New Hope UMC


We liked it so much, we thought we'd try it again. On September 13, the churches got together for a reunion. Kevin introduced us to a new sermon Wilderness series, based on the scriptures from Exodus. This will continue for two more Sundays as will our outdoor services. Following is a summary of our previous experiences:

On May 24, 2020, the New Hope and Branchville churches got together for a service at Branchville. Not in the sanctuary as that was still prohibited by the Conference, but in the vacant lot across from the church. Kevin used his techno skills to provide an FM broadcast in addtion to the speaker setup. The service went well but it was a bit warm, so we decided to go with the 10 o'clock hour for the next week.

On May 31, the weather cooperated again and Kevin had improved his broadcast with a new speaker system. Attendance picked up as well. It is good to get together and we all missed it very much. In addition, it is good for New Hope and Branchville to have this opportunity in these unusual circumstances to meet together. Thanks to all the folks at Branchville who are working hard to put this together for us.

Services continued on June 7 at Branchville. A beautful solo, "Who Am I", was provided by gifted vocalist Gayle McAlhany. Attendance was good again. We might need a parking attendant if this keeps up. Kevin's message reminded us that we worship a God that is all-knowing, all-powerful and ever-present. In addition, we Christians are blessed to have a triune God. A God of the heavens, a savior in Jesus Christ and a Holy Spirit to guide us. Praise the Lord.

We met again in Branchville on June 14, with about 25 cars (and trucks) gathered under the trees. The weather was pleasant again, for our fifth Sunday in the open. Kevin's sermon was "More Than Enough Cups to Go Around" and focused on evangelism as Jesus envisioned it for his disciples and us. Jesus said the harvest is plenty but the workers are few. True in his day and especially true in these times when so many appear helpless and confused. So it seems, just as Jesus chose his disciples one at a time, evangelism is a one on one proposition. So it seems fitting that our Food Bank mission will resume this month after a couple months of being shut down. 

Services continued in Branchville on Father's Day, June 21, under sunny skies, though a bit warm. We will do it again next Sunday and lunch will be served. That is, if you bring your own. Kevin will furnish the beverages and those who wish may bring sandwiches, etc. to enjoy a meal and fellowship together. Kevin's sermon was on Fear. The text was Matthew 10 where Jesus is sending out the Twelve, telling them that there will be trouble ahead but reminding them that if trust in God, they can overcome the fear, even the fear of death. Good words for the troubled times we live in.  

Sunday, June 28, was our largest attendance yet. We enjoyed a light meal afterwards and gathered in small groups to partake of sandwiches, beverages and desserts.  Sunday, July 5 will make the 7th week we have had services on the grounds at Branchville UMC. Shady oaks and a remarkable run of good weather have made this a pleasant and inspiring experience. The time is coming, however, when we will return to our respective centers of worship. Kevin has presented a plan with several options that will be discussed after the service (on the grounds) on July 5.

Our final outdoor service was held at Branchville on July 5. Both churches will resume indoor services on July 12. Kevin will continue to broadcast the service on FM, so those who do not wish to go inside may listen from their vehicles. Our last service together was inspiring and thought provoking. Jesus' words from Matthew encouraging listeners to unburden themselves with anxiety and and "come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden". Right now this might include just about all of us. The world that Jesus entered was one of conflict and strife, similar to ours. "18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.” Matthew 11:18-19. Not only was it the Jews versus the Romans but Jews against each other. Kevin suggested that we are often more concerned about getting our own way  than engaging in productive discussions to solve problems. This is because we don't let Christ guide us. We don't "take his yoke upon us and learn from him". 

As we part company, we wish to thank the members at Branchville who not only provided the means for us to get together but did most of the work. We are truly grateful not only for their efforts and hard work but for the opportunity to make new friends. Hopefully a reunion is in our future.  


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