New name, fresh start for longtime local church
Wednesday, 30 October 2013 10:50

Synergy Church embraces change with new name

by Nicole Rodman

    A longstanding local church is getting a fresh start with a new name and a new look.
    Though it remains the same church, with the same pastor, the church formerly known as Dundalk Assembly of God has been renamed Synergy Community Church.
    Dundalk Assembly of God was founded in 1946 by the Rev. Arvel Barrett at its original location on Riverside Avenue.
    The next year, the church relocated to Cleveland Avenue. The land was donated to the church by the Bethlehem Steel Corporation.
    In 1969, under pastor Rev. D.R. Hollingshead, the church moved to its current location at 7400 German Hill Road.
    When the land was purchased, a renovated barn occupied the property. The church held services in the barn until a new church was completed in October 1978.
    Hollingshead remained pastor until 1988.
    Today, his daughter, Elaine Crunkilton, carries on her father’s work as lead pastor of the church.
    Crunkilton moved to Dundalk at age 2 when her father took over as pastor of Dundalk Assembly of God.
    Raised in the community, she graduated from Dundalk High School.
    She graduated from World Evangelism Fellowship in Baton Rouge, La., and became an associate pastor under her father.
    In 2009, she became lead pastor of the church, a rare role for a woman in an Assemblies of God church.
    It was under Crunkilton that the church changed its name to Synergy Community Church last year.
    “The name change was like a new chapter for us,” Crunkilton explained during an interview with The Eagle.
    Explaining the decision to move away from the word “Dundalk” in the new name, Crunkilton noted, “We love our community, but we wanted to have an identity that is about us and sets us apart.”
    While it no longer bears the “Assembly of God” title, the church remains part of the Assemblies of God fellowship.
    Assemblies of God make up the largest Pentacostal denomination, with 65 million members across the globe.
    The process of changing the name from Dundalk Assembly of God to Synergy Community Church began when Crunkilton presented a list of possible names to the church’s board. Eventually, the name Synergy was chosen.   
    According to Crunkilton, the term “Synergy” was selected because it means “a group of people coming together for one purpose.”
    “For us, that purpose is to tell people about Jesus,” she explained.
    In addition to the name change, the church has been undergoing renovations designed to add greater functionality to the building.
    A coffee bar was added, as was a new playground for the church’s young children.
    Many of the classrooms were redone as well.
    In the next few months, the church’s sanctuary will be remodeled, with pews replaced by moveable chairs.
    With no fellowship hall in the church, Crunkilton hopes to be able to convert the sanctuary to a hall for special events.
    These changes mark the first major renovations done to the church since 1978.
    Though it is undergoing major changes, Synergy is largely the same church that it has always been.
    For Crunkilton, what has continued to make Dundalk Assembly of God/Synergy Community Church special is the warmth and welcoming of the congregation.
    “It’s a very relational church,” she explained, adding, “I believe in relationships.”
    Whether Synergy or Dundalk Assembly of God, Crunkilton makes it her mission to get to know each and every member of the congregation.
    “If I had 1,000 people at my church ... I would still want to stand at the door and hug them,” she said.
    Crunkilton is heavily involved in all aspects of  church life. In addition to conducting Sunday services, she leads the church’s Wednesday evening Bible study as well as the Aftershock youth program for children ages 12 to 18.
    Along with these ministries, Synergy also has a food pantry and a women’s fellowship group.
    The church is also working to reach out to the Dundalk community.
    Last Sunday, Oct. 27, the church held its first annual Fall Festival. The event, which was open to the entire community, included free food and children’s activities.
    In addition, each April, Synergy hosts a car show.
    Synergy Community Church worships each Sunday at 10:45 a.m. All are welcome to attend.