Over One Hundred Years of Ministry

Messiah Lifeways traces its origins to the thoughts and concerns of two women meeting in Hummelstown, PA, who not only talked about starting a home for old people and orphan children, but took action to make it happen.

The issue came before a special meeting of the District Council of the Brethren in Christ Church in April of 1895, and two resolutions were passed. The first stated that the Council favored the establishment of a “home for the aged, the afflicted, and the poor, including all ages….” The second suggested that the home be located in or near Harrisburg. However, when church support of the project failed to materialize, it fell to a small group of individuals to carry the idea forward.

Within a year, on March 1, 1896, the group dedicated and opened the first Messiah Rescue and Benevolent Home in one-half of an existing building at 1175 Bailey Street in Harrisburg. Meager donations, and gifts of goods and furniture, supported the new ministry. By May 1897, the group had purchased the Bailey Street property. Later in the year, the building was razed to allow construction of
a new, three-story frame structure that included a chapel seating 300. In May 1899, the Brethren in Christ Church was asked, and formally accepted, ownership of the home.

The Orphanage
In 1901, through specially donated funds, a separate brick building was constructed on
the Bailey Street property, specifically as an orphanage. By 1914, the orphanage moved
to a 16-acre property near Grantham, PA, and ultimately to a site in Lancaster County
(the current location of Mount Joy Country Homes).


The Home
During the early years of the century, the population of the home grew steadily. By 1932, those housed and cared for were no longer referred to as “inmates,” but as “guests.” And for the first time, Brethren in Christ applicants received preference in admission, since most of the home’s support came from the Brethren in Christ Church.

To accommodate the Home’s growth, a new, larger, brick facility was planned and built at the intersection of Paxton and 20th Streets in Harrisburg. On July 13, 1935, the Home’s oldest resident, 99-year-old Elizabeth King, broke ground for the new home. With some help, she turned three shovels of dirt, looked up, smiled, and said “Das ist genug” (that is enough). The event marked the beginning of the home’s Paxton Street history, where it remained for the next 42 years.

By the 1960s, the Paxton Street facility, which could accommodate approximately 120 residents, had become crowded. The fact that the building was unsuited for nursing care, and considering the high cost of renovations required for new fire and building codes, made remodeling the site out of the question. Also, new concepts in care were emerging that led to plans for independent living cottages and expanded recreational programs and activities. For a while, a site in Carlisle was considered. But after a long and tedious process that included the consideration of a number of potential sites, the Board chose to build the new facility on a farm south of Mechanicsburg along U.S. Route 15. Ground for the new facility was broken in October 1976. It opened in 1978 under the new name of Messiah Village, and now, Messiah Village has grown into Messiah Lifeways, a community that celebrates those 62 and better who seek an enriched lifestyle, full of purpose and zest.

Messiah Lifeways Today
Messiah Lifeways offers a wide variety of services – life coaching, enrichment opportunities, community support services, and resident communities. Across the region, we offer the opportunity for everyone 55 and better to walk with us and explore the possibilities of living Life. Embraced.

For more information about Messiah Lifeways, please call 717.697.4666 or email at life@messiahlifeways.org.