www.timesleader.com News Sports Weather Obituaries Features Business People Opinion Video Contact Us Classifieds


KIMBERLY DAVIS kdavis@leader.net

Thursday, June 21, 2001     Page:

Bells of St. Luke
    Aloft in yonder tower,
    Now sound our hallowed bells;
    When'er we hear their message,
    o may we heed it well.
    From the hymn "Our Hallowed Bells"
    A long silence was broken in Wilkes-Barre this spring as some neighbors in the North End section welcomed the return of the appealing peal of the carillon bells at St. Lukes United Church of Christ.
    "It's been about 15 or 16 years that we've been silent," said Linda Young, secretary of St. Lukes United Church of Christ at Hollenback Avenue and North Main Street.
    The bells are set to chime on the hour from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and play hymns at noon and 6 p.m.
    Sunday the Goeringer Memorial Carillon was rededicated at the North End church, thanks to the generosity of one family, and one man in particular, the late Howard C. Goeringer, a parishioner who went on to become a minister.
    St. Lukes Church was incorporated in 1893 at the Guthrie School on North Washington Street and moved to its current location in 1925. The Rev. Gary Jones has been pastor for 13 years.
    A family tradition
    The first set of carillon bells at St. Lukes was donated by Goeringer's ancestors and dedicated in November 1950. They provided music for decades, but wore out and were unable to be repaired.
    Last summer during a visit to the Wyoming Valley, Goeringer learned that the bells were no longer in operation. He encouraged family members to purchase and donate new bells, an act that turned out to be one of his last wishes.
    Goeringer died on June 3 in Tallahassee, Fla., at age 88. Family members reported that his final moments were spent listening to scriptures and the taped sound of the new carillon chimes.
    The chimes, purchased from Schulmerich Carillons, Inc. of Sellersville, were installed earlier in the year, but the dedication service was postponed in the hope that Goeringer could attend the ceremony.
    That time never came. The Goeringer Memorial Carillon was rededicated on Father's Day, with the benefactor present in the hearts and memories of the gathered congregation and guest family members.
    "Howard (Goeringer) was involved in coordinating the rededication service," Jones said. "He kept in touch by telephone."
    The service included a presentation of the carillon by Goeringer's daughter, Karen Goeringer-Snider; acceptance of the gift by congregation representative Robert Hooley; and a responsive prayer of rededication by the Rev. Edgar Roosa.
    The rededication hymn "Our Hallowed Bells" was sung to the tune of "The Church's One Foundation" on the carillon, while the rich tones of the bells echoed through the surrounding streets.
    Present in spirit
    A memorial plaque was unveiled by Christine Goeringer Binford. The bronze plaque reads: The replacement carillon is dedicated to the Glory of God in memory of Elder and Mrs. Fred Goeringer, Fred Goeringer Jr., Lilly Frances Goeringer, Dr. Raymond Goeringer, Harry Sr. and Mary Goeringer and their sons, Harry Jr. and Carl; Wilbur Goeringer; and Rev. Howard C. Goeringer.
    "He sought no recognition, but gained strength through his faith," spoke Goeringer's daughter, Kathy Hennings.
    Other family members participating in the service included: daughters Kristen Russell, Gwynne Fulkman and Gretchen Craig; Carolyn Goeringer Basler; Eleanor Goeringer Taylor; Mary Jane Goeringer; and Carl Goeringer. The Rev. David Gallick and H. Merritt Hughes also officiated.
    Goeringer's widow, Marge Davis Goeringer of Tallahassee, was unable to attend the service but family members videotaped the ceremony for her.
    Four-month-old Craig Nicholas, the newest member of the Goeringer family, traveled from Springfield, Va., for the special event. He slept undaunted in the arms of his mother as the carillon pealed.
    A loving legacy
    Howard C. Goeringer, born in Wilkes-Barre, was the son of the late Fred Sr. and Catherine Goeringer. He graduated from Union Theological Seminary in New York City and was ordained as a minister at St. Lukes. Goeringer was instrumental in starting and supporting many worthwhile programs during his lifetime.
    Goeringer served as pastor of St. John's United Church of Christ, Reading, and started and directed St. Johns-in-the-Poconos, an interracial summer Christian camp for children. He also served as executive secretary of the Wyoming Valley Council of Churches; on the staff of the Philadelphia Cooperative Ministry; as minister of community relations in Newark, N.J., where he initiated the city's first drug rehabilitation program, and helped to organize Good News Ministries. He was founder and editor of the Jesus Journal.
    In a fitting tribute to their ancestors, about three dozen members of the Goeringer family on Sunday sang the first verse of the hymn "Faith of Our Fathers" and were joined by the congregation to the last "Amen."
    A few tears accompanied the carillon during the emotional closing of the rededication service, followed by the hugs of family and friends at a catered luncheon in the church social hall.
The Weekender Go Lackawanna Timesleader The Dallas Post Tunkhannock Times Impressions Media The Abington Journal Hazelton Times Five Mountain Times El Mensajero Pittston Sunday Dispatch Creative Circle Media Image Map