A Beacon for Cranberry Township: Dutilh Church to Raise Steeple
The church is one of the first buildings visible upon entering the township.
As drivers exit Interstate 79 or the turnpike, one of the first buildings they see is Dutilh United Methodist Church in Cranberry Township, and that’s a good thing, according to Dwayne Burfield, the church’s senior pastor.
“Our church is sitting almost in the gateway to Butler County,” he said.
The bad thing is drivers sometimes mistake the large brick building for office space, he said. After Friday, that will no longer be the case.
A project years in the making, the church is erecting a 40-foot-steeple at the front of the building, doubling its height. Debbie Pisor, Dutilh’s pastor of externally-focused ministry, said the steeple not only will welcome people as they enter Cranberry, it will proclaim the building as a place of worship.
“People have said a steeple is meant historically to turn your eyes to heaven and draw your eyes to God,” she said. “It’s been a longtime dream of the people who are part of this church.”
Burfield compared the soon-to-be erected steeple to a local version of a famous New York City landmark.
“This steeple is going to act like a beacon,” he said. “I would almost liken it to something like the Statue of Liberty. It shows love, hope, peace and acceptance.”
Pisor said the steeple also will have special meaning to longtime members of the church who witnessed the original building -- as small white structure built in 1844 -- destroyed during a fire in 1986. Church member Judi Boren said the flames were suspected as arson, but the case was never solved.
After the fire, church vowed to build bigger. In 1988, the newly erected Dutilh United Methodist Church building was dedicated, but plans for a steeple were put on hold as the congregation concentrated on completing the sanctuary and classrooms, according to Boren.
After contracting to re-shingle the roof this fall, church leaders decided the time was right to add the steeple. Through a yearlong fundraising campaign, Burfield said the church pulled together about $135,000 for the project.
After it was determined the open concept was not energy-friendly, the steeple will be an enclosed structure. It will not include the bell from the original church. Although it was rescued from the fire and is in a rose garden on the church’s property, the bell was deemed too heavy to be re-installed atop the steeple.
A crane will be onsite to raise the steeple at 8 a.m. Friday morning. The process should take two to three hours. Pisor said the public is welcome to attend the event.