Young Penn Hills-based church initiates '30 Days of Hope' project
Harry Hoff knows the power that hope can bring to a troubled life.
The 36-year-old Penn Hills native is a former heroin addict who not long ago was serving a prison sentence after a 2007 arrest.
Hoff had undergone seminary training through Global University's Berean School of the Bible while serving time at the Graterford Penitentiary outside Philadelphia, and while he admitted at first, it just seemed like a way to pass the time, he began to see its potential.
“I looked around me and all I saw was pain,” Hoff said. “When I got out, my wife and I spent some time with a woman who was de-toxing (from drug use), and I really just felt God speak to me.”
The Hoffs “spent every penny we had” on sound equipment and Bibles, and now Hoff is the pastor for Hope Rising Community Church, which meets Sunday mornings at the Penn Hebron Garden Club on Jefferson Road.
“What it's become is that I really want to offer people a safe place to rebuild their lives,” Hoff said.
Services are held at 10 a.m., and Hoff said the congregation has 50 to 60 regular members.
Nina Helsel, 59, of Penn Hills is a member and knew Hoff when he was struggling.
“I knew there was a lot of good in him that needed to come out,” Helsel said. “But never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd be going to a church where he was pastoring. And now, you couldn't stop me from going.”
Christian Harris, 17, was brought to Hope Rising by a friend.
“They just naturally make you feel accepted and make you feel like you've been going there since you were 3 years old,” Harris said. “We're an outreach church. Anybody can come. Doesn't matter what you've done, who you are; you can come.”
Hoff is looking to bring that philosophy of caring to the community through the church's “30 Days of Hope” campaign, which will run throughout July.
“Impacting people one at a time is what we're about,” he said. “We have suggestions for the whole month, whether it's spending time with an elderly person, meeting with homeless people, giving a child heading down the wrong path a chance to feel included and loved.”
Hoff challenged his congregation to perform one act every day that gives someone else hope.
That idea held a lot of appeal for Kait Kallquist, 24, of Penn Hills,who is a Hope Rising member.
“I was looking for a church willing to ‘get dirty' and go places not all people are willing to go,” Kallquist said. “This is a church that is willing to utilize what they had and truly be the ‘hands and feet' of Christ, which is something that's very hard to find.”
Hoff said finding an opportunity to provide hope is not difficult.
“You don't have to look too far to find someone struggling,” he said. The pastor himself is a perfect example.
“I was arrested here (in Penn Hills); I had a bad rap in this area,” he said. “I'll never forget what one of the detectives said to me: ‘You don't have to live like this.' That hope pushed me, and let me know that there is a better tomorrow if I put in the work and want to change.”
Congregation members who participate in the “30 Days of Hope” project will have a stack of cards to hand out with the church's name and a simple message: “We just wanted to spread some hope and remind you that you are loved.”
Harris is excited to spread the message.
“Every single one of us will be involved in one way or another,” he said. “I can't wait.”
To learn more about Hope Rising Community Church, call 412-731-1524 or visit Hoperisingcc.com.
Patrick Varine is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7845 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.