We Believe

Every voice matters and should be heard

Members' Stories

Palm Sunday ProcessionalWhat do we love about our church?

Most people say it’s the community. But there are other reasons we love our church and think you would love it too. Our members express it best in their own words. Click below to read some of their insights.

What Our Members Say

The Community

“A genuine Christian community.” ‑K.P.

Photo of Jim S.“I’ve noticed that I’m a much more active participant in this church than I’ve been in other churches during my non-college, adult life, which I think is helpful for me to grow in my faith walk. It’s easy to get plugged in....I love the fellowship at Second City Church. Whether it’s hanging out with families in the park, canoeing, baseball games, rock climbing, Shaffer retreat services, or luncheons, I really enjoy getting to know people better.” ‑Jim S.

“This will always be my church home. This is where my heart is and this is where the Lord is.” ‑Mary W.

“When we started coming to Second City Church, we loved the connection to and love for the arts. Being an artist, myself, this felt like a breath of fresh air. It quickly became a healing place for us, and I personally felt like I belonged as soon as we started attending.” ‑Kacy C.

“People are engaged. Our location in the city means that we tend to have people from fairly different walks of life. I really like that. I like that we try to engage people where they are at regardless of their age, or anything else.” ‑Jess P.

“The main reason I am still a member of the church is the community.” ‑Dawn P.

“These are the people that I can take communion with, and I can trust and share my prayers with. That is huge for me. The love of the people is significant for both Ted and me and others who have expressed exactly that.” ‑Cathy P.

“I love the people. I think they are the salt of the earth. These are the people who have been through tough times, and yet they are still here.” ‑Gordon Z.

“I love the people; those who currently attend, and those who have come and have left. I love the preaching, our worship, and fellowship times.” ‑Kacy C.

“The thing that made us want to be a part of this church was the relationships. It was clear from the get-go that the people who were there were interested in connections on a deeper level. We have found that to be very true over the years.” ‑Dave & Tricia T.

“I first visited City’s Gate church in 1998, and I fell in love with the openness and genuine quality of the people I met there. People did not hesitate to get real about their own spiritual shortcomings. No one was trying to impress me with their religious credentials. I didn’t feel like I had to pretend to be a perfect Christian. I knew I could be myself with this group, so I wanted to stay and grow with these people. A lot of people have come and gone since then, but this aspect of the group is the same.” ‑Sylvia O.

“People matter. We have found the people in this church to be caught up in the restoration wrought from the sound preaching and worship they experience. That is not to say that Second City Church is a perfect community. Far from it. It is to affirm that this is a church composed of many redeemed sinners who now knowing of their wrecked state bask in the grace and balm Jesus alone provides!” ‑Tim C.

“I love that the church is Christ centered and has a fervent desire to love the community around us in the name of Jesus Christ.” ‑Cindy R.

The Origin of Second City Church

photo of Dottie R.“It was a big adjustment for both congregations when the churches merged but it has been a perfect marriage. We had different traditions but we blended together beautifully.” ‑Dottie R.

“[City’s Gate] kept on being thrown out of places [that we were renting to worship]. We would move from place to place, and God kept providing and the church kept going. It was amazing how members of the Second Church were checking us out and they ultimately gave us their building….  And here we are now, still going on.” ‑Gordon & Elaine Z.

“For years the City’s Gate congregation was praying for a location as we were pushing carts and setting up each week at rented locations in the city. God answered our prayers when Second Church approached us, which wasn’t necessarily what we had in mind but was a clear answer to our prayer. Our two churches merged in a time when other churches were splitting up.” ‑Dave & Tricia T.

Our Children
detail of a painting by Catherine Prescott
Detail of a painting
by Catherine Prescott

“Having our grandchild baptized here, and watching the children of friends grow into young adults has been very meaningful.” ‑Ted P.

“Every week when the kids come down the aisle to receive the blessing, it is such a delight to see them and their enthusiasm. It is one of my favorite parts of the service.” ‑Cathy P.

Photo of Mary W.“Most of all I love the children–all of our members embrace the children and take them into their arms and I love that.” ‑Mary W.

“I love Second City because of the commitment to love the children and come alongside parents in teaching them the basic tenets of our faith. One of my favorite parts of the worship service is when Peter calls the children forward and prays over them and then sends them off to Children and Worship as we sing Jesus Loves Me.” ‑Cindy R.

“In Children and Worship my kids love hearing, seeing, wondering about and responding to God's stories. I love that they are learning the order of our worship and follow the liturgical church calendar.” ‑Lenora R.

“I have always been quite impressed with how the fathers and mothers are involved in raising their children and how well they work together. As a second-grade teacher for 32 years, I did not always see that. It really warms my heart to see this in our church.” ‑Dot F.

Jessi G. portrait“I love that Children and Worship gives my kids a safe and open place to encounter stories from the Bible, and explore what they mean. I love watching them begin to understand new things about each lesson each year, and even grow into an ability to guide the younger children into the stories with them. I also cherish that they experience these stories in an environment that mirrors the worship of the larger congregation, so that when they join us for worship, they feel prepared and fully included because they're used to the rhythm of the service.” ‑Jessi G.

“One of my first Sundays at the church I remember Pastor Peter saying that they loved having children in the church with all of their noises and I knew that this was a church I could belong to.” ‑Jess P.

Our Pastor, Peter Rowan

“I love that he relates well to people from 0 to 100.  He is also very good with the shut-ins.” ‑Dot F.

Photo of Cynthia V.“We really appreciate how Peter gets people involved and engages people and invites them to use their talents and gifts. We love that the leadership doesn’t have an agenda, except to lead people in loving Jesus.” ‑Cynthia V.

“I love the sweetness of our pastor. Peter is so welcoming and intentional. I think he is a great leader and his heart is in the right place. I appreciate his staying grounded in his faith as he leads the congregation.” ‑Sylvia O.

“I met Pastor Peter when he came and visited my old neighbor, Ms. Mary, who was part of SCC. His heart was open to me. It was nice. It was the best first impression.” ‑Tiny V.

“A big reason we have stayed is because of Pastor Peter Rowan.” ‑Gordon & Elaine Z.

Worship Services and Theology

Photo of Dawn P.“I like our liturgy, and I love that the preaching addresses our sin and God’s faithfulness over and over again. It is very normal for me to feel emotionally beat up after a church service. I like knowing it’s not a “warm fuzzy” kind of church. If you pay attention, a mirror will show you your sin and a blanket of grace will cover you.” ‑Dawn P.

“I love our [worship] service.” ‑Mary W.

Photo of Bruce W.“I’d never been a part of a Presbyterian church. I’d heard about stuffiness and legalism, but we didn’t find that at all here. There is freedom in Christ and there is joy in worship...I love Sunday morning worship. I love that our songs incorporate hymns and more modern songs. It’s not trite or surfacy, but deep and meaningful...The emphasis on worship and the theology of the church resonated with us.” ‑Bruce W.

“I love the Spirit-filled worship and preaching from throughout the Bible, that always points us to Jesus, His finished work on the cross and the empty tomb.” ‑Kacy C.

Photo of Jess P.“My roommates at the time randomly asked if I wanted to check out a church in the city with them, and I did. The second time I had a conversation with a friend about the liturgy. I felt like it enveloped me and helped me to rest in the context of worship. I’d been to other churches with lots of structure, but I didn’t feel really engaged. It was different here.” ‑Jess P.

“I really enjoy the preaching. It’s biblical and interesting.” ‑Jim S.

“Why Second City Church? Ideas matter. I am convinced I cannot believe that which I do not know. So what I am taught about Jesus, about the Father, about the Spirit, about myself, all of this matters intensely. My wife and I continue to worship and serve at Second City Church primarily because we find that which is preached and taught matches the Bible. Such preaching and hearing is not always comfortable. Sometimes, it is downright upsetting. But that is a good thing.” ‑Tim C.

“I believe that Second City Church is serious about Christianity, the practice of Christianity, adherence to Christian doctrine and teaching and the search for truth.” ‑K.P.


Dave T. portrait“I also appreciate the diversity of perspectives on social issues that exist in our congregation. They challenge me personally in my faith, to have an outward focus, recognizing that there are so many different views within the church, yet we are called to be one body. Second City Church puts me in relationships with people who I would not normally come in contact with and with people that I would not normally choose to be in relationship with; but God’s plan is bigger than my limited perspective and his vision is for us to move outside of ourselves and our personal preferences for the sake of his kingdom.” ‑Dave T.

Photo of Cindy Russo“When I first came to Second City I wasn't looking to join another church. I quickly realized that Second City Church is not like any other church I've ever been involved in. Second City Church is a place where everyone is welcomed and embraced in the name of Jesus. Second City is my church home and I am so thankful the Lord led me to Second City.” ‑Cindy R.

“I love what diversity we have. We have plenty of room to grow in this area, but I’m grateful we aren’t all rich or all poor or all highly educated or all Democrats or all Republicans or all white or all young or all extroverts, etc. I love that we can have different backgrounds and different current life experiences and still be able to share our lives together.” ‑Dawn P.

Special Memories and Other Things People Love

“Our spiritual growth has, in the midst of real conflict and heartbreak, just exploded at Second City. My understanding of the Word of God increased probably because of the difficulties we had to face. Secondly, my prayer life took a radical turn. Instead of being a spare tire, it became the steering wheel for my life (still needs LOTS of work).” -Gordon Z.

“A young man got up after the passing of the peace and told the congregation that he would be leaving Harrisburg to accept employment in another city and that he wanted everyone to know how much being a part of the church meant to him.” ‑K.P.

Photo of Wes V.“We had fun memories of having the entire church over to our house after we had just gotten a new grill and we had a BIG party. . . We also have fond memories of camping together at Raystown Lake and Otter Creek, and just doing all sorts of events in community. And of course the memories of setting up church in the movie theater with floodlights and the sound system.” ‑Wes V.

“A memory of the church that stands out to me is the Passover dinner that we do on Maundy Thursday each year. We sit down and go through the meaning of the meal, sing worship songs and enjoy each other’s company. It’s something that I always look forward to as a meaningful time of fellowship, worship, good food and it helps prepare me to celebrate the significance of Easter.” ‑Jim S.

“One part of the worship service that I deeply love and always look forward to is watching others walk down the aisle to partake of communion, then, making eye contact with them, as they walk past me to return to their seat, and sometimes exchanging a handclasp or hug to let them know I love them. This reminds me of how grateful I am to have these folks as my brothers and sisters in Christ.” ‑Kacy C.

“Pig roasts at Shaffer retreat.  Camping out together.  Good food and drink together. Our Maundy Thursday meals when we worship and eat together.” ‑Bruce W.

“My kids consistently say that Easter is more fun than Christmas. They LOVE holy week, and I love it too. Our Maundy Thursday services, toasting the resurrection with champagne, and then gathering with other families (many who no longer worship at Second City) for feasting and fun is the highlight of our year. Holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving have so many extended family expectations and stress and spending that to just celebrate that Jesus is alive without extra drama is a gift. We also very much enjoy the campouts. Any time we can gather without an agenda and enjoy food in an open space is a good thing.” ‑Dawn P.

"I’m grateful to be part of the leadership.  It’s a joy for me.” ‑Bruce W.

“Certainly Holy Week, and specifically Maundy Thursday service have been very memorable. Also being part of the Vacation Bible School services in the evenings, although it was a smaller contingent, it really felt like we were partnering with other people from the church as we were ministering to kids from the neighborhood and our congregation. I really enjoyed that. And going to Nick’s Cafe on Third in the early days of City’s Gate to hear our worship team playing at an open mic was a cool memory.” ‑Dave T.