marks Dillsburg Church Centennial

St. Paul’s Lutheran Church is an easily recognized landmark of downtown Dillsburg, standing high on a hill, with large stain glass windows and an adjacent prayer garden.

But it’s inside the church where a remodeling project marks the celebration of the building’s 100th anniversary.

The most noticeable change is the altar area, now several feet wider, and easier to access.

Pastor Lois Van Orden says the centennial seemed like the perfect time to modernize the chancel and choir area.

“The thing that I noticed right away about the change was the easy movement from the congregation level to the altar,” said Van Orden.

With a walk through demonstration, Van Orden added: “Initially, when I walked up here, I would have to turn sideways because the candle was close and there wasn’t as much space.”

The choir area was also lowered and made wheelchair accessible as part of the renovation.

Chief planner for the makeover, Greg Wonders, said the old steps were too high to access easily.

“With the old choir area, we were dealing with a 1914 choir loft which was hazardous for our aging choir,” said Wonders.

The makeover was three years in the planning and four months of tearing out the old and putting in the new.

The original St. Paul’s Lutheran church stood on a next door lot from 1855 until a town-wide fire leveled the church in 1913. The current church was built and dedicated just 15 months after the fire. The last sanctuary update was in 1941.

Pastor Van Orden said the number one goal of the renovation was to allow the faithful to better express their faith.

“I think it’s important for the congregation, when they’re worshipping, to be able to look at the center of their faith, which is the risen Jesus Christ.”

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