Could Lancaster County Tourism Destroy our church?*

Imagine this scenario with me: we receive a disturbing letter in the mail.

And by “we”, I mean Faith Church.

Say it is a letter from a joint meeting of the Lancaster County Planning Commission and the East Lampeter Township Supervisors.  The letter details how they have been studying traffic flow on our road, Old Philadelphia Pike (PA Route 340), for the last few years, and the experts have concluded that Old Philadelphia Pike is no longer suitable to handle the amount of traffic in our area, especially during tourist season.  Because of our Lancaster County Amish and Mennonite heritage and residents, thousands of visitors journey to our farmlands every year.  So imagine that there have been surveyors recently studying the stretch of 340 from the Route 30 Junction heading east through Smoketown, Bird-in-Hand and Intercourse.

Rt. 340 was not originally designed for the volume of traffic that currently uses the road.  Traffic is only projected to increase, especially with tourism and as the new housing complex between Greenfield Road and Willow Road is completed, bringing 1400 units to our area in the next few years.

The County Tourism Bureau, in particular, would be driving some of the changes.  What tourist wants to come to Lancaster with dreams of spotting horse and buggies and eating whoopie pies and shoo-fly pie, only to be stuck in traffic?  To keep those tourist dollars flowing, we need wider roads.  Given how many dollars we’re talking about, theirs is a powerful argument.  Put that all together and the plan would be that over the next two years, Route 340 would undergo widening becoming a five-lane road.  It would have two lanes each way, with a turning lane in the middle.

Using eminent domain, the State would take over all of the land needed on the 7.5 mile stretch between Route 30/340 junction and the town of Intercourse to facilitate this expansion.  The result would be that Faith Church’s sanctuary would no longer meet code requirements for distance from a roadway.

The sanctuary will have to be demolished*.

How would you feel?

In our next section of Luke, Jesus pretty much tells the disciples that a scenario like this is going to happen to their church.   Their church?  Did they have a church?  Sorta.  The building that they looked to as the center of their faith in God was the temple building.  It was a magnificent structure that was the heart of their nation’s heritage and identity.  Being from Galilee in northern Israel, the disciples would likely have only seen the temple a few times per year, so it could have held an even greater pull on their hearts and emotions.  In this section of Luke’s story, they are standing in Jerusalem, looking at the temple, enthralled by its beauty.  They say to Jesus something like “Isn’t the temple great, Jesus?”

And what does Jesus say? “It’s all going to be demolished.”

Why would he say this?

If you want to find out, check out Luke 21:5-38, and join us at Faith Church on Sunday 4/24!

*Have no fear for our sanctuary!  The story above is false, created to illustrate what the disciples might have felt like that day.  Lancaster County Tourism won’t demolish our church.  In fact the opposite is true!  By all means, come visit Lancaster County!  I may be biased, but our county is a simply beautiful place to live and visit.  Come discover our incredible PA Dutch food, the fascinating Anabaptist (particularly Amish and Mennonite) heritage, the gorgeous farmlands, our history (did you know Lancaster was capital of the USA for a day?), and our city which has become an arts and music hub. Not to mention that Faith Church, located along one of the busiest tourist routes in Lancaster, LOVES tourists!

Published by joelkime

I love my wife, Michelle, and our four kids and two daughters-in-law. I serve at Faith Church and love our church family. I teach a course online from time to time, and in my free time I love to read and exercise, especially running,

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