Lutheran Church in Harrisburg Plans Final Service After Sale to Muslim Community

Mary Klaus, Patriot-News, October 22, 2010

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The church [Lakeside Lutheran Church] is being sold because of a dwindling congregation, another sign of the changing face of mainline houses of worship across the nation.

Protestant flocks are shrinking, being replaced by other denominations and religions. Lakeside is being sold to a Muslim community.

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“The current membership is not able to keep up with the expenses of such a large building,” said the Rev. Richard Hair, Lakeside interim pastor, and David Fisher, spokesman for Lower Susquehanna Synod Lutheran Bishop B. Penrose Hoover, in a joint statement. “The cost of maintaining the building has drained the financial resources of the church.”

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“Episcopalians, Lutherans, United Church of Christ and United Methodists seem to be losing members,” he said. “Some say they have older styles of worship not attractive now. Some say they don’t demand enough of their members. Nobody knows why.”

Meanwhile, conservative evangelical churches are growing, he said.

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Roman Catholic churches are holding their numbers because of the growth in the Hispanic population, Jacobsen said.

Jacobsen said the Lutheran faith has been losing 1.5 percent to 2 percent of its members a year for the last four or five years, making it among the biggest losers of members.

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Lakeside Lutheran Church, built in 1958, has 24,612 square feet and sits on 11⁄4 acres across from Italian Lake.

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The church is being sold to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, an Islamic religious movement that believes the long-awaited Messiah arrived more than a century ago.

Akram Khalid, president of the York/Harrisburg Central Pennsylvania Chapter of the Ahamdiyya Muslim community, said his group plans to use the building almost immediately “as is.”

lutheran-church

Future mosque.

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