There's at least one thing on which they agree: veterans listed on the old brass plaque known as Bittersville War Memorial deserve to be remembered.
But there's otherwise little common ground between the York County Department of Veterans Affairs and the Lower Windsor Area Historical Society.
And what started as an argument about the placement of a 2-by-3-foot memorial has evolved into a discussion about a felon priest and the viability of his congregation.
The backstory: The plaque lists the names of 71 soldiers from the Windsor and Lower Windsor area. The historical society took possession of the plaque after Bittersville United Methodist Church closed its doors a few years ago.
Parishioners at the former church, 1943 Craley Road, were concerned the building
could be demolished or that the building's new owners might not be good stewards of the memorial.
Congregants asked the historical society to take care of the plaque and, a short time later, it was pulled from its stone in front of the church and placed in storage in a one-room schoolhouse until a permanent home could be found.
Historical society secretary Hollis Bedell envisions a monument placed in a township park, a place where children could read the names of their ancestors.
Veterans of more recent wars could be added, as the memorial includes only World War I and World War II, she said.
Disagreement: But Elwood "Woody" McCleary Jr., a 66-year-old veteran and veterans activist from Red Lion, has a different idea.
The memorial lists the names of McCleary's father, a World War II veteran, and his uncle, who died in the air over France as a paratrooper in the same war. He wants the plaque to return to its former home, where the stone sat for decades and sits still, because the church building was taken over by a new congregation last year.
"These memorials are sacred, and they're supposed to be for the community," he said. "You can't go to Gettysburg and move stuff around. You don't just collect them up and shove them where you think they should go. We're going to fight them the whole way. This just isn't going to end."
And though McCleary has backing from the York County Department of Veterans Affairs and the office of state Rep. Stan Saylor, R-Windsor Township, historical society board members refuse to hand over the plaque.
'Commandeered': Veterans Affairs director Philip Palandro said his office's position is the society has "commandeered that monument, put it into a one-room schoolhouse and locked it up so nobody can see it unless you make an appointment, blah, blah, blah."
The veterans are angered for a good reason, and the plaque should be returned to its original position, he said.
The historical society board has been "rude and unreceptive," insisting on a course of action that "completely defeats the original intent of the plaque," he said.
Safe at school: Bedell said the memorial is safe at Martinsville School House, on the Craley Road campus of the municipal building.
While she acknowledged the veterans' objections, she said her board believes it was entrusted to find a "permanent" home for the memorial.
She said the township park is more likely to be around in 50 years than St. Michael the Archangel Roman Catholic Church, which moved into the old Bittersville United Methodist.
The small, independent church isn't recognized by the Diocese of Harrisburg because its leader, the Rev. Virgil Bradley "Gabriel" Tetherow, is a felon whom the Roman Catholic Church has prohibited from public ministry.
Court records show Tetherow in 2005 was charged by Monroe County police with 10 counts of possessing child pornography and 10 counts of criminal use of a communication facility.
That October, he pleaded guilty to one felony charge of criminal use of a communication facility, and the other charges were dropped. His status with the Roman Catholic Church is still uncertain.
Questions future: Bedell said the lack of recognition from the diocese makes the church's viability "a little more of an issue" because "splinter" church groups often move.
"We see them buy and then in a couple years they're gone," she said. "We've seen them come and go and there's no guarantee of longevity. We're not trying to be the bad guys here. ... I'm not sure why the vets don't want to work with us toward this ultimate goal."
McCleary said the memorial has "nothing to do with Father Tetherow other than the fact that it is in front of his church," and the society "doesn't have the right to judge anything or anyone."
The society earlier this year started a fund drive to erect a monument, but no monetary goal has been set because estimates are still being gathered, Bedell said.
If the drive is unsuccessful, the society could consider the lack of success as a lack of community support for moving the plaque to a park, she said.
Meanwhile, McCleary and the Joint Veterans Council are deciding whether to embark on a fundraiser of its own.
"If we can't get original put back, we might start a fund to cast a mold from the original and put a copy back in where the original was," he said.
-- Reach Christina Kauffman at firstname.lastname@example.org.