Every Sunday, Anna Swartz worships in her 260-year-old home. Though there are about 70 other people there, she still has room to worship, teach and grow.
"I've been going here since 1946," said Swartz, 82, of Conewago Township. "It's my home church. The people are very, very friendly. You can feel God's presence when you go there."
Swartz's "home" is First Moravian Church, 39 N. Duke St. in York City, founded March 25, 1752. The Moravian Church itself was founded in 1457 in the province of Moravia in what is now the Czech Republic.
After decades of persecution, exile and renewal in Europe, the Moravians settled in America. They founded Bethlehem, now in Lehigh County, in 1741.
Eleven years later, a group of Moravians came to York and founded First Moravian church. Its first location was on the corner of Princess Street and Pershing Avenue. The congregation moved to its present location in 1868.
The current congregation has been celebrating the church's anniversary all year, said the Rev. Sayward Lippincott, the church's pastor.
"Even in these 260 years, there have been conflicts and trials, but the previous congregations made it through with their faith intact," she said. "For our congregation now, I want to see them grow in their relationship with Christ, and I want prayer to be a deeper part of their lives."
Community service: Today, the church remains active in the community with its food pantry and its Moravian Lunchroom, which provides a low-
cost menu of food for local residents and people working in the city, Lippincott said.
"The church is important to the community, not just in its ability to give out food, but we're here also to feed the souls of those who are looking and longing for more," she added.
Swartz said God gets the credit for First Moravian's historical success and for the positive effects the church has on the community and on the people who worship there.
Swartz said she married her husband, Lewis Swartz, at the church. Their three adult children were married there.
She has been teaching Sunday school at the church for almost 50 years, and she leads the church's prayer chain ministry, where members are notified about people who need prayer.
Most importantly, Swartz said, First Moravian is the place where she received Jesus Christ as her savior at age 27, resulting in a changed and fulfilled life.
"We love the Lord and he lives within our hearts," she said. "You don't live until you accept the Lord, you just exist."
-- Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at 505-5438 or email@example.com.
The Unitas Chorale of Bethlehem, Lehigh County, will perform a concert at 4:30 p.m. Sunday at First Moravian Church, 39 N. Duke St. in York City.
The concert is open to the public. A free-will offering will be received.
The event is part of First Moravian's yearlong observance of its 260th anniversary. For information, call the church at 843-2239.