Holy Trinity Church merges with St. Stephen's, members pilgrimage to Mt. Carmel


NORTHUMBERLAND COUNTY (WOLF) -- Two churches in Northumberland County are merging as one and to mark the occasion, some members of the congregation made a seven-mile pilgrimage with some of its most precious cargo.

Driving from the heart of Shamokin to Mt. Carmel only takes about 15 to 20 minutes.

If you’re walking, it can turn into a few hours, up and down the hills of Northumberland County.

But the congregation of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church was up for the challenge Saturday, marching more than a few towns over to get to their new church home.

“In a sense some grief, but yet some excitement.”

Grief, because after today, Holy Trinity will be no more.

Its closing due to attendance, financial, and structural issues.

Back in its 1977, tens of thousands of people flocked to the church to see and pray before its communion chalice veil, where a young girl said she saw a vision of Christ in the fabric.

Today, that veil along with other important items were carried some seven-miles away during a symbolic pilgrimage.

“Its really wrenching for people particularly of Holy Trinity to let go of this building and all their history here. Most of the people here have been here for almost their whole lives,” Sarah Weedon, Holy Trinty’s former priest, said.

The pilgrimage ends at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Mt. Carmel – but it won’t keep that name for long.

St. Stephen’s was also undergoing some of the same problems as Holy Trinity and both decided to dissolve and merge under one building with a new name.

“Mission of the Resurrection, an Episcopal Mission in Coal Country. I love the fact that they picked the name resurrection because that’s what this is really all about, a renewal of a presence, a strong presence here in coal country,” Weedon said.

The Holy Trinity congregation was met by the St. Stephen’s congregation outside of the church, then installed the veil and other pieces of Holy Trinity inside.

They were also treated to a home-cooked luncheon by their new church family, many of whom are grateful to see it grow.

“There is strength in numbers. And there does reach a point where if you want effective ministry and you want to be able to have people come to experience God, and to have that fullness of faith, it does require a bit of a critical mass otherwise you can’t staff your ministries,” Joseph Tamburro, a member of St. Stephen’s, said.

Mission of the Resurrection will have its first service tomorrow morning, starting with a breakfast at 8 a.m., then service at 10 a.m., and another luncheon afterwards.

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