By Peter Becker
HAWLEY - Among the churches of the Hawley area is one that is marking its 30th anniversary since it opened in a historic location downtown, and for the past 25 years has been on the hill behind the Post Office.
New Covenant Fellowship Pentecostal Church has an active congregation, with two pastors, Senior Pastor Robert Nurnberger and Pastor Jackie Mohrmann. The church is heavily involved in both local and foreign mission work and place much emphasis on applying the Bible to daily life, fervent prayer and encouraging others to find their hope in God.
Their first "official" service was held Sunday, April 24, 1983 in a large rented room in the second floor of the Odd Fellows Hall, at corner of Main Avenue and River Street. This historic brick building, built in 1898, was the site of many community meetings and activities over the years. The meeting rooms previously served at least two other religious groups, St. Paul's Lutheran Church in the 1920's following their church fire and until their new church was ready, and the Christadelphians in the 1940's.
In the summer of 1982, two Hawley area businessmen, who were actively devoted to their faith, had a vision for a new church in Hawley, in the Pentecostal tradition. They were Jack Brand, a tree surgeon and his brother-in-law Rex B. Nichols, who operated a building company and pest extermination company. Both were originally from Elmira, NY.
Rex often gave testimony that he was a confirmed atheist. He made a decision to follow Christ while attending a meeting of the Full Gospel Businessmen Fellowship International in Scranton, in 1976.
They were active at the 1st Assembly of God at Greentown at the time, although they both lived in Tafton. In 1977, Rex formed the Pocono Mountain Chapter of the Full Gospel Businessmen, and was instrumental in establishing a Christian TV ministry, Cross Broadcasting Corporation.
Rex and his wife Ondra and Jack and his wife Kathy first held small church meetings in the Brand home starting in 1982. Once they established a church downtown, their congregation quickly grew.
Robert Nurnberger, who is now Senior Pastor, came aboard later in 1983 as Assistant Pastor. He is a 1975 graduate of Bethel Bible College in Boston. Also in the fall of 1983, the current Missions Director, Peter Becker, began attending.
Their church downtown was over a store called "Pots & Pans" that sold kitchen utensils. The church obtained the nickname, the "Pots & Pans Church."
Both of the founders became ordained Rev. Jack Brand was the pastor. Gifted musically, he would lead a band both at the church and on a float during the July 4th parade in Hawley. Their group was "The Gospel Celebration."
New Covenant Fellowship grew in ministries, and starting in 1984, established their first mission work, supporting a church in Haiti. Several mission trips have been conducted to Haiti, most recently in 2012. Rev. Nurnberger has taken several mission trips to the Philippines. In 2004, one of their church members, Ada Jensen, was part of a group from New Covenant Fellowship that went to the Philippines. While there she sensed a call to become a full-time missionary, and returned in 2006 to establish an orphanage. They also actively support a missionary to China, who states he received his call to this mission field while visiting New Covenant Fellowship.
The "Pots & Pans" location quickly became too small, and a building program began.
Land became available off Columbus Avenue in Palmyra Township- Wayne County, diagonally behind the Post Office. The Township approved the plan. In December 1984 the church purchased 11.5 acres from Irvin L. Fisher Construction Company (portions were since sold off). The land had to be leveled off, and the ceremonial ground-breaking occurred in October 1987.
In the 19th Century, the parcel was part of Hawley's Pennsylvania Coal Company gravity railroad yard and where the coal storage pockets sat.
In August of 1988 the congregation moved across the Middle Creek to their own facility, located off Columbus Avenue.
The steel-frame church is 50 by 150 feet and the sanctuary can hold up to 250 persons.
In 1990 the membership voted in a full-time pastor, Rev. George Oriani; Rev. Brand continued as Senior Pastor.
In January of 1991, a modular home was donated by the Strasser family, for a parsonage. This was set at the opposite end of the parcel, close to North Street.
Rev. Jack Brand passed away in September 1993. In July 1996, Rev. Oriani had left, and Rev. Nurnberger- known as "Pastor Bob" and having served as Assistant Pastor, was named Pastor.
Rev. Rex Nichols died in March of 1999.
In the summer of 2003, the $225,000 church mortgage was completely paid off. That same year, Pastor Bob and his wife Theresa were married at the church.
Rev. Jackie Mohrmann, who had become Assistant Pastor, was named Pastor in 2006. Rev. Nurnberger became Senior Pastor. Both are certified in Biblical counseling.
The current official board includes both pastors, elder Warren Jaggars and elder/Missions Director Peter Becker, and deacons Jean Becker and Gene Morhrmann Jr. Carl Harrison is in charge of a men's group, the Band of Brothers; Linda Jaggars coordinates Ladies in Fellowship Together (LIFT) as well as the Worship Team. Marianne Korman oversees the children's ministries, with Jean Becker, April Mohrmann and Theresa Nurnberger serving as teachers.
Their Sunday service is at 10:30 a.m. with Sunday School at 9 a.m., and Wednesday night Bible Study is at 7 p.m.