Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Family of Worshippers Finds a House That Will Be Its Home

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Family of Worshippers Finds a House That Will Be Its Home

Article excerpt

Standing in the unfinished basement of a house that soon will become his new church, the Rev. Herb Shaffer was talking about the importance of fire walls, duct work and insulation.

"In Bible college, they didn't teach us about construction," said Shaffer, pastor of the New Song Community Church of God.

Lately, Shaffer has been getting a crash course.

For the past 15 years, Shaffer's congregation has been worshipping in a multipurpose room at Fort Couch Middle School in Upper St. Clair.

It has been leasing that space for $1,500 a month and doing what Shaffer calls "portable church decorations," bringing everything in on Sunday morning, setting up a worship site and then tearing it down.

But in 2003, the congregation of about 150 people bought a house on Library Road in Bethel Park that soon will become its church.

New Song is one of 66 churches in the Western Pennsylvania Ministry of the Church of God, which has its U.S. offices in Anderson, Ind.

According to public records, New Song paid $300,000 for three acres and two houses north of the Hillcrest Shopping Center on Library Road.

Shaffer said the smaller house would be torn down, but the larger one, a 5,000-square-foot, 11-room house that had been broken up into apartments, will become the church's permanent home.

"It is a miracle, three acres on a main road in Bethel Park," said Shaffer, whose congregation raised $230,000 over the years and took out a large loan to make the project work.

"We have $100,000 invested before we even get inside," Shaffer said.

That's because the congregation is installing large tanks in the tract bordering Library Road to handle storm water that otherwise might flood their neighbors once the property is turned into a parking lot.

Shaffer said the church also had had to meet many code restrictions put into place by Bethel Park. …

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