The Rev. Paul Herring, right, as the Rev. Philip Willard

150th anniversary video depicts beginnings of the many roots of Diakon

Middletown, Pennsylvania    Saturday, March 31, 2018

Creating a video is typically an involved task, though occasionally fun.

After all, who doesn't like making “television”?

As you most likely know, we are celebrating our 150th anniversary. That is certainly a milestone that deserves a video!

And so I developed a script and, along with other Office of Communications staff and an external video company, began to coordinate the production of our celebratory, explanatory video.

How to compress 150 years into about five minutes? It wasn't easy, but we figured it out.

Before long, as we began filming, we found ourselves on a hill in Gettysburg—the only place we could easily locate both a horse and carriage and open fields in which to film replications of the founding of the Tressler Orphans Home and the Lutheran Orphans Home at Topton—surrounded by goats and horses intent on determining what the heck we were doing there. 

Later, we filmed briefly within the actual Tressler home, now a youth development center, surrounded by high-security cameras and high fence. 

One of the joys of the work at Gettysburg was meeting the various actors and re-enactors who assisted us in reproducing our foundings. One of those, in fact, was a resident of a Diakon Senior Living Community—Cumberland Crossings in Carlisle, Pennsylvania—the Rev. Paul Herring.

The Rev. Herring (profiled in an eDiakonnect some years ago) portayed the Rev. Philip Willard, a former local pastor who traveled to Loysville, Perry County, in 1867 with the idea of purchasing the Tressler family’s classical-academy-turned-one-of-the-first-soldiers-orphans-homes-in-the-nation and turning it into a church-operated home for children. His visit was successful and a charter was granted for the new institution the following year, 1868—150 years ago this year.

Paul not only resembled Philip Willard in his white beard and long coat, but his video portrayal was endearing and right on the mark! Seeing Paul approach the camera—that is, approach the “town of Loysville”—I felt as if I was transported back in time, to the founding of the Diakon ministry.

While a humble person, Paul got to enjoy a bit of fame when Cumberland Crossings recently held its local anniversary and rededication event. Other residents of the senior living community had a chance to view the video, commend Paul for his work, and even see “the Rev. Philip Willard” in person—as Paul dressed in his video outfit for the event!

The Rev. Paul Herring with Mark Pile, Diakon president/CEO, at the Cumberland Crossings event celebrating Diakon’s 150th anniversary.

Oh yes, while we are “premiering” the video at each new anniversary event, we are providing here, out of respect to the wonderful work done by the Rev. Herring and the other actors, a link to the video, not yet hosted publicly:

Diakon 150th anniversary video

We hope you enjoy it! 

—William Swanger
SVP, Diakon Corporate Communications

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