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Sunday will be a day of celebration at St. Paul Baptist Church in Donora.

This week’s 10 a.m. service will celebrate the 105th anniversary of the church, as well as the ninth pastoral anniversary of the Rev. Lee A. Haney and First Lady Brenda Haney.

“It feels really special,” Haney said. “It feels really good. It doesn’t even feel like I’ve been there for nine years.”

The theme for both celebrations will be “Becoming All God Wants You To Be,” based on scripture from Colossians 3:1, “Since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your heart on things above. Where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things.”

The celebrant for the church and pastoral anniversary will be the Rev. Kenneth E. Johnson, a resident of Pittsburgh who is part of the ministerial team at Triumph Baptist Church in Sewickley.

The church will reflect on its humble beginnings as a missionary society born of the vision of a Mrs. Penn and established out of her home in Donora. Shortly thereafter, she had to relocate to the historic Star Theater, when her home became too small to accommodate the number of people seeking a church home.

The church remained at the Star Theater until 1925, when a resolution was made to begin construction at the church’s current location of 49 S. McKean Ave.

“This (celebration) is for the church itself,” Haney said. “After this pandemic, we’re trying to get the church back together, knowing church is never going to be the same. I’m looking to have a bigger crowd than I normally have. The church is big enough that we can do social distancing.”

Haney said some of the parishioners – there are 52 families in the congregation – are gradually trickling back to the church for the weekly service. He was celebrating virtual services via Zoom once the pandemic hit, but resumed in-person services recently.

Church members continue to serve the community through a monthly Drive-Up Food Distribution under the umbrella of its St. Paul Hope Ministry.

Haney said this community service provides food for about 150 to 200 families.

“It has been very rewarding,” Haney said of his time as pastor. “I have seen growth in the church. I have seen growth in people’s lives. I have seen people get closer to God and really, really serve God.”

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