Rachel Baxter still has "no clue" why she got that phone call.
The man on the line, whom she'd met just one or two times before, had a question.
Would she -- the wife of a Philadelphia preacher -- take over as interim pastor at Maranatha Church of York?
"What he said was God spoke to him," Baxter said. "All I know is I got a phone call."
She took the job.
Five years later, as Maranatha's full-time pastor, Baxter said she can only assume that conversation was part of a divinely conceived plan for her and the 150 members of her congregation. If that's the case, this is a plan still unfolding.
A merger: Today, another major change is under way at Maranatha, located at 116 S. West St. After 75 years in York City, the congregation is merging with another church to form New Covenant Community Church.
Together, Maranatha and Abundant Life Ministries -- each of which counts about 150 people as members -- will be able to accomplish more, Baxter said. She has teamed up with her friend Pastor Anthony Sease of Abundant Life Ministries to make it work.
"It's like we've known each other forever," Sease said. "It's really what I felt God wanted to happen."
Sease grew up in Maranatha's pews and said his experience there molded him into the pastor he is today. Seven years ago, he decided to start his own church, hoping to build a congregation of people who'd left religion behind for one reason or another.
"I was convinced that there was a church-full of people who weren't attending church," he said. "We reached out to those people."
For now, New Covenant is using both buildings for worship services, alternating every other Sunday. Meanwhile, work continues at 701 W. King St. to turn Abundant Life Ministries into a community center. City zoning officials approved the transformation in April.
Plans for the 18,000-square-foot building include a health clinic for the uninsured and underinsured, an employment agency for people with "unfavorable backgrounds," child care programs, an office for a Christian magazine and a new home for the nonprofit Father's Workshop.
"I think sometimes we lose focus of what a church is for," Baxter said. "You have to reach out to where the people are and meet needs."
-- Erin James may also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.