THE END OF this year marks the end of an era in Union Bridge. The Rev. Paul Steiner, pastor at Union Bridge Church of the Brethren for the past 20 years, will give his last sermon and conduct his closing service at the church Sunday.
Steiner will be pastor at Mountville Church of the Brethren in Lancaster County, Pa. He and his wife, Donna, will leave for the new post Monday.
It's been an eventful 20 years for Steiner.
During his tenure, the congregation has added an educational wing to the building, created a nursery school, expanded vacation Bible school and added a second worship service.
"The people have had a vision to provide for the community," Steiner said. "The greatest challenge has been to stay ahead of the community's needs. It was a stable congregation when I arrived here, with about 160 members attending weekly services."
It remains that way today. According to Steiner, responding to community needs has been the congregation's strength. An example is the nursery school program started at the church 13 years ago.
"The county closed its nursery school program, and then we opened our own, with community support. We have 30 preschoolers coming to half-day sessions. That's been a real pleasant surprise -- to have it go and support itself financially," he said.
Steiner has been preparing his final sermon since last week.
What will he miss about his post?
"I'll miss the people," he said. "In 20 years you touch their lives in many wonderful ways -- in both joy and sorrow. I'll miss the creative worship services -- we have a lot of creative people who plan the services around various themes."
All three of Steiner's adult sons grew up in Carroll; their memories are here.
"These have been real good years," Steiner said.
But it's time to move on.
"I feel strongly in the call of ministry, and when that call comes, you need to respond. I felt some anxiety, but it's always right to answer God's call," he said.
Pub Date: 12/12/96