Remembering the Past and Preparing the Way for the Future

Where were you on Sunday, September 30, 1990 when Hebron’s members voted to call Doug Rehberg as Senior Pastor? Some of you were worshiping at Hebron; but most likely a significant number of you had never even heard of Hebron Church or its one-hundred-forty year history.

In 1990 the Chairman of the Pulpit Nominating Committee was William Reichenecker, Arthur Smith was the Clerk of Session, and William Swarner was President of the Board of Trustees—all terrific men who have since gone to be with the Lord. The PNC had searched all over the country for eighteen months, finally finding their candidate in nearby Somerset, PA. The congregation voted in a meeting in the sanctuary after worship to call Doug with a vote of 261 Yes,10 No, 6 Abstain. He was to start on January 1, 1991.

In 2018 Geoff Gehring is PNC Chair, Rod Herrmann is Clerk of Session, and Dave Schirm is President of the Board of Trustees. Our current PNC searched all over the country for eight months, finding their candidate in nearby Beaver, PA. The shortened time span is not due to less work on their part. With the development in technology, the committee was able to view candidate’s sermons via podcast, and interview them face-to-face via skype, removing the necessity of road trips across the country. The congregation voted in a meeting in the sanctuary after worship to call Henry with a vote of 257 Yes, 3 No. Henry will start on January 1, 2019.

On that day in 1990 it’s unlikely that anyone, let alone Doug Rehberg, thought that twenty-eight years and one month would pass before the congregation would vote for its next pastor. And no one would have conceived that the role would be as Co-Pastor in shared leadership with Doug, working together to prepare the way for Hebron’s future.

Doug came to Hebron at a time when the membership rolls had been in a steady decline, down to 714 in 1990 from a peak of 1331 in 1971. Average worship attendance was 288 and the annual operating budget was $213,442. Doug’s call was to revitalize a declining church. In 2018 our operating budget is $1,116,900, with a current membership of 720. Average worship attendance was over 500 four years ago, today it is less than 400. Our community has changed significantly over the past 28 years, but Hebron’s membership has remained steady. Many of our members no longer call Penn Hills home, yet they call Hebron their church home.

In many respects Hebron is at a similar place as it was nearly 30 years ago. The Scriptures are replete with examples of God revitalizing and refreshing the vision of His people. That’s where we are today. With the call of Henry Knapp, the planned expansion of the Barclay Building, and efforts to create new local ministries that meet the needs all around us, Hebron is poised to move into the future with its life-saving ministry.

Hebron Church has a rich legacy of strong leadership—with only nine senior pastors serving over its 168-year history. Henry Knapp will be number 10. The Lord has brought Henry and Kelly Knapp to Hebron—it will be exciting to see how He uses them here.

“For I know the plans I have for you...plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11