UMTV: Church Salutes Veterans
First United Methodist Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania remembers the contributions of members who have served in the military, including those families who have lost loved ones.
(Locator: Lancaster, Pennsylvania.)
(Voice of Diane Styer) "Three years."
Diane Styer, Member, First United Methodist Church: "It's become almost my mission in life, to remember Brandon. I'm Diane Styer, I'm a member here at First United Methodist Church. My son was killed in Afghanistan. He was driving in the first truck when they hit an IED. The night we found out Brandon was killed on October 15, 2009, the minister from this church, even though we weren't members at the time, he called me. So we had Brandon's funeral here, knowing that we were going to have at least 600 people at the funeral and we had over 800. So, they did so much for us and just showed us Christ's love through their actions."
The Styer family joined others at First United Methodist Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania for a special salute to veterans on November 11. Amid the flags and mementos, dozens of photos and stories honored members and relatives who served in the Armed Forces from the Revolutionary War to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Karen Senkowski ,Staff, First United Methodist Church: "Some of the older people are looking at their pictures from many years ago. It made them proud that people understand what they have done. There are 84 on display today."
Don and Ann Banzhof, Members, First United Methodist Church: "A lot of people gave their lives. Her brother lost his legs.Seems like too many people today forget that."
David and Ann Burns, Members, First United Methodist Church: "This church does a lot to reach out to veterans. They do what they can. If they know somebody has a problem, they will go and help them, possibly financially, if necessary."
In 2007, members Lou and Dotty Riedlinger were greeters on Sunday when they noticed church collection baskets for several ministries, but not for veterans, so they acted.
Lou Riedlinger, Armed Services Support Ministry: "I served in both World War II and the Korean Conflict. I have a very soft spot in my heart for veterans. The name of the ministry is the Armed Services Support Ministry. From 2007-2011, we collected 11,000 dollars for phone cards.That was some 2300 phone cards."
(Dotty Riedlinger puts items on table)"Well, I got some things for the guys up at the Lebanon hospital."
Lou Riedlinger, Armed Services Support Ministry, First United Methodist Church: "We decided that now our efforts would go toward the Veterans Hospital and their needs. We had several hundred thank you notes produced by the church. These notes will be taken primarily to the Veterans Hospital up in Lebanon, Pennsylvania."
Young girl: "Thanks for your service."
Young girl: "Thanks you for serving our country so much for all your hard work."
Twenty-year-old Andrew King is a church member who was glad to write his own words of gratitude.
Andrew King, Member, First United Methodist Church: "I read the note that they had on the piece of paper. I saw that he lost two of his legs and four of his fingers. It hit close to home because that's all I have on each hand."
Dotty Riedlinger, Armed Services Support Ministry, First United Methodist Church: "Today was the most fabulous day in my life. We were finally bringing out to all of our congregation how important our vets are and how important our people that are in the service right now."
Julie Grove, Member, First United Methodist Church: "This event means everything to me. As a parent of a soldier going overseas. Today as I was driving in here, I was thinking you can't do enough; you can't thank them enough."
The Rev. J. William Lentz Jr., First United Methodist Church: "We owe it as a matter of Christian principal to reach out to men and women who are in service to remember that we send our mothers and fathers, our husbands and wives, our sons and daughters, our brothers and sisters to perhaps put their lives on the line for an ideal."
(Musician plays "Taps")
(Voice of Diane Styer) "I think it's important to remember Brandon...."
(Pastor gives flag to parents) "This flag is presented to you on behalf of a grateful nation. "
(Voice of Diane Styer) "...and to not let his memory die...."
(Flag presentation) "It is a symbol of honorable and faithful service."
(Voice of Diane Styer) "...because of what he did. He died for our freedoms."
For more information, contact First United Methodist Church at 717-394-7231, or on the web at EngageGodFirst.org
This story was first published on November 28, 2012