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More than a milestone

100+1 and counting

This weekend our church celebrates 100 + 1 years of service to the community. When we began to plan for the event, we had all sorts of ideas. There were people who were coming from afar to help us celebrate. COVID had another idea. We were not even allowed to gather. All of our plans were put on hold.

First, we moved the celebration back. Then, it became apparent that that was not going to be possible either. It was moved to 2021. No matter what – we are celebrating this weekend. Whoever can come will come. It will probably not be as grand as the original plans, but for those of us in attendance it will be special.

I personally do not have the history with the church that others have, but my membership dates back about fifty years. I first came to the church after being invited by my neighbor, Ida Grace. She knew that I was looking for a church closer to home. My children were growing, and I wanted them to have a church home where they would have friends and be able to join in youth activities.

My children were not thrilled about going to another church one Sunday, but they went. After the service they said, “Mm, we know all of the kids! Can we stay for Sunday school?” That said it all. That was to be our church home.

As children, they attended Sunday school. Then, it was time to have a youth group. I spearheaded that and found another lady to help. Neither of our children cared that we were at every meeting. They were just happy to be out with friends. We met twice a month at different people’s homes. One meeting was for the children to have fun and learn, the other was for others doing charitable events. Actually, all of the parents were supportive. They all volunteered to provide refreshments and host the group.

We went church night skating. We participated in church night swims at the Frewsburg pool. The youth chose to attend those events in spite of there being dances at school.

Since there were so many youths, at the time we also organized a youth choir. We always had the support of the congregation. One lady even donated money for me to purchase hymnals for the youth.

I was fortunate that many of the children could read music so that helped. The children found out that they really enjoyed singing. We often took our show on the road to other churches, retirement homes, and even to the Grange. What a wonderful bunch of young people we had at that time.

Our swan-song was doing a musical with our sister church. The adults came forward to help. The youth provided their expertise. I knew we could do it, because of the youth. They appeared for practice each Sunday afternoon. The performance went off just two days before Christmas at the sister church. Although I usually sang along with the alto section to keep them on track the night of the performance, I had laryngitis. All I could do was mouth the words.

The Lord was with us. The performance went on without a hitch. We had so many participants in the choir that we had to bring in stools for some of the boys to sit on. We performed for a full church. What a joy it was to see the pews filled. I hope to tell you, I breathed a sigh of relief when it was finished.

Sad to say, our church does not have a strong group of youth at this time. I think it is partly due to what is taking place in many churches. For some reason parents do not see the need to educate their children about God and get them to Sundy school. Churches are all taking a hit at this point.

COVID shut church doors. That never should have happened. When the world is in turmoil, that is what people need the most. They need their church family and the strength it provides. Faith is everything that holds a community together.

This little church has always had a pancake supper each spring. It was even featured in a national magazine and I got calls from Florida and California from former residents. People come from near and far to enjoy the camaraderie. It is a social event. We have run it by donation only and it has always worked. Last year that was not the possible. We were back on target this year — although a little later than usual.

Now we have an ice cream social during the summer. For a small church we have always had a healthy outreach program. For the last two years we have had a clothing giveaway to help out those in need. It never ceases to amaze me how much we get done.

My wish for the future of this church is to see it as strong as it once was. Oh, I know that sounds like an impossibility, but miracles still happen!

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pa. Contact at hickoryheights1@verizon.net.

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