HARRISBURG – Transcend Church in Harrisburg launched their Christmas Eve service with the help of East Shore Baptist Church, including their praise band and most of the congregation who came to support the church plant in its mission to share Christ to people living in Harrisburg’s poorer inner city area.
Transcend began as a Church plant in 2011 after John Weathersby, a Waynesville, North Carolina native, and his wife Briana, who was raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico, moved to Pennsylvania for a job transfer. The church initially met at their apartment and grew to a group of twelve followed by meetings at the Friendship Center, then began looking for a larger more permanent home. Because they had a heart to minister to residents of the inner city, John’s team searched for a location in Harrisburg’s city central and viewed the 1903 dilapidated church located on State Street back in 2012 when the building was listed for $280,000. Because the cost was more than the church plant could afford and other places in the city wouldn’t rent to a church, they leased a space a few miles from their target location and over three years grew to a body of 80 regular attenders. Soon God provided a way to move this Church Plant to their ministry area.
In spring of 2015, a realtor noticed that Pastor John had walked through the State Street Church and contacted him to ask about his current interest. The price had recently been reduced to $170,000, still more than the young church could afford. With the realtor’s urging to make an offer, the church submitted a bid under $100,000 and after a few negotiations, it was accepted!
They closed on June 12, 2015, and renovations promptly began. With the regular help of work crews from East Shore Baptist Church and multiple mission teams and support from Judson Baptist Church in Nashville, TN, East Belmont Baptist Church in Belmont, NC, Calvary Baptist in Shelby, NC, Mount Calvary Baptist in Rocky Mount, NC, and Mt. Sinai Baptist in Shelby, NC, among others, an incredible amount of renovations were completed over the next 18 months. From new roofing, a sidewalk, to bathrooms being gutted and replaced and 5,000 sq. ft. of original hardwood floors being stripped and refinished; no surface was left untouched.
Even while the work crews continued to pour their efforts into restoring the building, other teams, volunteers and church members began building relationships in the community. During the summer of 2016, Transcend held multiple basketball and summer camps that drew multitudes of children from the surrounding community. At the end of the summer, a block party celebration was held that saw over 150 people including both children and their parents.
With the ambitious goal of officially launching during their Christmas Eve service in the unfinished sanctuary, work teams from Transcend and East Shore met weekly to finish the huge renovation project. By coming together and working diligently, their goal was realized and nearly 200 people attended their Christmas Eve Service celebration. Christmas carols and worship songs were sung by both East Shore’s and Transcend’s praise teams using the sound system generously donated by Riva Trace Baptist Church.
Several Transcend members along with East shore’s Pastor Brian Harrison read scripture,
sharing the Christmas story from creation through the birth of Jesus, ending with the culmination of the cross and how that was the completion of God’s plan of salvation. The gospel message was clearly presented to all who were present.
Pastor John was overwhelmed with sheer joy at turn out from their community. It was a kingdom moment to stand at the front and see so many people of different backgrounds and ethnicities worshiping together; it brought to mind Revelation 7:9, “…every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb”. What a beautiful sight!
After the service, family pictures were taken by the brightly decorated Christmas tree and given to families free of charge. Downstairs in the fellowship hall, a full homemade turkey dinner feast with desserts was served and enjoyed by attendees. 70 filled backpacks were handed out to needy children while Lifeway Christian Bookstore representatives were present to give out ‘Jesus Loves Me’ stuffed animals. Many new friendships were formed among the neighborhood attendees and regular church members.
Please keep Transcend Church in prayer as they continue to reach out to the lost and hurting families of Harrisburg’s inner city.