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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Church as gift

Lutherans hand over their sanctuary to Coptic congregation

When Memorial Evangelical Lutheran Church in Harrisburg, Pa., was built in 1928, coffee cost 41 cents a pound, Mickey Mouse debuted in animated film and the country was on the verge of the Great Depression. Eighty-one years later, coffee costs more than $5 a pound, the mouse has gone high-tech and a recession has left many out of work and money.

Jennifer Botros/St. Mark Coptic Orthodox
B. Penrose Hoover (left), bishop of the Lower Susquehanna Synod, hands over the deed of Memorial Lutheran Church to Jacob Nadian, priest of St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church, Harrisburg, Pa.
Memorial, an urban congregation with a Gothic-style building and a worshiping community of 25, has also found itself out of money — but not out of work or mission. It breathed new life into its building by moving out and turning its facilities over to St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church.

After the Dec. 27 worship service and luncheon, the congregation gifted its church, known in its heyday as "Little Cathedral," to St. Mark to begin a journey of new life and vitality.

Last August, Memorial members voted to begin transition talks with St. Mark.

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