After 50 years, church maintains vision, commitment

A festive gathering of members and friends celebrating 50 years of spiritual growth and community service at the St. James United Methodist Church shared memories, smiles and prayers of gratitude at a reception following a special worship service, on Nov. 19.

Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar, of the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church, shared a message of thanksgiving and hope for the future during the worship service led by the Rev. Lynne Mentzer, the church’s pastor since July 2016.

Music Director Darlene Skene and the choir introduced an anthem commissioned for the occasion entitled “Songs of Faith, Hymns of Hope” as several members, youth, charter members and former pastors participated in worship leadership.

Highlights of the church’s first 50 years were recalled in an opening prayer, one with references to the vision of its founding members and the acquisition by sealed bid of the current sanctuary and office space from Grenier Field in Manchester. The buildings were moved in pieces and reassembled on the current site some 45 years ago, Mentzer said.

“The vision and commitment of our founding members continues to form the DNA of this community of faith,” she said. “As we look back, we thank God for so many blessings; but we’re also looking forward to embrace whatever God has in mind for us next.”

Among the ongoing ministries of the St. James United Methodist Church are community building, spiritual growth and faith education. In addition, there is a commitment to meeting the needs of neighbors, near and far, through a weekly food pantry and “clothes closet,” a site where free clothing is distributed once a week. There also is a mission hub that supplies health kits, flood buckets, baby needs and clothing to those in immediate need around the world.

In addition, many community groups consider St. James their home base. The groups include the Merrimack Garden Club; the Merrimack Valley Beekeepers Assoc.; Boys Scouts; AA; St. Joseph’s Exercise Class; Home, Health and Hospice Care; Merrimack Safeguard and an Indian dance class.

Longtime members Gene and Dick Tinglof of Merrimack, both 91, were among those at the reception. Surrounded by their many friends, they recalled nearly 50 years’ of memories, many of which resulted in bursts of laughter. Daughter Jody Plante, an agent at the family-owned Tinglof Insurance Agency, recalled that her parents were always “so involved” with the church.

Plante, a graduate of Merrimack High School and member of the Merrimack Lions Club, said that Gene and Dick were active with numerous church committees and charitable projects over the years. She said her mother would dive into any needed task.

“They were so involved,” Plante said. “If anybody ever needed anything, they were the first to help.”

Mentzer noted that this spirit of giving is alive and well throughout this church community. She thanked everyone for their dedication to the mission and ministries of the church and noted that the St. James United Methodist Church continues to fulfill its founding scripture: “Faithful Fruitful in Works.”

“To be sure, the church is always changing,” said Mentzer. “But what doesn’t change is the love of God shared by the people of God.”