REYNOLDSVILLE — The people of First United Methodist Church of Reynoldsville are dedicated to lending a helping hand to the community and beyond, while connecting the community with “a God who loves them.”
Rev. Thomas Carr says the building holds more than 100 years of history, but it’s the people that make the Jackson Street church what it is.
“The church has a long history of people who have devoted their lives to the congregation and the community,” he said.
FUMC Reynoldsville’s history goes back to 1874, said Carr, with the wood-frame structure built and completed around 1875 serving until it was torn down. The church was previously an extension of Emerickville United Methodist Church.
In 1905, construction of a new church began. Enough donations and pledges were received to dedicate the new building in 1906.
The church’s original organ was half paid for by Scottish-born industrialist Andrew Carnegie, Carr said, as one of his philanthropic endeavors to put pipe organs in churches. The electric organ was installed in 1954.
The spacious building’s tall, colorful windows depict scenes from Christ’s life, Carr said, including Jesus as a young boy teaching in the temple, Christ ascending, the Resurrection and the good shepherd.
“On a beautiful, sunny day, these windows come alive,” he said.
Elsie Ross of FUMC Reynoldsville served as a missionary to India for 38 years. Some of her belongings, including her “teaching chair” can be seen in the church today. There is also a plaque and photo on the wall, commemorating her lifetime contributions.
“Her ministry was supported greatly by this congregation,” Carr said.
Rev. Thomas Carr is in his eighth year of being the pastor at FUMC Reynoldsville. He lives in the parsonage right beside the church with his wife, Leah, who is the church’s administrative assistant. They have two daughters — Lynette Tavoletti and Krista Carr.
On average, FUMC Reynoldsville sees about 100 people in worship each week, Carr says. When someone attends the Jackson Street church, he said he hopes they leave feeling like they’ve gained not only a friend, but an important connection that everyone deserves.
“The thing that I hope, as a result of a person’s interaction with this congregation, is that they experience a connection with a God who loves them.”
The people of FUMC Reynoldsville have dedicated years to mission trips, Carr said. In her early 20s, Brennan McMillen and her mother, Robin, traveled to a small village — Santa Maria de Jesus in Guatemala — as part of “Moving Mountains Missions,” where they discovered their love for its people.
Several church members went the second year, and it has now become an annual trip, he said. As many as 10 people have gone in one year, doing things like installing stoves, concrete floors and bunk beds.
Brennan spends months at a time there, Carr said, and she and a friend created and operate a nonprofit feeding program. When he thinks of Elsie Ross and Brennan McMillen, he can see the similarities, even many years apart.
“It’s a great picture of the kind of church that this is,” he said.
When the idea of FUMC Reynoldsville’s logo came about, the first thing that came to mind was “hands,” Carr said, since the people of the church are fully dedicated to lending a helping hand.
In American Sign Language, the position of the hand means “I love you.” There is a heart in the center of the palm, as well as a cross and flame, which is the registered trademark for The United Methodist Church. The logo also includes the phrase “Serving God, Serving Everyone.”
FUMC Reynoldsville offered sign language classes each Sunday for a couple of years, aiming to reach local deaf families, Carr said.
“It’s all about trying to reach new people — reaching the unreached.”
People and programs
FUMC Reynoldsville’s “Neighbors Helping Neighbors” program is dedicated to helping the surrounding community through various efforts, Carr said.
“TLC Meals” are offered once a week for those who may need them. Three or four different teams rotate when it comes to making and serving the meals.
In the past, the neighbors have done things like rake leaves for a former pastor. Every summer, a “Christmas in July” effort is held, providing clothing and school supplies for low-income Reynoldsville families. The congregation also offers a free Christmas dinner, a nativity for children to participate in, Christmas carols and gift bags during the holidays.
In conjunction with the Salvation Army’s “Project Bundle Up,” the NHN group created “Project Warm Up” about eight years ago, Carr said, when they saw a greater need in the community. It helps to provide coats and cold-weather clothing for about 100 children per year. The group hosts fundraisers throughout the year, such as rummage sales and hoagie sales.
For more information, visit www.fumcreynoldsville.org or the Facebook page.