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Daystar Chapel celebrates 10 years with special service Saturday night

  • Pastor Deborah Hill does a touch-up to a statue of Jesus in front of the Daystar Chapel Holiness Church, 101 E. Homer St., in Harrisburg. Hill said the church will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a special service at 6 p.m. Saturday. All are invited.

    Pastor Deborah Hill does a touch-up to a statue of Jesus in front of the Daystar Chapel Holiness Church, 101 E. Homer St., in Harrisburg. Hill said the church will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a special service at 6 p.m. Saturday. All are invited.
    TRAVIS DENEAL PHOTO

 
By Travis DeNeal tdeneal@dailyregister.com
updated: 6/20/2018 9:44 AM

HARRISBURG -- By many accounts, the little church at 101 E. Homer St. shouldn't be open, much less celebrating its 10-year anniversary this Saturday.

But, Pastor Deborah Hill says it's one of the many miracles she has seen in her 16 years in the ministry.

"God has been good to us," Hill says. "God is good, all the time."

Daystar Chapel Holiness Church is the name of the church now, but the building is much older than the current active church body, she said.

She said she had been told that the original structure was built in 1945 when a split developed in the Church of God in Harrisburg. A man named John Gaines and about half of the congregation left and built the church that today is Daystar Chapel.

"Originally, the lot it was built on was used for circuses and tent revivals," Hill said. "If the revival was still going on and it was after dark, they'd turn on car lights and shine them in so they could see."

The church Gaines founded was known as the Church of God of Prophecy, and inside the church there's an enormous wooden cross on the ceiling.

"That was going to be the symbol of those churches, according to what I've been told," Hill said.

Gaines later fell ill, and the church failed to spread. Eventually, a church organization centered in Edwardsville acquired it before selling it to the church body of Daystar.

"We bought it in April of 2008, and we had some work to do," she said. "We had to replace the walls, the floors, the doors, the windows, some wiring and plumbing; it was kind of run down because nobody was taking care of it. But, everyone's worked hard to get us where we are today."

At 6 p.m. on Saturday, the 10th anniversary service will be a highlight of the church's history. The Rev. Ownly Williams will deliver the message and musical group The Southlanders, of Evansville, Indiana, will sing. Teresa Pankey of Harrisburg, better known as "Mama T," also will sing at the Saturday service.

Hill is optimistic that local people will take notice.

"We're hoping to bring people back into the neighborhood. Right now, we've got about 18 to 20 if everyone can make it," she said. "We got down to 6 to 8 people on a Sunday. People work and can't always make it. But we're ready to show them that we're a good place to worship the Lord."

Hill said she's heard great stories about the church from its early days, when it was still the Church of God of Prophecy. Once, when the church was being built, a man was working high on scaffolding when a storm came up. According to the story, lightning struck the scaffolding and the worker fell, yet was not seriously injured by the fall or the lightning.

Once, when the circuses still performed there, a neighbor was in the habit of getting a morning cup of coffee and going out to her porch to watch. She was shocked one morning to find a loose elephant in her front lawn, Hill said.

The early church there also had members who would cook doughnuts and sell them on Fridays and Saturdays. The money raised help pay the church's expenses.

The church now is nondenominational, Hill said, with several influences.

"We've kind of got a Pentecostal side, and we've got some of the Baptist church, plus we're a full-gospel church," she said.

All are invited to the Saturday service, she said, and she hopes to have a good turnout.

"I'd like to see the church filled like it was before," she said. "We're looking to have a good time. We're small, but we're going strong. "