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2013-03-13 / Front & Center

Columbiaville United Methodist is a spiritual landmark in community

BY ABIGAIL WISE
Contributing Writer


Before beginning their weekly Wednesday Bible study, Betty Pearce (front left) led Karen Jones, John Trudeau (front right), Marlene Strong, Joyce Thatcher, Marguerite Gerwolds (back right) and Janeen Hoskins (back left) in prayer. The group meets every Wednesday, 5:30-6:30 p.m.; anyone is welcome to attend. 
Photos by Abigail Wise Before beginning their weekly Wednesday Bible study, Betty Pearce (front left) led Karen Jones, John Trudeau (front right), Marlene Strong, Joyce Thatcher, Marguerite Gerwolds (back right) and Janeen Hoskins (back left) in prayer. The group meets every Wednesday, 5:30-6:30 p.m.; anyone is welcome to attend. Photos by Abigail Wise COLUMBIAVILLE — As part of their devotions for Lent, the congregation of Columbiaville United Methodist Church is walking the 1,580 miles to Jerusalem.

While the destination may not be literal — church members have been walking at locations convenient to each individual — the miles are real. For every 10 miles walked, members get to decorate a paper footprint and add it to the line of prints adorning the church’s walls. While the church’s metaphorical pilgrimage is an integral part of its Easter celebrations, it is one of many events and activities that make up the atmosphere of Columbiaville Methodist.


Pastor Kristen Parks of Columbiaville United Methodist Church will be giving Sunday sermons on favorite hymns throughout the season of Lent in the church’s sanctuary. Pastor Kristen Parks of Columbiaville United Methodist Church will be giving Sunday sermons on favorite hymns throughout the season of Lent in the church’s sanctuary. An active church for about 146 years, Columbiaville United Methodist is a spiritual landmark in the village. Every Sunday, the church’s bells ring, calling its members to worship. Over its long history, the church has had several additions built to accommodate its growing congregation. Now, with an average of 80 or more attendees at Sunday services, the church is thriving and its pastor of the last two and a half years, Pastor Kristen Parks, is happy to see new faces during worship.

From attending to the dietary needs of flocks of animals in Texas to caring for the spiritual needs of her proverbial flock at Columbiaville United Methodist Church, Parks, 28, has followed her life’s two passions. “I have two great loves: Jesus and animals,” Parks said.

When she was 13, Parks first felt the call to a life in the church. Though she strayed away from the idea in high school and in college pursued her love of animals, earning a bachelor’s degree in zoology, after just eight months at a working zoo, she returned to the idea of working in the church. “It just wasn’t a fulfilling job for me,” Parks said. “It just wasn’t where I was being called to.”

Parks returned to school for another three years and earned her master of divinity degree. She was assigned to the Columbiaville United Methodist Church and said she has loved her time there. “It’s been really fun for me. ... My call is to love God’s people, and serving in churches is the best way I’ve found to do that.” Her favorite part of working as pastor at Columbiaville has been “getting to know people on the real, not just Sunday morning level. ... They become like your family.”

At a typical Sunday service, visitors can expect to read scripture, possibly watch a video, sing hymns and listen to a sermon by Parks. “I just really like to preach about the things that give people hope,” Parks said. For the remaining Sundays of Lent, Parks will be continuing a series of sermons focused on favorite hymns.

On March 30, Parks and her congregation are looking forward to the annual Easter Eve Fair. Children from the church as well as local elementary schools will get to enjoy egg dyeing, cookie decorating and admiring live bunnies and chicks. Parks said the Easter Bunny will also be hopping around for a visit during the fair. On Easter morning there will be a special sunrise service at 8 a.m. and a breakfast at 8:30 a.m.

Following Easter, the church will host a military themed quilt show. Several handmade quilts will be on display and a presenter will give a talk on the miracle quilts given to veterans. There will be a memorabilia room for people to bring in uniforms, medals or other military-related items for display. Other fine arts, such as yarn crafts and stained glass, will also be on display in the church basement. Parks said the quilt show is one of two popular events put on by the church’s women’s group every year.

Another popular activity at the church is its monthly community dinners, held on the fourth Monday of each month. Parks said members of the church spend all day preparing the meal and an average of 300 to 400 people show up at each dinner. The meal is served on a voluntary donation basis. Because the donations help pay for the church’s utilities and other essentials, the congregation works hard to make sure the dinners run smoothly. “Just about everybody’s involved in it in one way or another,” said Parks.

For more information on Columbiaville United Methodist, call 810-793- 6363 during office hours, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Monday - Wednesday.

The church, located at 4696 Pine St., Columbiaville, holds a Sunday service at 10:45 a.m., September through May, and 10 a.m. during the summer. Sunday school begins at 9:30 a.m. but is not held during the summer months.

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