Effort United Methodist Church holds mortgage burning ceremony
ADELE R. ARGOT/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Pastor Robin Fisher burns the symbolical papers of the church mortgage having been satisfied. It was a time of celebration.
To everything there is a season ... And for Effort United Methodist Church it was the words, "Paid. Satisfied. Paid." stamped with the date June 15, 2012 that caused a time of celebration.
It was time to burn the mortgage, which had its inherent "bumps in the road," until it was indeed satisfied.
The celebration included meaningful Scripture, special music, former pastors sharing their messages and memories, church members doing the same, and an overall time of joy in a service led by current pastor, the Rev. Robin Fisher.
"To God be the Glory," the opening song, with accompaniment by Dan Smale, Susan Yetter and Steve Johnson, was received by appreciative applause.
A Men's Quartet, composed of Johnson, Mike Moretz, Smale and Effort UMC former pastor, the Rev. Dave Felker, sang "One Faith, One Hope, One Lord," to even more applause of appreciation.
Pastor Fisher introduced Effort UMC member Bob Decker who headed the "Generous and Grateful Hearts" ministry when the church, which he called a "'Humble Abode' for Christian Growth and Service to God's People" hit a major monetary bump in recent history. He detailed why he accepted the ministry challenge and what ensued.
For six months most of the ministries spoke at services about how their ministry changed their lives and how it served others and most importantly, how it brought both those serving and those being served "closer to God."
"In doing so, it made the actual pledge/donation campaign come across more as, 'this Church is dong many good things for many people and for that we are thankful and we will be generous.' With heartfelt thanks to all who contributed in both prayers and finance, tonight we're able to burn the mortgage note and celebrate that this humble Christian abode is paid for. It does not belong to us, it belongs to Christ, and may by his Grace we continue to responsibly be entrusted in its care."
A roster of building committee members and a video/photo remembrance that included the faces of many who have served Effort UMC faithfully in years past was shown. Among them were the late Pastor Gerald and Mrs. Evelyn Miller; the late Rev. Jack and Mrs. Ruth Rule; Dennis and Ethel King and many more.
The Rev. Edward Kimes, now pastor of East Stroudsburg UMC, recalled his time at Effort and the building process, including meetings of the building committee in the old Kinsley Store's community meeting room; of Dennis King's advice, "build a basement;" of a retreat on-site at Effort UMC; of Paul DeBarry's advice to "flip the sanctuary," and of including a preschool to "pay it forward."
The church is not an end, he reminded all. It is a tool.
Pastor Felker recalled his years of ministry at Effort UMC, remembering the Worship Design Team, the start of the food pantry ministry, the Confirmation Class trips, and the wonderful sanctuary in which the current celebration was being held.
Pastor Deb Hoffman, former associate pastor at Effort UMC, used her musical talent of guitar and voice to tell yet another story and inspire the congregation. Will Weimer had done so at the worship ceremony's opening as well as reading Scripture from 1 Samuel 17 during the service.
Effort member and retired local Pastor Bob Argot read from Ephesians 2:13-22.
That was followed by the hymn "The Church's One Foundation," with Karen Catina, in addition to Smale and Johnson at the keyboards.
Effort's own Ken Edwards, Christ Servant Minister, delivered the message, basing it on his watching a leaf falling into a stream while he waited for God to lead him in preparation for this day.
As the leaf trusted the water to take it on its journey so we "should trust in the Lord's Living Waters" he said.
Edwards spoke of David and Goliath, and of David's trust, going into battle with confidence and God's armor. Finance was the church's Goliath, he said, and so it was time to seek council of the Lord.
And the Goliath was overcome and the church had time to celebrate.
"We dedicate this house to God and to service," said Pastor Fisher as she led the burning of the mortgage, having received the papers marked "Paid. Satisfied. Paid," from trustee representative Jim Flechsig.
As the papers burned, the flames were a reminder of the warmth of worship and ministry yet to come: to everything there is a season.