CHURCHES IN THE NEWSSt. Peter's Episcopal Church in Clearfield has had its share of trying times.

"Petty feuds and hurt feelings at times have split the congregation," states an essay on the church's history. "Jealousy and suspicion have prevented true Christian unity. Tragic misunderstandings have arisen."

But if recent events are any indication, the 1990s have ushered in a period of peace, rebirth and renewed Christian vigor for the church, located on a quiet, five-acre plot at 1204 E. 1450 South.

Much of the new optimism can be observed in the works of those who recently helped build and install new pews in the rustic chapel.

Made of fir and pine and finished in the woods' natural colors, the new pews replace the old dark-hued seats, increasing the brightness of the chapel, which is already cheerfully illuminated by more than a dozen stained-glass windows.

"(The project) shows we have a very caring community here," said Dorothy Goins, church treasurer. "They are willing to share their skills as well as finances."

Sharing finances is not an easy task for the church membership, which totals only about 280, is largely transient because of Hill Air Force Base and lacks the affluence of big-city congregations.

In fact, two years were needed to raise the $2,300 for the pew project.

Led by Jim Gabourie, Gene Wilson and Ken Stewart, the "pew crew," as it affectionately came to be known, consisted of Tom Wilson, Bob Shafer, Florence Wilson, Judy Gabourie, Andy Kancitis, Malcolm Jones, Jim McReynolds, Bob Wehus, Allen Gabourie, Shawn Wehus and Warren Goins, who, though he was confined to a wheelchair, helped make wooden hinges and legs for the cushioned prayer kneelers.

Working in Wilson's double garage, the crew assembled all of the wood, hardware and naugahyde necessary to construct 23 pews, each of which seats 11 people comfortably.

Simple but useful in design, the movable pews were patterned after those in St. Andrew's Church in Nogales, Ariz., said Jim Gabourie. Gene Wilson and his wife, Florence, took photos and measurements of the pews while vacationing in Nogales a few years ago, Gabourie said.

Had the congregation purchased the pews from a factory, they would have cost $11,500.

"We saved about $400 a pew by building them ourselves," said Gabourie.

In addition to the financial benefit, the congregation reaped a new sense of pride in their church.

"It makes you feel good to see your project sitting there," Gabourie said. "The pews turned out real nice. It was a good community project."

Though St. Peter's Church has had its challenges - and even once faced the threat of closure - its members have never lacked a willingness to serve.

Formed in 1958 as a mission to the Church of the Good Shepherd in Ogden, the church celebrated groundbreaking for its new chapel in 1963.

During the next two years, men and older boys from the parish hauled rocks for the building's exterior from Ogden; parishioners volunteered to finish the interior and donated appliances, tables and dishes. Members also built the baptismal font and the framework for the bell, which was obtained from Union Pacific Railroad.

Since its dedication on Jan. 17, 1965, the church has had five vicars, the most recent of whom was the Rev. Ed Howlett, who retired last year. Rev. John Filler is acting as interim vicar until a replacement is found.

Whoever it is, the new vicar will find that the church - and the adjacent School of St. Peter, which serves 118 preschool and elementary students - are is in good spiritual health.