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History

Church of the Holy Spirit is a growing and enthusiastic congregation of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania located approximately 35 miles northwest of Philadelphia in the exurban area known as the Indian Valley.

COHS

History: Church of the Holy Spirit is still a “young” church. It was planted as a mission by the Diocese in the early 1990s, although the planning had been ongoing for a number of years. In September 1992, with the support of Bishop Allen Bartlett and the leadership of the Diocese, Archdeacon John E. Midwood developed a Mission Statement which stated that the new congregation would draw people from Salford, Upper and Lower Salford, Lower Frederick and Franconia Townships. In September 1993, a group of 39 people, led by founding Vicar, the Rev. F. Anne Ritchings, met at Good Shepherd Church in Hilltown to prepare for the opening of the new mission church. Church of the Holy Spirit was the name decided upon, since it was felt that the Holy Spirit truly was instrumental in the formation of the church. The first service was held 3 months later in a rented storefront in Harleysville. By the end of the second year, a second store was rented to expand the sanctuary and provide some much needed classroom areas. Soon after, the property at Barndt Road and Sumneytown Pike was purchased, plans were drawn and building began.

The church building was designed by Lederach Associates to stylistically complement the many old barns in the rural community. It was built by Paul F. Detweiler & Sons Construction using state-of-the-art wall systems and including an environmentally-friendly geo-thermal heating and cooling system. The flexible interior space allows the sanctuary to be re-configured for worship and events; the adjacent parish hall encourages guests to understand that the hospitality of Jesus Christ extends from our worship to all of our gatherings. From its beginning, Church of the Holy Spirit has made a commitment to excellence in worship and music. The church purchased the magnificent Tracker/Dobson organ from Mrs. Richard (“Buncey”) Brooks of Doylestown, Pennsylvania, one of our parishioners. It was installed and dedicated in 1997.

On December 21, 1997, the first service was held in the new sanctuary. On April 26, 1998, the Dedication and Consecration of the church building took place. Church of the Holy Spirit had moved from conception to consecration in just five years!

Church of the Holy Spirit sits on a small portion of a nearly 30-acre property. In late 1998 a Bird Sanctuary was created in conjunction with the Unami chapter of the Audubon Society.

In 1998, two beautiful hand-painted silk banners, entitled ‘Portals‘ were purchased from local artist, Juanita Yoder and installed in the sanctuary.  In 1999, our beautiful stained glass window, designed by the Beyer Studio of Philadelphia won the “Best of Show” award by Ministry and Liturgy Magazine.

COHS wall

Another addition was the outdoor labyrinth, accessible through the stained glass doors.

Following several years of growth, the mission encountered a time of uncertainty following the retirement of its founding vicar, the Rev. F. Anne Ritchings. Following a lengthy interim, Church of the Holy Spirit called a new rector, the Rev. Kathryn Andonian, in June 2004. Since that time, the parish has prayerfully and energetically engaged creative change with growth in the congregation, ministries and stewardship. COHS was admitted as a parish at the Diocesan Convention in 2010.

Today, there are more than 600 members in the congregation and the average Sunday attendance is over 200. Our Sunday School program serves over 100 youth from toddlers to teens. We welcome many newcomers every year who are reflective of the diversity of the community.

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