Church members provide energy to congregation in Jeannette
For a small church on Harrison Avenue in Jeannette, a sense of community is not only available for members, but to anyone willing to walk through the doors.
The Rev. David Gilmore, pastor of the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church, has a different view of churchgoing. He sees participants not as “spectators,” but an active part of the body of Christ that provides the life and energy to the church service itself.
For the past eight years, Gilmore has been shepherding the flock on the familiar site, after spending the earlier part of his career at the FMC Corporation in Homer in planning, scheduling and inventory control. After downsizing in the company, he decided to attend classes at Nyack College in New York and pursued full-time ministry.
Having been part of his present church “all his life,” his calling started early. At 12, he accepted Christ, developing a deep, personal relationship with God, and spent time volunteering in his home church in Indiana County. He describes his decision to enter the ministry as an easy one, because that's where his heart was.
He lives in Blairsville with his wife, Dawn, who “does everything,” at the church. She is also the secretary to the principal of Blairsville Elementary School. Together, they share five sons. Jason is a teacher in Charlotte, N.C.; Adam is an engineer in Erie; Brenton lives in Ellwood City, Aaron lives in Pittsburgh and Andrew is attending classes at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
In mid-July, Gilmore and his oldest son Jason took a six-day bike ride together along the Great Allegheny Passage Trail to the Chesapeake and Ohio Trail, which ends in Washington, D.C. They averaged about 50 miles a day and the entire trip was approximately 350 miles.
Gilmore said they had to travel light, bringing only camping gear and light snacks. They stopped periodically to eat full meals. Gilmore had some reservations, though, unsure of how he would feel after the first day. He was pleasantly surprised at his endurance and said he felt “great,” even after the first day.
Jason, who came up with the idea, has participated in several Iron Man Contests and kept a watchful eye over his father.
“You can always do more than you think you can,” said Gilmore.
The church's biggest ministry is with children. The Kids Zone runs on Sunday nights from September to May and entertains kids ages 3 through fifth grade with crafts, Bible stories and music. Last month, the church held its vacation Bible school and it was attended by several children in the area of all ages.
The church also holds “Grace Events” like pancake breakfasts and hot dog corner, which are open to the public and no donations are accepted. During the holiday season, they also hold the “Hanging of the Green” festivity that resembles an Andy Williams Christmas time celebration.
The church will hold the Alliance Bible Study with a focus on the teachings of Beth Moore this fall. Much of the womens ministry focuses on missionary work, such as sending bandages and holding assorted fundraisers to send items to needy people abroad.
Services are open the public. Sunday school for all ages begins at 9:45 a.m. and worship starts at 10:45 a.m. and ends at noon. Sunday evening offers the Kids Zone at 6 p.m. and a youth group for middle- and high-school students at the same time. Wednesday evening is a midweek prayer service at 7 p.m.
To the reverend and his church, building relationships in the community is a way to not only share the Word of God, but also a way to provide familiarity and support to its neighbors, members and non-members of the parish. All are welcome.
Maria Tyger is a contributing writer.