WOULDN’T THIS BE A NICE PLACE TO START A CHURCH?
In August of 1988, Pat Kelly, his wife, Beth, and their two children moved from Middletown, PA to Findlay, OH so that Pat could enter the Masters of Divinity Program at Winebrenner Theological Seminary. Upon graduation, Pat pondered the idea of planting a church. He could not help but to recall an afternoon drive that prior summer in which he and Beth drove through Hershey. With the smell of chocolate in the air and Kiss-shaped street lamps lining the streets, they commented to one another, “Wouldn’t this be a nice place to start a church?” During that drive, they were talking about planting a church without even knowing it. The Holy Spirit was already at work!
After much prayer and the development of a core group, at 10:00 a.m. on November 17, 1991, Caring Community held its first church service. Everything was in one banquet room in Sandree’s Restaurant. 147 people gathered to hear Pastor Pat preach a sermon on Luke 15 that was entitled, “Is It Time to Come Home?” From the very start, Pastor Pat, Beth and the core group sought the leading of the Holy Spirit and God mightily blessed their obedience.
A CHURCH WITH NOWHERE TO MEET
In December of 1991, less then one month after the first Celebration Service, Pastor Pat was informed that the building had been sold and that the church had one month to find another location. We prayed, and God provided an opening with the Union Deposit Fire Company. Starting in January 1992, Caring Community met in the social hall and used the basement for classrooms.
THE GROWING YEARS
By the spring of 1993, Caring Community’s attendance was already violating the church growth 80% rule. The average Sunday attendance was 115 and 80% of the available seating was 111. Thus began several years of creative seating, double parking, and searching for alternative locations. As 1993 drew to a close, Caring Community continued to grow and the Elder Board continued to search for both an alternative location to lease and at least 10 acres of land to purchase that would serve as a future permanent location.
In 1995, God continued to demonstrate his providence and sufficiency in new and exciting ways. In March, with the affirmation of the congregation and the unity of the Holy Spirit, the Elder Board and Melvin and Ethel Watts signed a contract to purchase 20.5 acres on Red Top Road in Hummelstown.
God continued to bless and we were busting at the seams. We prayed for more permanent space, and on Mother’s Day 1997, we moved to the second floor of the old Hershey Public Library. It was the first time in Caring Community’s history that we did not have to set up and tear down every week. We used the old Township Commissioner’s room as our worship room, and classrooms for our office space and Christian education.
In July of 1999, the founding pastor (Pat Kelly) stepped down and the church went through a difficult time of transition that brought Glenn Peck in September of 2000. The founding pastor returned as worship leader in May 2002 and became associate pastor in January 2004.
March 28, 2004, Caring Community was blessed to hold their first service in the new permanent church site on Red Top Road.
Pastor Glenn Peck and his wife, Sherry, faithfully served Caring Community for over 10 years. After Sherry passed away from cancer in early 2011, Glenn took a short sabbatical before returning to lead the church for another year.
In December 2012, Glenn and new wife Nancy, retired from serving at Caring Community. Pastor Pat Kelly became the lead pastor, once again. Pastor Sheldon Ames returned from Seminary in 2014 began serving as pastor of outreach.
As we look towards celebrating 30 years in 2021, we continue to preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified as our central message as we follow God’s leading for the Church’s future.