Methodist finding new ways to church
By Patsy Nicosia
Slowly, and in different ways, Schoharie County's three "discontinued" Methodist Churches are finding their way forward.
In Hyndsville, members of the congregation have been meeting in each other's homes and the crowd has been growing, said Karla Bates.
"There's more every Sunday," she said.
Pastor David Houck, who was officially ordained in his final service in Dorloo, continues to lead prayers and a short service, and the group has even come up with a name: The Seward Valley Christian Fellowship.
Ms. Bates said they're taking their time before deciding a long-term course, something that would involve a charter, by-laws and more.
"For us, this works now," she said.
That's also the case in Dorloo, where Sue Davis said the congregation has been visiting different churches as a group, feeling them out and taking a breather while they decide what comes next.
"We really miss Dave, though," she said of Pastor Houck.
A couple of Sundays ago the Dorloo group attended services at the Howes Cave Second Reformed Church, where the Mineral Springs congregation has already found a new home in their own 8:30am service.
"It's been wonderful," said Connie Barber. "They've opened their doors and hearts to us. We have an older congregation. They needed a church. And they're pleased with what we've found in Howes Cave."
Ms. Barber said that once she started looking, she had calls from a number of churches willing to share their facilities; the only hard part was juggling service times.
Lay leader Caye Perotti continues to lead the service, Ms. Barber said, and at last count, 14 members of the Mineral Springs congregation are making the trip.
Mineral Springs has probably the oldest membership of the three churches and Ms. Barber said that meant they had some different concerns: Most wanted a church, not a home, to worship in, and most were looking for that church as a place for their own funerals.
"Howes Cave is an old stone church with glass windows, and when I took people for a visit, it was just what they wanted," she said. "They wanted to feel God's presence in the building and they felt like they were home."
When winter weather hits, Ms. Barber said the group will likely start carpooling and if they continue to be viable, they'd like to create their own congregation in Howes Cave with their own name.
If that doesn't happen, if they can't build their own non-denominational congregation, Ms. Barber said she can see what's left of the group joining the Reformed congregation.
"I'm glad we did this," she said. "We all knew we needed someplace to go...I'm pleased that the congregation is happy."