Mortgage burning celebration held at Lackawanna County church

Members of Countryside Community Church near Clarks Summit set fire to their mortgage in a celebration on Sunday.

LACKAWANNA COUNTY, Pa. — Members of the Countryside Community Church in Newton Near Clarks Summit spoke words of praise as they set fire to the church’s mortgage during a celebration after worship.

“This is the first time I’ve been here my I started serving in 1985. This is the first church I’ve been at where I was there at that moment where we paid it off,” said Pastor Jim Hollister, Countryside Community Church.

The church entered into this 30-year mortgage in 2011 after four churches in the area made the decision to merge into one in 2008, “Schultzville, Newton, Ransom, and Milwalke United Methodist,” said Pastor Jim.

“In 2011, we signed a mortgage for 1,000,280 some $1,000. And started building the church. In July of 2012, we had our first service today. This church will be debt free,” said Keith Eckel, chair of trustees.

“It’s gonna make it so much easier to get close to the budget. It’s a big deal for our church,” said Lois Doble, Clarks Summit.

Leaders at the church tell Newswatch 16 it wasn’t easy getting through a merger and a pandemic but the support of volunteers and more made it all possible.

“And we got to the point this year where it looked like we could possibly get it completely paid off. We started a campaign in September, and at that time, it was over $100,000, and we were able to get it paid off in three months from that point,” said Bob Doble, Clarks Summit.

“Just the dedication of the people looking around the room this morning. All volunteers did this work? No individual can take credit. This was a huge group effort but would have never been successful in my mind if this wasn’t God’s mission,” said Eckel.

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