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Living Word invites Jeannette community to church on the hill

| Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Maria Tyger | The Jeannette Spirit

To the members of the Living Word Congregational Church, reaching out to the community is not only a way to evangelize the message of Christ, but to support local businesses in reaching their endeavors, as well.

Sharon Herbster, church administrator, said the church's focus is connecting with nearby neighborhoods and business activities so the Living Word church can “work together to share resources in the community.”

Officially re-named the Living Word Congregational Church in January 2012 and led by the Rev. Roy Aiken (who is recovering from ligament surgery), the parish sits on 103 acres of land that houses baseball and soccer fields and a football field that is used by the Greensburg YMCA's flag football league. A fall softball league is in the works, as well.

During the recent reenactment at the Bushy Run Battlefield, church members handed bottled water to attendees and provided shuttle service to the battlefield, allowing the use of the parking lot to help alleviate traffic congestion and saving visitors a long walk.

In addition to the community outreach, the church also houses a school, the Christian Fellowship Academy, that will welcome about 50 children back this fall, from preschool through seventh grade, coming from 12 different school districts.

Bussing is available to all and 20 percent of the student body are children of former students who moved onto either secondary private or public schools.

According to Herbster, who has taught at the school as well as served as principal, the school provides not only basics like math and English, but the “truth that can only be found in God's Word,” and the school provides a “biblical view of the world the kids can only get from Christian education.”

This, she said, can provide “preparation for the real world.”

Church members reflect the sense of community they would like to share. Herbster said after a complete restructuring of church government, which models the United States government, each member is encouraged to vote on decisions that are brought to their attention.

For example, positions in the church such as deacons, elders, issues at the school and expansions. The body of the church itself is incredibly diverse and this is a reflection of the communities that surround it.

Kids are included, too, in the Soldiers for Christ Youth Ministry. The church is also in the process of completing a “project” for children's church. It's called KIDS J.A.M. (Jesus And Me) and will replace the current children's church program. There is a special area in the church they are developing for this purpose and it is currently under construction.

When Herbster is not in the church with her husband, Russ, who serves as an elder, they are visiting their three children. Matt, 43, lives in Birmingham, Mich., and is an account manager for Magni Industries. Stephen, 42, works in the video production department for the Carolina Panthers organization, and Sara, 37, is a second-grade teacher who lives in Rural Hall, N.C. She is also a former student of the Christian Fellowship Academy. Herbster and her husband have four grandchildren, including a set of twins.

Sunday services start at 9:30 a.m. with Sunday school. Praise and worship time begins at 10:30. Wednesday is reserved for Family Ministries and this begins at 7 p.m. The church also offers Friday and Saturday prayer at 7 p.m.

For those in the community who cannot attend or would like to hear the message from the pulpit again, the church offers sermons on iTunes for download.

Herbster said churches should not be “islands to themselves” and, in reaching out, the church can “make the community more aware of what we represent.”

Services are open to anyone in the community, in addition to Bible studies. The community is welcome at the Living Word Congregational Church, located on Ridge Road in Jeannette.

Maria Tyger is a contributing writer.