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Stewardship Sunday, May 21, featured a service led by the church’s leadership. After Rev. Matt Laney shared opening announcements, members offered prayer, scripture and testimonials.

In his reflection on Chronicles 28, in which King David leaves plans for his son Solomon to build a great temple, John Avignone concluded with the following:

“I am keenly aware that the resignation of our senior minister and a time of transition raises uncertainty for many of you about giving and membership, and the future of this church. 

That’s why I’d like to refer to our church from 100 years ago:

During World War I, the women started a Red Cross chapter in the parish house where they made dressings, care bags, and scarves. Per the government’s request for fuel conservation, the sanctuary was closed and services were held in the old chapel – now Drew Hall. Eighty one members enlisted in the service, three of whom did not return home.

After the war ended, the congregation learned that their former assistant pastor, Howard Walter, a beloved minister during his two years of service, died overseas at age 35.

A month later, our church’s first pastor, Dr. Joseph Hopkins Twichell, died at the age of 80.

The next month, the church lost its senior minister, Rev. John Brownlee Voorhees. He had enlisted for ministry in France seven months earlier. Soon after his arrival a wound shattered his leg. After many weeks of hospitalization, he returned to the U.S.  He later developed pneumonia in a New York hospital where he died. 

Through these tumultuous times, I think it’s safe to say that our church family pulled together instead of pulling away. 

Those years were a defining period – and a transforming period – for our church.

Like the great temple King David requested his son Solomon to build, a house of worship is a legacy gift. In building our church – where we praise, share and steward God’s grace – we honor those who have gone before us, and preserve this legacy for generations to come.

All of this is hard work. But as the scripture from Chronicles tells us, ‘Be strong and courageous and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God is with you.’”