KINGSTON -- In the shadow of potential problems from Hurricane Sandy this week, one local church celebrated its founding, which resulted from the Hurricane Agnes Flood of 1972.
Members of The Church of Christ Uniting on Market Street held the church's 40th anniversary and homecoming service on Sunday commemorating the church's beginning when members from the First United Methodist and Kingston Presbyterian churches decided to band together after their places of worship were inundated in June of 1972.
It was a case of one plus one equals three, said longtime member John Johnson.
After the water receded, members from both churches agreed the cost of refurbishing the flood-damaged sanctuaries, located on opposite sides of Market Street, would be a great hardship on each congregation, Johnson said. So the members from both churches voted unanimously to blend both denominations and take on the task together, he said.
The differences in the denominations were not barriers, Johnson said.
About 150 worshippers gathered for the service, which included a message from the Rev. Jon Buxton, district superintendent of the Susquehanna Conference, who emphasized the importance of overcoming obstacles and facing the real challenges of the future.
Since the merger, the church has become active in outreach efforts to the local communities, Johnson said. The West Side Food Pantry works from there, Head Start classes are held there, and Meals on Wheels are delivered from there, he said.
Our community and mission outreaches are our greatest achievements, he said.
Members have gone to Third World countries to help build schools and churches, Johnson said. He has been to Honduras and Haiti several times, including a trip this past February, he said.
After the services, the members gathered for fellowship, viewing photos from the last 40 years, he said. It was quite a trip down memory lane, he said.
Pastor the Rev. Dr. Carol Ann Fleming said the merger 40 years ago was a gateway to the future.
The church was born of a crisis and now must face a new crisis, she said.
Fleming said one in five people claim to have some type of church affiliation; however, four of five live with spiritual hunger.
It's a crisis of faith, she said.
When the churches merged they did more than drop their old names and start the new Church of Christ Uniting, Fleming said. They showed how working together is more beneficial to themselves and their community than holding on to the past.
It shows the power of what we can do together, she said.