Cranberry church reaches out to young adults

| Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

Leaders of Dutilh United Methodist Church in Cranberry are building a new congregation from the inside out.

On Oct. 12, a new format for worship will debut on its New Day Campus on Pittsburgh Street in Mars, the site of Mars United Methodist Church. Young adults, ages 18 to 30, are invited to attend services every Saturday at 5 p.m.

“They'll listen to a praise band, hear a short message and have an open discussion on what they hear,” said the Rev. Dwayne Burfield Jr., pastor of Dutilh's Cranberry campus. “It's a different format for a different worship experience.”

The idea for a more contemporary service began quite innocently when someone walked out of a regular service and was heard to say: “After the sermon, I wanted to raise my hand and ask a question.”

But in a more formal setting of a United Methodist service, that wouldn't be possible, said Burfield, 61, who has led the congregation for four years.

Membership of the merged churches totals approximately 1,100 members, mostly families. The average age of a congregant is 45.

That statement after the service led to a 35-member team that studying the idea of a less formal service. The team was led by Matt McCarrier, 25, Dutilh's youth ministries director. Ultimately, he will be New Day's pastor.

“I looked into it and prayed about it,” the Cranberry resident said as they developed a more interactive format, where participants could be more than part of the audience.

“The teaching will be Biblically based and relevant to today's culture and current events,” he said. “It will be presented from a Christian point of view. “

Discussion on the topics will follow.

For ease of conversation, the sanctuary on the New Day Campus has been redone. Hardwood floors have replaced the carpeting. Tables and chairs now take the place of pews, and plasma screens have been installed. While the floor space has been modernized, the pipes from the old organ and the church's stained glass windows remain. In an alcove near the sanctuary, a little café setting will allow for continued discussions.

“We want it to feel like they're meeting at a friend's house,” said McCarrier.

Both pastors hope the idea catches on. And if that happens, they'd be happy to schedule additional weekend or weeknight service times.

“This was what the early church was like when people came together for fellowship, discussion and to eat a meal together,” Burfield said. “We'll welcome anyone of any age into the group. Even 65-year-olds can have questions.”

The Mars campus is the perfect place to begin.

“It's a new start with the campus,” said McCarrier, “a new awakening, a new vision, a New Day.”

New Day Campus is located at 525 Pittsburgh St., Mars. The Cranberry Campus is located at 1270 Dutilh Road, where services are held on Sunday mornings at 8:30, 9:45 and 11.

Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6353

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