Paul Harner recognized for church work

At the January meeting of the Emmitsburg Council of Churches, Paul Harner was honored on the occasion of his retirement as Council president. He was presented with a watercolor painting done by Linda Postelle of his childhood home on East Main Street, next to the town office. Paul lived there until he was 16 years old, then moved to Pennsylvania where he graduated from Gettysburg High School.

He received his aeronautical engineering degree from the University of Maryland, his Masters of Science degree in Administration from George Washington University, and then attended the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.

After working for private aircraft industries for seven years, he was employed by the Department of Navy in its Naval Air System. He worked there for 28 years and retired in 1991. At that time he came home to his roots, and his vacation cabin near Fairfield became his and Lilís full-time residence. His service as a member of the Elias Lutheran Churchís Council brought him to the meetings of the Emmitsburg Council of Churches, and in 1992 he became the Councilís president, where he has served for the past ten years.

During Paulís presidency the Council was kept very active. It sponsored a refugee family from Bosnia; and it held an Emmitsburg Childrenís Day with the help of other local businesses and organizations. CROP WALK became an annual project of the Council, raising large sums of money for our local food bank and to alleviate worldwide hunger. A Christmas Candlelight Tour was enjoyed by many local citizens as well as out-of-town visitors. A "Welcome to Emmitsburg" booklet was published in 1995.

While Paul was president, the Council applied for and received its tax-exempt status. During his term the Council continued to provide financial assistance to those in need from the Emmitsburg area or its churches; it also held community ecumenical services during Lent, for Easter Sunrise, Thanksgiving Day, and Baccalaureate for the graduating class at Catoctin High School. The Council sponsors Vacation Bible School for the children of the Emmitsburg Community every summer, staffs the SHARE program, and arranges for monthly religious services at St. Catherineís Nursing Home.

Paul was also honored with a lovely plaque from President George W. Bush recognizing his service as president of the Emmitsburg Council of Churches. This is the second President Bush from whom Paul has received an award. In 1991, three weeks before his retirement, Paul went to the White House, was received by President George Bush personally, and presented with the "rank" of Distinguished Executive in the Senior Executive Service (along with a check).

On the plaque Paul received at the January meeting, President George W. Bush wrote: "One of our most important responsibilities as citizens is our duty to give something back to our communities and to make them better places for everyone to live. By volunteering your time and your talents, you demonstrate the true character of the American people."

President Bush might have known Paul Harner personally to make such an accurate statement about him and his service to the Emmitsburg community. Paul continues to serve as a member on the Council as a delegate from Elias Lutheran Church. Many thanks, Paul.