The New Asbury

New Pastoral Team

In June of 1974 the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference appointed the Reverend John C. Kulp and the Reverend Barry A. Wolfe to shepherd Asbury through a difficult interim and construction period.

On April 25, 1975 the congregation gathered at the Masonic Temple to celebrate the thirtieth year of ministry of its pastor, the Reverend John C. Kulp. Mrs. Ellsworth Machin chaired the arrangements for the evening. Participating in the program were Associate Pastor Barry Wolfe, the Contemporary Choir, Gerald Hertz, Chairman of the Pastor-Parish Relations Committee, and Pastor Kulp’s children, Susan and Jack, Jr. Former Asbury pastor the Reverend Dr. Charles Yrigoyen bought the message of the evening, which he entitled, "Called to Be A Minister."

Consecration of the New Asbury

The service of consecration for the new church was held on December 7, 1975 . Presiding at the service was Bishop James M. Ault, the last person to preach in the former building. He commented that though he always hoped to "warm" the hearts of his congregations, he had not thought a fire was necessary! Bishop Ault took his text from Romans 12 and Mark 1:14-20. Also participating in the service were Pastor John C. Kulp, Associate Pastor Barry A. Wolfe, Samuel D. Henritzy, chairman of the Corporate Body, John Ihm, Treasurer of the Board of Trustees and Chairman of the Worship Commission, S. Glenn Ellenberger, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, William H. Kemmler, Chairman of the Building Committee, Eleanor Henritzy, Chairman of the Commemorative Gifts Committee, and Ellsworth C. Machin, Jr., General Contractor.

New Facilities

The program for the service noted several features of the new structure. The Allen Organ installed was a 4-manual, 86 stop computerized instrument. The heart of the organ was a set of six digital computers, each the equivalent of 48,000 transistors. Thirteen audio channels spoke through 20 tone cabinets. The tubular chimes from the former organ had been refurbished and added to the organ. Finally, additional computer “boards” could augment the computerized instrument very easily. So pleased was Allen Organ with the largest organ they had yet built, they offered to maintain it cost free if they could demonstrate the organ to prospective customers for a period of time.

A master control room behind the narthex would control an equalized voice reinforcement sound system. The system could make stereophonic recordings and playback. Radio broadcasts of services originated here. Speakers were built in the narthex, corridor, classrooms and fellowship hall for those occasions when attendance exceeded the seating capacity of the sanctuary. Fellowship Hall, located below the sanctuary also had its own sound system for providing music during fellowship activities. (The controls for the sanctuary were relocated into the sanctuary in 1989.)

The sanctuary was enhanced by stained glass windows designed and built by Willet Stained Glass Studios. Once again the theme of the Trinity was portrayed as the windows were built in three lancets, but with depictions that carried from window to the next. The earth and the Holy Spirit are also themes of the window. These windows were executed in faceted glass, about an inch thick, set in a matrix of epoxy resin. The hues were varied, but were largely in yellow, red and brown to harmonize with the building and its decor. Another window was designed by Willet and installed in the narthex area.

The new sanctuary was designed to be flexible in the chancel area, making possible a variety of worship experiences, concert performances, or dramatic productions. All of the furniture in the chancel area was easily movable. The organ was provided with a long enough tether to allow it to be played from a variety of locations around the chancel. Above the chancel area a large skylight allows for sunlight to backlight the chancel. Spotlights can be used to highlight certain areas of the chancel as worship moves into various portions of the service. When just the large suspended wooden cross is illuminated the appearance of three crosses reflects on the front sanctuary walls. The pulpit was equipped with controls allowing its occupant to control the lights. It was thought this would be especially valuable in a tennebrae service. However the pulpit was considered to be bulky and was soon placed in storage. The smaller lectern became the pulpit. The central section of the chancel railing was removable except when in use for the sacrament of Communion.

New Programs

Asbury Chancel Theatre Society (ACTS)

The new facilities had the ability to clear the chancel area of all furnishings, and to move the organ from its usual location behind chancel. Congregational members with great dramatic and musical abilities now formed the ACTS theatre society, and proceeded to produce dramatic and musical productions. The first presentation in 1985 was “No Name in the Street,” by Edward Murch. His script was expanded so that more than 50 people were able to participate. Drama has also been integrated into worship services on various occasions.

(For more information including a list of dramas, see our ACTS page).

Hanging of the Greens

A new celebration begun in 1976 was entitled “The Hanging of the Greens.” On the first Saturday of December the congregation gathered to decorate the sanctuary and class rooms with greens and brightly colored banners. The Youth presented a spaghetti dinner as a fund raiser and as a service to the church. Larry Kelly led a group of school age band members during dinner. Then a musical worship presentation in the sanctuary capped the evening. This evening proved to be so popular that it has been continued since.

Asbury Nursery School

Asbury decided to implement a pre-school public nursery program in 1978. The pre-school board would operate independently, but under the auspices and approval, and with the aid, of the Church. A director was hired and the school was soon swamped with applications.

Director of Christian Education

As the building was under construction, the church realized a long sought after goal to enhance the education program. The Education Work Area with the leadership of John H. Gauger obtained permission to add a Director of Christian Education. With that accomplished, Clarence Jones was appointed to chair a search committee. The result was the hiring of Cheryl Williams as Asbury’s first full-time Director. She began work in the summer of 1975.

Asbury In Mission (AIM)

In response to concerns from some members that we were enjoying our new facilities so much we might forget to reach out to others, Associate Pastor Barry Wolfe led the Missions Work area to form a new effort entitled “Asbury in Mission,” to be known as AIM. The giving was to be in addition to that already being budgeted to the Missions “Advanced Specials” and to the work of the Board of Global Ministries--second mile giving. The campaign was successful and reached its first year goal of $45,000.


Researched and Compiled by John H. Gauger, Asbury Church Historian