Monday, July 15, 2024

Shawville churches unite for Thanksgiving service

Glen Hartle
Shawville Oct. 8, 2023
The congregations of all four Shawville churches gathered for a collective Thanksgiving service on Sunday in the Pontiac High School gymnasium. The Bethel Pentecostal, Shawville United, New Hope Christian Fellowship and St Paul’s Anglican churches came together as one, as did the community.
Initially planned for approximately 150, organizers gladly coordinated with school custodian Wayne Brown to provide more seating as the near 200 attendees filed in.
The special service of worship had long been in the works as a part of the Shawville 150th anniversary celebrations and was included among the 12 official events in the Rotary Club-sponsored Shawville150 Event Passport. Participants in the passport activities are invited to collect stamps at various sanctioned events throughout the year and, at year’s end, those with more than 50 per cent of the events stamped are encouraged to submit their passport as entry for a chance to win prizes.
The service of worship was well attended not only by members of the various congregations, but also by a wider audience including local officials and the community. Pontiac MNA André Fortin was joined on stage by MRC Warden Jane Taller and Shawville Mayor Bill McCleary. Their words were both brief and relevant with Fortin bringing laughter by suggesting that those gathered were likely set to enjoy the musical contributions of the service more that the words of the elected officials.
Reverend Stuart Marples, of New Hope Christian Fellowship, led things off with a summary of how important the churches have been in the more than 150-year history of the area and followed this up with an open prayer, relying upon the words of Psalm 19 in closing: “may the words of our mouths, and the meditations of our hearts, be acceptable in your sight” – a common component of most liturgies. Marples then reclaimed his seat amongst the choir, rejoining his voice once again to the many already there.

The choir, composed of community members including members of all four churches, was a part of an overall program heavily weighted in music. It was directed by Cheryl Campbell and accompanied by Greg MacIntosh on keyboard and Jill Tracy on flute. Joining them in the musical presentations were the Horner sisters consisting of Dawn, Janyce, Susan and Nancy, and their lead off number How Great Thou Art roundly united community with congregation. By song’s end, some near two hundred voices filled the air.
Guest speaker Pastor Terry Pitt, a native of the community who grew up in Caldwell and who now leads the Evangel Church in Kingston, delivered a near 30-minute message on “The Difference One Night Makes”. The message, from both a theological standpoint as well as a humanistic one, was well-received: it takes but one moment to change your life and perhaps that moment is now.
Reverend Susan Lewis, of St Paul’s Anglican Church, took charge from there and brought more traditional components of worship where the Prayers of Intercession invited the gathered to respond in faith.
All in all, it was community. While the motivations behind attendance may have varied, as will have the take-aways, what was commonly celebrated was community. And that has to be what organizers had hoped, and, likely, what they now offer thanks for.


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