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Sweet Deal

Church leases strategic location in heart of Hershey, Pennsylvania.

On Aug. 24, 1914, Milton Hershey stood outside of the M.S. Hershey Consolidated School of Derry Township and welcomed its first class of students. A century later, Pastor Shawn Bentley welcomed home the Assemblies of God congregation of Life Church.

The church was planted in February 2014 in Hershey, Pennsylvania, known both as "Chocolate Town, USA" and "The Sweetest Place on Earth."

For the first several months, services took place in a local movie theater, followed by a brief transition to a local elementary school.  The new permanent residence is located two blocks from Hershey Square, which is at the intersection of Chocolate and Cocoa avenues.

PennDel District Superintendent Stephen Tourville says district leaders have been praying about planting a church in Hershey for years. He considers the location strategic considering nearby Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and the number of professionals living and working in the area.

"We want to see it become a dynamic Pentecostal influence of discipling people for Christ and making an impact on that whole community," Tourville says.

The district designated the church as a 2015 Home Missions Fundraising Project. Bentley says the church also received a tremendous push toward its goal from the AG Church Multiplication Network, which provided $30,000 in start-up funding.

Life Church occupies 16,000 square feet on the top floor of the building. The first floor is home to Derry Township School District office administration.

The newly leased space includes a dining hall, an auditorium that seats about 130, and 10 large classrooms. Renovations have begun and will include a children's area, nursery, offices and a café.

In keeping with the church's trifold mission to reach, cultivate, and grow, Bentley says congregants participate in monthly outreaches to the community such as performing random acts of kindness or distributing cookies and fresh fruit to local business owners.

Relationships are nurtured in life groups and at monthly fellowship events. Opportunities for spiritual growth also will be offered through discipleship classes launching this fall.

The tagline of the church is "momentum for the journey" and that journey, Bentley says, is helping people become devoted followers of Jesus Christ.

"We want to be a Spirit-filled environment where people can grow in their relationship with God," he says.


Shannon M. Nass

Shannon Nass and her husband, Greg, are credentialed ministers with the Assemblies of God and live in Bethel Park, Pennsylvania, with their twin daughters, Naomi and Charlotte. Shannon is a freelance writer and special education teacher who also serves as coordinator for Beyond Survival Ministries, a Christian nonprofit organization dedicated to spreading the gospel.