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Church's light to shine year-round for parishioners

MOOERS FORKS The Mooers Forks and Mooers United Methodist churches celebrated the year-round reopening of the Mooers Forks facility during a brief outdoor ceremony Nov. 18, which included the dedication and lighting of a stained glass window overlooking State Route 11. Under a starry sky, a dozen members joined together to witness the official dedication of the window. Shortly after 6 p.m., a beam of light shone from behind, revealing the original 1924 leaded glass window depicting Jesus Christ holding a lamb. The Rev. Al Johnson, pastor of the Mooers Forks and Mooers United Methodist churches, led the visibly proud group in consecrating the light with a reading from the Gospel of Saint John, followed by a brief prayer. Among those present were four members of the original Mooers Forks congregation Ethel Sample, Marion Gibbons and Frank and Ella Goodrich. All expressed their enthusiasm and took the opportunity to reminisce about their youth in the church. Mr. Goodrich, whose family owned a store across the street, remembered how members would come to church with horse and buggies in the summer and horse drawn sleighs in the winter. Church was popular because you enjoyed meeting your friends and neighbors, said Mr. Goodrich. According to both Mr. Goodrich and his wife, Ella, Childrens Day was the highlight of the year. That was the day when the church was decorated with flowers and greenery, and children would make recitations, sing songs and perform marches and drills. The church was originally founded in the early 19th century, but dwindling attendance led the Mooers Forks congregation to merge with the Mooers congregation some 25 years ago. The Mooers Forks church has been well-maintained and keeps its special 1940s-50s ambiance; however, it has only been used for services during July and August due to the lack of indoor plumbing and restroom facilities. The reopening of the Mooers Forks church was made possible by the installation of a new chemical toilet. The $1,600 renovation was paid for by the trustees savings fund, with labor donated by the congregations own Methodist Menders, a group of men that performs maintenance and construction projects, both at the church and throughout the community. According to Mender Earl Robinson, work on both the chemical toilet and the window took place within the last three weeks; however, the projects were under consideration for some time. Fellow Menders Claude Perras and David Babbie also assisted with the work. The congregation is planning to use the Mooers Forks church for special events throughout the year, including a traditional homecoming Christmas Sunday, Dec. 23, beginning at 2 p.m. On Saturday, Dec. 1, congregants will join together to decorate the church for the holidays. Attendees can expect to see lots of old-fashioned touches modest decorations, wooden toys, popcorn strings, natural garlands and, perhaps as Mr. Goodrich remembers from his youth, candy boxes and fruit for the younger children. One nice thing about having this facility available year-round, explained the Rev. Johnson, is that we will be able to set up for events in advance without worrying about impacting the day-to-day operation of the church. When asked if the renovations are a step towards independence for the Mooers Forks church, the Rev. Johnson responded, We are one congregation with two buildings. This is a step towards utilizing our resources. The merge was necessary, said Mrs. Sample, echoing the pastors sentiment. But now we will be able to better use what we have. Several other attendees agreed the reopening was especially significant for older members, whose families may have attended the Mooers Forks church for generations. In the end, the Rev. Johnson hopes the lit window which will be illuminated nightly from 7-11 p.m. and again in the mornings from 5-7 a.m. will serve as an inspiration to the community. There are some who still consider Mooers Forks as their church that has closed, he said. We are hoping that this symbol of light will help them to connect with the congregation.

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