Todd Blanchard's announcement about the Rev. Martin Luther King caused quite a stir among the congregants of Countryside Fellowship in Dover Township.
He informed the church that the civil rights leader had once spoken from their recently installed pulpit, which came from the former Allison United Methodist Church building in Carlisle, Cumberland County.
"When I told the church the significance of the pulpit, they were shocked," said Blanchard, the maintenance director at Countryside Fellowship at 1214 Big Mount Road.
King used pulpit: King spoke from the pulpit April 11, 1961, as a participant in Dickinson College's Representative American Preachers series held at Allison UMC, according to information provided by Christine Dugan, the college's spokeswoman.
King's lecture title was "The Dimensions of a Complete Life," according to a report on the 1961 event by the Dickinsonian, the college student newspaper.
King, born in Jan. 15, 1929, was assassinated April 4, 1968. Martin Luther King Day, a national holiday, will be observed this year on Monday, Jan. 20.
A plaque commemorating King's Allison UMC visit has been placed outside the building.
Allison UMC no longer worships in the building, which was purchased by Dickinson College in January 2013 for use as "event space" for guest speakers and student presentation, Dugan said.
After taking possession of the building in July 2013, the college arranged for items from Allison's former sanctuary to be cleared out to make room for Dickinson's renovation project, she said.
Pulpit 'worth keeping': Lobar Associates, a construction company, was bought in last year to clear out the items, which included an altar rail and two pulpits, one small and the other 9 feet tall.
Blanchard, also a Lobar Associates superintendent, said that he initially did not know that the large pulpit had a King history.
However, Blanchard said he did have a feeling that the large pulpit was worth keeping. It was "too ornate" to ignore with its grooves, posts, thickness and mahogany features, he said.
Dickinson maintenance officials did not have a place to store the pulpit, so they donated it to Countryside Fellowship along with the altar rail, Blanchard said.
He said he learned about the pulpit's history until after he had taken it. Frank Laquitara from Dickinson College told him the history, Blanchard said. Dugan said Laquitara is the college's associate director of projects and facilities.
Blanchard said he stood behind the pulpit once it was installed in October at Countryside Fellowship, which celebrated its 15th anniversary last year.
"The pulpit, it livened up the place, made the church different," he said. "We have a piece of history in our church."
--Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at email@example.com.