Monday, April 28, 2014

New church brings reival back to Windham - By Elizabeth Richards

A new church in Windham parallels a revival that happened more than 40 years ago in the very same building. The Little Meetinghouse is the site of the new Shift Ministry, which meets primarily on Saturday nights at 5:30 p.m. 
In 1970, the congregational church based at The Little Meetinghouse underwent a revival, remembered by longtime Windham resident, 90-year-old Shirley Saunders, who is now part of Shift Ministry as well as being a member of the Windham Assembly of God church. Saunders said that in 1970 a new pastor arrived to teach the word of God. One question that he asked her at their first meeting, “How long have you been a Christian?” made a huge impact in her life, she said. Saunders said that in 33 years of going to church, no one had ever asked her that. 

“Going to church was something you did on Sunday. You didn’t talk about it the rest of the week, you didn’t learn anything, it wasn’t the biggest thing in your whole life,” she said. She said she thought about that question all day, and that evening after her children were put to bed she asked her husband the same question. “For the first time in 33 years we talked about it,” Saunders said. Though that pastor only remained with the church for two years, and his replacement another two, members of the church had found something they were looking for, and out of that revival came two Assembly of God churches in Windham, said Saunders.

Forty-four years later, Shift Ministry is starting a revival of its own. The creation of the church came from a desire in the community for something more, said member and Windham business owner Robert Corthell. “We wanted something a little bit more free spirited, something where we can express ourselves and love the Lord the way that he wanted us to without rules and regulations, plain and simple. We’re like minded people that got together,” he said. 

Scott Pyle spent 24 years as a youth pastor, and now leads Shift Ministry as their pastor. He draws a parallel to what happened in the 70s and what is happening now. “The people who gathered together back then were all looking for something more,” he said. “We all got together and said there’s got to be something more. There’s more to this than just slip in, slump down and slide out. There’s more to it than just having your name on a membership roll.” A core group of members spent a few months praying and casting vision, he said, and when they found the space at the Little Meetinghouse available they started holding services in early January. 

One of the goals of Shift Ministry is to operate as a church without walls, keeping worship going beyond the weekly services. “Church is not a place you go. We’re the church, that’s what Jesus said, we’re the church,” said Pyle. 

Regular service times are at 5:30 p.m. on Saturdays, though due to scheduling at the Little Meetinghouse there are sometimes changes. That day and time was chosen for many reasons, said Pyle. One of those reasons was to allow for people who attend other services to come to Shift, as well as allowing for other pastors to attend. “A lot of the reason behind the 5:30 Saturday service was so that we didn’t take away from other churches, but we could bless other churches by pouring into their people, pouring into their pastors,” said Pyle. 

Corthell added that they have a mantra. “We don’t compete, we complete.” He said they aren’t trying to take people from other churches but want to help local congregations and work in unity with them. 

Pyle said he wants people to know that everybody is welcome. The way people look doesn’t matter, the way people choose to worship doesn’t matter. “I want people to come and experience true freedom in the Lord. It doesn’t matter what your hurts, your habits, or your hang ups are, we’re here,” he said. 

Corthell added that reaching out to the kids in the community, giving them a safe place where they can be accepted, is another major goal. “We’re going to grow big enough that we’re going to be able to take care of the kids and turn them around, and get them straightened out in the right direction,” he said. At the present time, Shift does not have a youth program in place. 

Pyle said there is a need for Shift to have their own facility, where activities can take place several times during the week. They have looked at some options, and plan to stay in the Windham area. Shift is a non-denominational, independent church where everyone is welcome. For more information, check their Facebook page or contact Pyle at or 939-0442.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your Comments Help Improve Your Community.