Pottstown >> Bethel Community Church received the perfect first anniversary present on Sunday.
To the surprise and excitement of its congregation, Patti Distasio, vice president at First Trust Bank, announced Sunday that the church’s mortgage application had been approved.
“We’re financing this building for you,” she said, to the roar of voices screaming “praise God.”
“I love working with people like you to help you get what you need and make your place successful,” she said. “We’re here to help … I’m here because I wanted to represent our bank and say thank you for coming to us and allowing us to help you get to your next level.”
For the past year, the Bethel has shared its space with Congregation Hesed Shel Emet synagogue on North Keim Street. The nondenominational church, under the leadership of the Rev. Dr. Vernon Ross Jr., was originally created to do more ministry in Pottstown. Many congregants from Bethel African Methodist Episcopal church moved with Ross to the new church and the new location.
Before long the church had its eye on purchasing the building. For Ross, the good news from the bank Sunday made him jump for joy on the altar.
“God had his plan,” he said to applause from the crowd.
The church had applied for a mortgage at several banks, each of which was denied, before it turned to First Trust, he said.
“You can rest assured I’ll be transferring my bank account to First Trust,” he said to cheers.
Ross thanked church member Doug Rhedrick, who was the driving force behind the mortgage approval.
“The day he joined is the day he took on the charge,” Ross said of Rhedrick.
He then went on to say that many doubted the church’s capability of pulling off the task.
“Some said I was crazy,” he said. “But if that’s what it took to get to this point then I’m all of that.”
After the big news broke, Amy Wolf, president of Congregation Hesed Shel Emet, reflected on the first time she met Ross.
“I said this is a great man who’s done great things,” she said. “And will continue to do great things. And you could bet I wanted to align myself with him in some way.”
The two began working together officially May 3, 2015 when the two congregations met to discuss the future and how to help each other.
“I really think that Bethel Community Church is our spiritual soul mate,” she said. The two congregations over the past year have experienced their own set of challenges as Bethel continued to grow and the synagogue continued to shrink in membership. Both were learning who they were together and becoming a stronger community because of the other’s presence. “I hope both of our congregations together have been an example to Pottstown of harmony and cooperation.”