Monday, November 24, 2008

Profile of a Haunted Church

St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Erie Pennsylvania was formed in the mid 1800’s.

When it was founded, it was a local neighborhood church welcoming German Immigrants with familiar old country worship. Today though it stands in the middle of inner city Erie where the neighborhood has more businesses than homes. Its once dominant steeple is now almost blocked out by the taller buildings that have been built around it since its stones were laid. Since the mid 19th Century a multitude have been born, baptized and buried under the church’s auspices. Over the centuries thousands of people have worshiped there and called this their spiritual home.

It seems that perhaps although some members have left the mortal coil of life, they have never really left the church.

I started attending the church earlier this year in an attempt to perhaps once again serve in a Denominational Church somewhere in the future. I felt immediately at home. The congregation although small is a warm and welcoming group of diverse individuals who look at a person’s heart with compassion and care. They are at once both open minded and doctrinally conservative. It is a rare mix that is truly a blessing.

After attending a few services I noticed that I had an old coworker Craig who was on the church board, we worked together at Med Stat ambulance years ago and after the strange happenings there we both had shared our similar views on the paranormal. I knew God had led me to the right church.

After catching up on old times and old friends Craig told me something very interesting, he would love to have a paranormal group to investigate our church because over the years many people have heard and experienced some unexplainable things. In fact his sister was the church secretary and had spent many an hour alone in the building and has had first hand experiences on many occasions.

Craig’s sister Cheryl Pierce started working at the church in 2001. It did not take long for her to begin having odd experiences. Over the years she thinks she has identified two different entities that haunt the church.

One is that of a little girl. Often Cheryl will hear the giggles of a little girl when she is alone in the church. And the giggles sounded very familiar.

Katie was an 11 year old girl who loved to help in the nursery. In fact she absolutely adored Cheryl’s son Ben when he was a toddler. She would always pay him special attention and hold him. Was very active in the church and its choir and was an ever present source of light and kindness. In 1994 she was coming back from church camp with the pastor and she had forgotten to wear her seat belt. The pastor accidentally dropped something and the van veered off the road and into a tree. Katie was killed instantly.

The disembodied giggles that Cheryl hears throughout the church is in Katie’s voice.

And they still think she is watching over Ben. One night while in the church office, Ben felt a tap on his shoulder.

There was no one there.

Katie is not the only spirit that likes to hang around the church. There is the spirit of an elderly woman also.

Ruth was a pillar of the church. Whenever it was open, she was there, helping out in some way. She too worked in the nursery and absolutely adored children. She always wore high heels and had a distinct perfume that was very pungent. You would always know when Ruth was coming down the hall; her high heels would clack down the hallway from one room to another as she assisted in the nursery and the Sunday School rooms.

Ruth’s footsteps can still be heard walking down the hallways of St. Paul’s Church to this day. You hear the footsteps coming and going, and doors opening and closing on their own violation. And every once in a while you will get a whiff of that strong and unique perfume that she wore all those years ago. No one wears it anymore.

I was very intrigued with the whole prospect of the church being haunted and happened to have lunch one afternoon with local paranormal author Stephanie Wincik. She had just written a new book on local paranormal teams called "Reaching Through the Veil: Ghost Hunting in Erie County"

She was still in daily contact with the groups she profiled and asked one of them if they cared to investigate. Erie County Paranormal set an appointment for November 1st of this year.

All Saints Day.

Some of the old saints showed up.

Just after 10:00 at night a flurry of activity happened. They caught it all an tape here:

It's a little hard to see some of the action, but watching the tapes firsthand were very astonishing. Camera 1 shows a shadow creature flying across the chapel door. Camera 2 shows a shadow figure of a woman come into the room, stand for about 28 seconds then it turns around and leaves. Camera 3 shows an orb fly from the ceiling. All within a few minutes of each other. I enhanced the video a bit:

Camera 1: Shadow being crosses the door

Camera 2: Shadow being of what looks to be an old woman enters room and turns to leave.

They also found many EVPs such as a little girl saying "It's ok to die", high heeled footsteps from nowhere, and doors opening and closing. They also had an intelligent response when they asked for one.

You can find their evidence here:

I found it quite fascinating, they plan on coming back to do further investigating.

But they were not the only ones to catch high strangeness in the church building. The week following the investigation there were pictures taken during the service for our upcoming Church Directory. One was taken during the Pastor's children's message that was quite startling. Here it is:

There are various orbs in the photo. One over the Pastor's head, one on the boy's shoulder next to the altar and finally the large one hovering at eye level with a smiling face. Its as if another child was attending the service. Perhaps it was Katie?

If it is a spot of dust, it has an awfully great sense of humor.

The strange happenings still occur at St. Paul's United Church of Christ in Erie. While God's Spirit is being poured out on his people, the spirits of some of His people still linger in the place they loved to call their second home.

Until Next Time,

Pastor Swope
Vote for me to be a take part in the new paranormal show from the Discovery Network, click the link below and vote! You can vote every day!


Les said...

I don't see anything clear in the second video.

How do you know that these aren't demonic entities that are deceiving you about the afterlife? Why would a little girl's spirit stay around a church when she could be home with Christ?

Barry said...

I wish I could say I really saw something in those videos.

But I didn't. I watches several times.

But I all I saw was a lot of diffuse static.

Pastor Swope said...

Thanks for the Comment Barry,

Like I said, it is hard to see. The dark shadow in the chapel is pretty evident even in this diffused copy.

Perhaps you can see it better on the Youtube site.

Seeing the original was very startling and perhaps I my viewpoint is skewed after viewing the originals. The static is constant, but the black spot is obvious if you wait for it. That is why I put the comments in the video, in order to alert you to the shadow as apart from the static.

The shadow in the office is VERY hard to see. It's funny, in still pictures you can see the outline very clearly but in motion it is very hard to make out.

Perhaps if you looked at them on the ECP site it might also help.

Let me know,


Pastor Swope said...

Thanks for the comment Les,

We felt no ill will or demonic activity in the church. The only Spirit we are sure of 100% is the Holy Spirit because of the love and the promise He has bestowed.

Not all things are black and white, even in Holy Scripture. You have to look at intent and purpose for all beings. Then you can tell the true darkness from the light.

I however like grey. It is non assuming, yet powerful in its revelation.

Like Mithrandir.

cryptidsrus said...

It took me a while to "see" the entity on the second video but I did (eventually). The first video showed its secrets pretty clearly, I thought. Thanks for this, Swope. I especially liked the little girl story.

Anonymous said...

I'm not convinced re orbs and their supernatural significance however I took many photographs of my daughter's christening in a big old church here in Australia and was astounded by the amount of huge orbs present. Many more than in the usual photos i take.