by Don Fitzkee
Chiques Church of the Brethren, located near Manheim, Pa., kicked off its 150th anniversary celebration on Sunday, April 15, with a morning worship service that incorporated practices from earlier years. Men and women sat on separate sides of the sanctuary. Ministers and deacons, dressed in plain white shirts, were seated facing toward the congregation, in order of their call to lifetime office.
Moderator Michael S. Hess and assistant moderator Nate Myer preached the “long” and “short” sermon, respectively, from behind the historic preachers’ table that was preserved from the congregation’s former Mt. Hope meetinghouse. Other worship features included a hymn “lined” by chorister Mark Brubaker, two kneeling prayers, followed by the Lord’s Prayer each time, and a capella congregational singing. The order of worship approximated the style that would have been practiced at Chiques in the late 1800s into the first half of the 20th century.
Don Fitzkee shared historical facts and photos with youth and adults during the Sunday school hour, with an emphasis on buildings and worship practices. Fitzkee is writing a congregational history that is expected to be completed after the anniversary year.
The Chiques congregation peacefully separated from White Oak Church of the Brethren in 1868, becoming a congregation of about 200 members. After growing to more than 700 members, Chiques divided in 1902, giving birth to three daughter congregations: East Fairview, Elizabethtown, and West Green Tree. Chiques members also planted the New Beginnings congregation in Brickerville in 2004. Chiques is one of a half dozen congregations in Atlantic Northeast District that has preserved a non-salaried, plural ministry. The congregation of 450 members is served by a team of 6 ministers and more than a dozen deacons.
Chiques will conclude the anniversary year celebration with a special homecoming service on Sunday, Sept. 16. Bethany Theological Seminary President Jeff Carter will preach at the 10:15 a.m. worship service, which also will feature music from a men’s quartet and the senior choir. Fitzkee again will lead a history session during the 9 a.m. Sunday school hour. The day will include a noon fellowship meal, followed by a bus tour of local historical sites. Advance reservations are requested for the bus tour.
Members of the 150th anniversary committee are Mark Brubaker, Don Fitzkee, Nancy Brandt, Linda Bruckhart, and Denise Hess.