CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR FIVE CONFIRMANDS! AND WELCOME!
We’re so proud of their hard work this past school year, their dedication, and their faithful and loving hearts. Please join in congratulating them when you encounter them next!
Grace Lowmiller, Creed Newton, Myah Paulson, Genevieve Stephan, and Spencer Stephan!
We send out thank you’s to their sponsors and peer mentors – we appreciate the commitment that you all made to guide and love our Confirmands!
David & Gail Stephan, Douglas Macmillan, Dan Newman, Samantha Skutnik, Rebecca Magda, Kelly Jo Brown, and Elise Newton!
WOOHOO! You guys are awesome!
SPECIAL MUSIC: Now that we are enjoying summer worship outside and the choir is off, we are looking for people/groups who enjoy playing an instrument or singing to do special music to enhance our worship service this summer. If you would like to do special music this summer, please let Susan Shick or the church office know! Thanks!
SPAGHETTI DINNER RECAP: Thank you to everyone who attended, purchased meals and quarts, and all who helped! We delivered 13 meals to our senior members, we served about 50 dine-in meals and 27 take-out meals and sold many quarts. This mission was not only a fundraiser, but a time for people to interact with each other and people in the community. We were able to use the left-over spaghetti to feed about 40 low-income people in the Nehemiah Mission neighborhood for their Bread on Bridge meal on Tuesday, May 17th. We made almost $1300 to help fund our senior mission project. Thank you Rockport!
SUMMER WORSHIP! Beginning Sunday, May 29th, "Worship in the Woods" begins in our beautiful outdoor chapel at 10am, and will continue all summer through Labor Day weekend, September 4th. In the event of rain or extreme heat, we will move indoors to our air-conditioned sanctuary. EMS will continue at 8:30am. Hope to see you there!
MEN’S GROUP: The Rockport Men’s Group will meet on Thursday, June 16th at 6:30 pm for a potluck cookout. There will be a great meal and time for fellowship. Come and enjoy this special time together!
UNAFRAID BIBLE STUDY! (outside on the patio weather permitting!) Join us on Tuesdays May 31, June 7, 14, 28, and July 5, 12 from 7-8:00pm. This study is being led by Dan Newman and Bill Eyman. We know Jesus tells us, “Do not be afraid,” but with everything going on in the world, how is it possible not to be anxious? In this Bible based study based on his book Unafraid, Adam Hamilton explores the worries and fears most of us experience. We will learn to identify fears and discover practical steps for overcoming them…all in the light of Scripture and a faith that promises again and again that we can live with courage and hope. All are welcome and please contact the church if you need transportation. God Bless!
PRAY AND BIKING OPPORTUNITY! THURSDAY JUNE 9 AND THURSDAY JUNE 23 AT 6:30 P.M. Praying and Exercising are two great activities! Please join us to do both! Our prayer focus is the scripture from Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Please see the schedule below and e-mail the church with any questions, we hope to see you then!
- Thursday June 9 at 6:30 p.m.: Read the scripture and pray for peace for Ukraine and thankfulness for God’s blessings and pray-walk via the prayer labyrinth and then bike (either in the neighborhood or the valley).
- Thursday June 23 at 6:30 p.m.: Read the scripture and pray for those that are suffering from cancer and for those that are mourning and thankfulness for God’s blessings via a pray-walk on the prayer labyrinth and then bike (either in the neighborhood or the valley).
BOOK CLUB: Please join us on Monday, June 6th at 5:30pm in the church parlor for a salad potluck and book discussion. We will be reading the book “Big Lies in a Small Town.” “From New York Times bestselling author Diane Chamberlain comes a novel of chilling intrigue, a decades-old disappearance, and one woman’s quest to find the truth….” “A novel about arts and secrets…grippingly told…pulls readers toward a shocking conclusion.” -People magazine, Best New Books. Hope to see you all on June 6th, before Church Council, for food, fellowship and discussion!
JOIN US FOR GAME NIGHT: Are you looking for something to do on a Saturday night? Look no further. Come and enjoy game night here at Rockport on June 4,18, July 9,23 and Aug. 6,20 at 6pm. A light dinner will be provided as well as childcare. Please sign-up on the bulletin board to attend and/or host and let us know if you will need childcare.
COFFEE HOUR: Please sign-up on the bulletin board to host coffee hour. Fellowship is so important to the life of the church. And of course, it wouldn’t be a Methodist event without food! Nothing fancy, just a few goodies will be needed to host and Rockport will provide the coffee and water.
Office hours are Monday-Thursday 8:00 - 2:00pm and Fridays from 8:00 - 1:00pm.
Rev. Don's office hours are Tuesday and Thursdays from 11:00 - 1:00pm
GOOGLE DRIVE REMINDER
Rockport All Church Information and Financial Reports are accessible here or in the church office. April 30, 2022 financials are NOW available.
COMMUNITY OUTREACH FOR SENIORS: We are seeking volunteers this spring to meet a need identified by Fairview Park Senior Center and confirmed by Nick Berardi and myself to make repairs at two homes. The first house, on 210th street, needs new wooden steps off the back door landing. The existing steps are not safe. The second house, on 220th street, has more extensive needs. The siding on the south end of the house needs repair or replacement. The front porch rail needs replacement. Tree branches need trimming and the gutters need cleaning. Along with the south side, the front of the house needs painting.
Sign-up on the bulletin board or let the church office know of your interest. This is a good opportunity to reflect Christ in our community. Please consider helping. Dave Plachta
ROCKPORT’S 200TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION – SEPTEMBER 18, 2022 Join us to help celebrate Rockport’s 1822 – 2022, 200 years! Please mark your calendar for these THREE dates, Sunday, July 17th, August 14th and September 18th.
On Sunday, July 17th, we will have an outdoor Worship service at Mastick Pavilion at 10:00am followed by a potluck. As history reveals, in 1822 on nice summer days, the congregation would trek down Mastick Hill to enjoy outdoor services along the Rocky River. We thought it would be nice to enjoy worship there as a reminder of where it all began. On Sunday, August 14th right after our 10:00 worship service, the current church across the street, Recovery Church, is treating us to a pancake and waffle breakfast so please mark your calendars to join us as we remember Rockport’s sanctuary from 1857 - 1958. Finally, on Sunday, September 18th, come for a special worship service followed by a catered meal and fellowship with past ministers and prior members. We will honor our church’s history and celebrate our continued mission going forward. Please contact Lisa Kay 440-570-0992 or Diana Leitch 440-759-5980 for questions or to help.
CONFERENCE HIGHLIGHTED STORY:
Fire Destroys a Church’s 142-Year-Old Sanctuary but Not the Spirit or the Mission of the Congregation
MAY 23, 2022EOC NEWS
By Rick Wolcott*
Just before 8:30 a.m. on Friday, May 20, Mary Hughes drove past the parking lot of Grace United Methodist Church on Walnut Street in Coshocton and was stopped by the traffic light at the intersection of S. 4th Street. Sitting in her car waiting for the light to change she was just feet away from the front door of the church’s sanctuary that was built 1880.
“When the light turned green that’s when the lightning hit the church and sparks just flew up there. I didn’t see no flames because I had the green light, so I made the turn and went up two blocks to where I was headed on Chestnut Street,” said Hughes, a 10-year member of Grace UMC and a former member of Coshocton Park UMC. “When I got out of my car the smoke was really coming out of the church roof.”
Coshocton Mayor Mark Mills was with the fire chief when he got the call.
“He said, ‘I’ve got to go there’s smoke coming out of Grace Church’ and he peeled out of the parking lot, and I knew it was serious. When you have a big structure like that, and you see smoke it’s always bad,” Mills shared.
And it was bad. Seven fire departments, and more than 70 firefighters battled the flames shooting through the roof of the sanctuary. Thankfully no one was in the building, and no one was physically injured. But many, many people in and outside of Coshocton are in considerable pain over the damage caused by the fire at Coshocton Grace United Methodist Church (Tuscarawas District).
“Seeing the church on fire I had a flood of memories, a lot of things, for me, happened at that church and in that church,” said Mills, who has been mayor of Coshocton for the past two and a half years. “My parents were married at Coshocton Grace 49 years ago. I was baptized in the church and confirmed there, went to youth group there, and went to Camp Wanake for three years through the church. I was married in the church. Many of the people I have met around the county, because we have two school districts here, I met through the church.”
“Mills and I used to run around here during youth group, so seeing the church on fire was very tough for me and for all the people who were here watching,” said Jason Ross, who is back living in the community that shaped his childhood and who now works for Bailfish Services, the restoration company working on the church building after the fire. “When I was in junior high this church was the most popular church around and the youth group on Wednesday night and Sunday night was amazing. I moved away in high school, but this church always had a special place in my mind.”
Asked what went through her mind when she learned that the church was on fire, Gloria Drobnack, who was married in the church many years ago said, “Oh heavens. I couldn’t believe it!”
District Superintendent the Rev. Kelly Brown, whose office is across the street from the church, said seeing people in pain as they watched the flames shooting out of the roof as firefighters sprayed water through the shattered stained-glass windows was an emotional experience.
“It was emotional to see the building in flames. It was emotional as church members began to come and see what was happening and were overcome, and it was emotional to see the outpouring from the community.”
“It was surreal,” said the Rev. Deborah Quillen, who is in her 23rd year of ministry and has served Coshocton Grace UMC since July 1 of last year. “The phone rang and one of my church members said, ‘Pastor Deb, the church is on fire.’ It was my day off, so I was doing day-off things. I came up to the church and they wouldn’t let me through. I had to park several blocks away. I could see the flames shooting up and my heart sank. All I wanted to do was cry but immediately I was met by church people, so I knew that I had to be strong for them. So, I did what I needed to do and hugged people and comforted people.”
Out of the Ashes Hope Lives
Just over 48 hours after lightning struck the steeple of the church, Quillen stood in front of the congregation and said, “Welcome to Grace United Methodist Church.” She spoke from the front of the Canal Lewisville UMC sanctuary. Those in the pews on Sunday, May 22, were worshipping in a different church building, but those worshipping online connected in the same place as always, www.facebook.com/GraceUMC. Quillen shared that both Pastor Wes George of Canal Lewisville UCM and the Rev. Bob Mitchell, pastor of Roscoe UMC, offered Coshocton Grace UMC the use of their respective sanctuaries for worship. She chose for the Grace congregation to worship at Canal Lewisville to keep Sunday worship time as close as possible to what they were used to.
As Quillen spoke to her congregation in its temporary space, projected on a screen behind her was a photo that, since the fire, had quickly gone viral on social media.
After the flames had been extinguished officials from the state fire marshal’s office and the county’s disaster response team and the church’s Brotherhood Mutual insurance agent went into the church to assess the damage. Shortly after entering the building one of the officials ran outside to bring Quillen into the parlor. There on a table, untouched by the flames that destroyed the sanctuary above it and the water that stopped the spread of the flames but flooded the parlor, sat a painting of Jesus Christ.
Quillen told the congregation, “This picture is a reminder that Jesus is with us. It doesn’t matter what else is going on, Jesus is walking with us, and he is walking with us through this time of fire and rebirth.”
People were shocked to see the photo. Michael Slusher was not.
“I do this job because of the Bible,” said Slusher, general manager of the Columbus, Ohio office of Mammoth Restoration. He then explained that on his very first restoration job, a job he took only for the paycheck, he found a Bible in the burned-out home of a widow of a former pastor. At that moment he made the decision to make restoring people’s lives his ministry.
“In the more than two decades that I have done this I can tell you that Bibles don’t burn. They may get crisp around the edges, but they don’t burn.”
Mammoth is a faith-based company that, on behalf of Brotherhood Mutual, is tasked with drying out and mitigating the Coshocton Grace UMC building to get it construction-ready so that Bailfish Services can come in, do an estimate, and start doing the work of putting the building back together.
“The sanctuary is in bad shape and the gymnasium is in bad shape. The school side of the building is really just water and smoke damage. I think that’s all going to be in great shape after we dry it out and Bailfish puts it back together,” Slusher said.
Prior to the May 22 service, the congregation gathered in the parking lot of Canal Lewisville UMC sharing stories and photos of the fire as well as their hopes of what might be salvaged from the burned-out sanctuary of their home church, Coshocton Grace UMC. After walking into Canal Lewisville as one, the congregation shared memories during the service of how they had been moved by God during their time in the Coshocton Grace building. As a sign of hope during the service in the congregation’s temporary home away from home, Quillen held up the collection plate that would be used to receive the morning offering. It had been found under ash in the Coshocton Grace UMC building on Friday.
The Connection of The United Methodist Church
“We’ve had lots of local churches reach out and churches from other districts and other conferences across The United Methodist Church have reached out since they’ve heard about the fire,” Brown said.
“With joy and sorrow, I came here today to worship with the resilient people of Coshocton Grace UMC following the devastating fire,” shared the Rev. Ed Fashbaugh. “Being a former superintendent of this Three Rivers District, I know members of this congregation and wanted them to know I stand with them. However, as the executive director of Connectional Ministries for our East Ohio Conference, I want the people of Grace UMC to know that the people of East Ohio stand with them.”
Rev. Laura White, superintendent of the Southern Hills District, and the Rev. Nestor Nazario, superintendent of the Mid-Ohio District brought the prayers and well wishes of the clergy and laity of their respective districts to share with the congregation of Coshocton Grace UMC.
Bishop Tracy S. Malone was unable to be at the worship service because she had a leadership role in United Women in Faith Assembly 2022 in Orlando, Florida but she asked Superintendent Brown to read to the congregation this message from her:
“Dear beloved of God … Pastor Quillen and the members of Grace United Methodist Church, I greet you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ … our comforter, our healer, our hope. It grieves my heart to learn that your church home, Grace United Methodist Church, has been destroyed by a fire. I know that this tragic loss has impacted you, and so many others in the community, in ways that cannot be fully expressed or comprehended … especially as you think about the cherished memories and significant life events that have taken place in your church home over the many years.
“As you gather for worship this morning, I want you to know that I am with you in spirit and am holding each of you in my heart … asking God to comfort you and to bless you … to give you strength and a renewed hope. I encourage you to remember that YOU are the CHURCH, the body of Christ, loved, called, and sent to share the love, the grace, and the Good News of Jesus Christ … to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
“Remember, that your memories will never be lost because they are yours to hold … they have no walls or structures … you keep them in your hearts … you share them with each other … they are a gift to behold. Remember, you are a faith community … strong in the Lord … a church family … and families stick together, pray together, and move forward in faith together.
“And best and most of all, remember the promises of God:
- ‘The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.’ (Deuteronomy 31:8)
- ‘But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.’ (Isaiah 40:31)
“And so, beloved of God: Grieve. Pray. And take time to remember. Commit to each other, commit to rebuild and commit to embrace your future, together. Walk together in faith, in love and with a steadfast hope. Our God is faithful and trustworthy, always abounding in grace and mercy and will give you a future with hope! In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit! Amen!”
Ministering to Others in New Ways
Nancy Zerbe, who like her sister Gloria Drobnack was married at Coshocton Grace UMC, shared that when the church was on fire she thought about their dad, George Stalder, who had done a lot of maintenance at the church when he was alive.
“Dad would have said, ‘nobody was hurt, the congregation is still there, the church is a building,’” she offered.
Quillen told the congregation during Sunday’s service, “When I close my eyes and think of the church I see your faces, I don’t see the building. Your memories are important, and as the bishop said they will never go away, and you can hold onto them. But from today forward we begin making new memories and whatever happened on Friday, May 20, 2022, that has to be our turning point for who Grace is.”
Before closing the service with the congregation singing “We Are the Church,” Quillen offered this prayer:
“Holy Lord, we can only imagine the plans that you have for us as we walk through this time of fire and destruction. Lord, we know that you are with us. We see you in the picture of your Son that stood and survived flame and water. We see you in butterflies that bring the message of hope during a time of ash and darkness. The light of your love pours over all of your children and especially right now Lord may your light pour over Grace. May you bathe us in healing warmth and hope. As we do every Sunday, we have gathered today to celebrate the gift of Jesus Christ and we remember the words that he spoke to his disciples to let them know that they would never be alone. He told them, ‘do not let your hearts be troubled, do not be afraid.’ How many times are we troubled and fearful, Lord? How many times do we feel hopeless in the face of an uncertain future? Help us to place our trust in you and in your Son. Open our hearts to see the wonder of your glory and release us from our anger, our pain, our loss, our mourning, our despair. Bring us to the realization that in your love we may find peace and joy and help us to look to the future, a new time, a new place, a new ministry. Amen.”
*Rick Wolcott is executive director of Communications for the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church.