York Town Square

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York Gospel Center paved way for megachurch LCBC, other big York County suburban churches

This undated poster tells about activities at Penn Grove Campground in Heidelberg Township. That camp meeting moved from a site between Mount Wolf and Emigsville in the late 1880s, and continues to operated as a day camp today. Thousands of families camped at the Smith Station site over the decades, including many years under the watch of the York Gospel Center. Background posts: Billy Graham: ‘I do remember him being here and what a thrill it was’, Retiring pastor: ‘I’ll miss the people’ and Tomb of unknown soldier in York, too.

The Lancaster County megachurch LCBC plans to renovate the old Saturn dealership in Springettsbury Township.
When up and running, the 9,000-member church will extend the growth of huge, independent suburban churches in York County. Grace Fellowship, Living Word Community Church and Church of the Open Door are among that group.
The York Gospel Center was the first in that line. It was so big that it operated its own camp for years – Penn Grove Camp in Heidelberg Township… .

Campers outside a cottage at Penn Grove Camp in southwestern York County.
I explored the Gospel Center-LCBC tradition in my York Sunday News column (8/24/10): Megachurch should be welcomed.
That church’s pastor Ralph Boyer was responsible for bringing Billy Graham to York in 1940 for his first crusade north of the Mason-Dixon Line.
Here’s another connection between Billy Graham and Ralph Boyer, from a sidebar that ran with my column:

The Billy Graham-Ralph Boyer family linkup extends far beyond York County’s borders to France.
More than 50 years ago, Eugene Boyer, one of Ralph and Anna Boyer’s sons, worked with the French team of a missionary organization, Youth for Christ, then headed by a young Billy Graham.
Banner of Truth Trust magazine reported that Eugene Boyer continued on as a missionary, caring for a diverse people.
One unusual ministry was among gypsies.
“Years ago, he would visit gypsy camps, and entertain them around the campfire by playing a trumpet and an accordion – simultaneously,” the organization reported.
In 2003, the magazine said gypsies still called upon him to preach.
And so do many others seven years later.
The former York countian is still a missionary to France.

Photo courtesy of York County Heritage Trust.