Thankfully, most churches are not dependent on profitability margins for survival, as we’ve recently seen with many of today’s small town newspapers. Houses of worship answer to a higher power! However, the pandemic served as a wake-up call for many houses of worship. There is no mistaking that churches too must find ways to adapt to the changes the pandemic wrought. Churches must be mindful that membership and active participation in many Christian faiths was on the decline long before COVID. The pandemic only increased churches’ struggles with membership and budgeting. For many, a reevaluation of past traditional practices for attracting and retaining members and how our facilities are used is necessary. Churches must change focus from longstanding worship formats towards transformative ideas, based on how worship is being viewed by current and future generations, in order to encourage participation. Technology and modern media will play a part in that transformation, as they are found in every aspect of life today.
LifeWay Research conducted a study in November of 2021, “Exploring the Pandemic Impact on Congregations.” One surprising “upside” to the pandemic was that it encouraged many houses of worship to embrace developing technologies in order to reach their members during mandated lockdowns. Many of us, some for the first time, learned how to Zoom and use social media to attend online church services. This gave churches the ability to reach a larger audience, particularly members who may have already been physically unable to attend services or members who are not year round residents. It also opened up the services to people who may have never attended a certain church in-person before. Now, newcomers have a way to “sample”different churches without any pressure. Other options using media include: weekly phone or video sermons, daily or weekly recordings that include a scripture or devotional, movie clips and special music videos, in lieu of choirs. Many churches have chosen to retain an online version of their services for those reasons. In early 2020, FPC was fortunate to have several members in our midst who are extremely proficient in the technology area. Thus, FPC’s Digital Church Committee was born, beginning with YouTube and then live-streaming of Sunday services. They have improved our equipment for live-streaming and revamped our website, www.pypc.org and our Facebook page. This also provides better avenues to allow FPC to “spread the word” about events, activities and accomplishments of members. That ability will become even more important now without a local news source. That committee has continued to develop social media for the benefit of FPC.
Finances have also become a serious consideration for church buildings in which we worship, so many are old, large and costly to maintain. Yet, these gathering places do matter. People are social beings and we like to “congregate.” Sacred architecture has been shown to create feelings of “metaphorical warmth and collective effervescence,” according to famed sociologist, Emile Durkheim. Human interaction also allows people to experience the element of touch which gives us a sense of wellbeing and security. The study finds that, “online worship, no matter how well it’s done, can’t affect us as deeply as in-person church attendance.” The pandemic certainly showed us that we still need to congregate to thrive and survive. So we must look at better ways to offset operating costs. Possibilities include; decreasing the number of services held weekly or monthly, opening buildings to become shared spaces that can be utilized by other service organizations or even multiple congregations, even and leasing/selling space or underutilized buildings.
As always, the Bible provides us with spiritual guidance. Hebrews 10:24-25, “let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Churches must find the right balance between virtual and in-person gatherings to keep more people engaged. In that way our religious institutions will remain vibrant and viable.
The best chicken barbecue in town is right around the corner! Put away your grill for the day and join us for the drive thru event on Saturday, Sept. 3 at 4:30 p.m. We will be serving chicken, potatoes, coleslaw, beans, rolls and cookies – all for just $12! You can also purchase just the chicken for $6. As always, children under 10 get it for $6. We look forward to seeing you there!
Our last ice cream social for the summer was on Aug. 18. We were blessed to see so many of our friends join us for delicious ice cream and socializing on our lawn and in our gazebo. Vince Bedient was there and we spent some time remembering his good friend, Clarence Smart, who recently died.
Don’t forget to check our Blessing Cupboard for items you may need. It’s filled with canned goods, personal items and paper goods for your use. If you are in need of something that we don’t have you can visit or call the Living Well,121 E. Elm St. in Penn Yan for help, or call 315-5360838.
We were able to help support Habitat for Humanity with funds raised by our Red, White and Blue 5K. Thanks again to all our sponsors, runners and volunteers who helped make this possible.
Coming up in the near future we will be having free community dinners. The first one will be on Oct. 29, so watch for more information on our website (www.branchportumc.org) and on Facebook.
Our Sunday worship is at 10:45 a.m. We would love to see you there!
Milo Center Methodist
What better time than the present? We have all heard this phrase, whether it is to try something we fear, to exercise, to lose weight, to change jobs — or even to look for signs that Jesus is near. Pastor Kim recited the story told by Luke of a woman that had been bound by Satan for 18 long years. Jesus asked, ‘Why shouldn’t she be made free on the Sabbath?’ You can hear in this question… ‘What better time than now?’ For so many of us, we put things off, thinking we will have time. What if we don’t? Only God knows our journey. He is waiting for us to ask Him into our day, notice the sunsets, the color in the flowers, the breeze or the rains He has given us. What better time than the present, what are you waiting for?
Condolences to the Clarence Smart family. Birthday wishes to Norm Koek, Bennett Hallings, Abby Lyons, and Steve Strong. Happiest of anniversaries to Frank & Linda Francisco, and Ryan & Joanne Kennedy. Congratulations to Caiden DeMarco on achieving Dean’s List at Union College. Best of luck to all of our young disciples as they start back to school or college. Thank you, Pastor Kim, Karen Hallings, Jill Henderson, and Erica Little for providing lunch to the Living Well Mission this month. Praise to God for the much-needed rain.
Milo Center Methodist Church’s service is at 9 a.m. Sundays. All are welcome.
Penn Yan First Baptist
In the month of September, our first worship service will be in the Yates County Courtyard as a combined service with First Baptist, St. Mark’s Episcopal, First Presbyterian and United Methodist Churches. Everyone is invited to join us at 10 a.m. Bring your own lawn chair. We will move inside of the Baptist Church if rain threatens.
For the remaining Sundays the pulpit supply will consist of Rev. Don Lawrence on Sept. 11, and Dale Wakley on Sept. 18 and 25. Services begin at 10 a.m. A nursery is provided for little ones. Our Adult Bible Study class will resume on Sept. 18.
Bluff Point Methodist
Pastor Sandi’s message centered around the passage from Jeremiah1: 4-10, read by Trish’s granddaughter Aliyah. Pastor Sandi showed how God had told Moses, Jeremiah, Jonah and others what they needed to do to serve his needs. They initially ignored God’s words, but eventually learned that their way was not the best way. Uproot, tear down, destroy and rebuild. I hear the words and am giving them to you! In essence, you can run, but you can’t hide.
God does not make a mistake. God knew us in the womb. We are the ones that make a mistake when we don’t listen. Pastor Sandi continued, telling us we need to trust. We all have a story, whether we be a teacher, carpenter, farmer, or nurse. People will remember how you show God to others every day, not what you or they had to eat today.
We will be having back to school events and ice cream socials as we wind down summer! What a warm and gorgeous summer it has been, but glad we got recent needed rains. Enjoy the end of summer and come worship with us at 9 a.m. Sundays in our country church, whether you are vacationing or need to find a new place to worship!