A Lesson in Giving
How God’s Spirit is working to restore, renew and rebuild in Girard, Pennsylvania
Written by Marsha MacKinnon, Webmaster for the Presbytery of Lake Erie
Losing a treasured church is devastating, yet the people of the First Presbyterian Church of Girard are moving forward. It’s been over a year since the historic church building, built in 1892, was leveled by fire. At the time, fire investigators were doubtful that a definite cause of the fire could be determined. This is a congregation where generation after generation from the same families support this church as its faithful. Those faithful servants continue to seek God’s will as they move from catastrophic loss to recovery. They are committed to rebuilding a new Presbyterian church in Girard.
On Sunday, July 21, 2019 – the one year anniversary of the fire – some neighbor’s attended the Girard worship service including Karen Potocki of Wayside Presbyterian Church. Her father – Keith Sundberg – is the Associate Pastor at Wayside. Karen is a regular Sunday School and Vacation Bible School teacher. Another connection is that Malinda, the wife of the Rev. Nicola Vitiello, who is the Pastor of the Girard church, and Karen became friends many years ago when they both attended Grove City College. Karen was her RA and they have kept in touch through the years. There’s another connection: Keith Sundberg was Rev. Nicola Vitiello’s mentor when he began his ministry at Girard Presbyterian.
Potocki delivered the children’s sermon on July 21 and told a wonderful story of how many children from Wayside Presbyterian Church, as well as people from five other states, have contributed numerous books for the re-creation of a children’s library for the Girard church following the fire. The book ‘The Giving Tree‘ by Shel Silverstein, first published in 1964, is a favorite among Christian educators because it teaches the lesson of generosity. It was one of the first books selected by the children to give to the children of Girard. The following includes a Q & A conversation with Karen about the book donations from the children of Wayside to the children of Girard and a Q & A with the Rev. Nicola Vitielo of Girard about the future of the Girard church: