New church celebrates its Consecration Sunday
By Audrey Stanton-Smith
New banners stating “We are One in the Spirit” and “We are One in the Lord” decorated the sanctuary where two recently merged Southern District churches united on Sept. 20 for their Consecration Sunday.
Joined by Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball and Southern District Superintendent Rev. Dr. Joe Kenaston, masked and socially distanced church members and their Rev. Betsy Evans Ingstrup dedicated the morning to officially forming a new congregation, Beckley Community United Methodist Church.
“The Scriptures teach us that the Church is the household of God, the body of which Christ is the head, and that it is the design of the gospel to bring together in one all who are in Christ,” Ingstrup said in greeting the church. “We have come together to form a new congregation of The United Methodist Church, which is part of Christ’s holy Church.”
The 11 a.m. service served as the culmination of months of lay leadership-led Zoom meetings, voting, and celebrations of history among the members of what was Saint Mary’s United Methodist Church and First United Methodist Church. The two historic Beckley churches — part of Raleigh Shared Ministries — recognized they could accomplish more together than individually. Though they chose to keep both campuses, the new church currently meets at the former First United Methodist Church site on South Heber Street because its larger sanctuary simplifies the current necessary practice of socially distant seating.
Sunday, Bishop Steiner Ball called on members of the congregation to depend on their strong foundation and “keep growing from the inside out.”
“We are to lay our foundations deep within the teaching and the example of Christ, so … what does Christ model for us? To give. And to give abundantly,” Steiner Ball said during her sermon, “Bring on the Power.”
“Is that not what God did and does and continues to do?” … We have been blessed by this community, by this new faith community,” she continued. “We have been blessed by God and Christ. … We have been blessed for the purpose of being a blessing to others.”
The bishop called on the church to remember its vows and commitment, “ … a commitment which should inspire deep-rooted foundational care for each other as well as for our local and global community. Jesus calls us, has called you together, because we are stronger together and we can fulfill the power of Christ, the giving of abundant life through Christ, as we work together in this new faith community.”
The consecration service also included the official organization of the congregation, the consecration of the new church, consecration of the pulpit, consecration of the baptismal font, and consecration of the Lord’s Table.
Diagonal Minister Laura Fygetakes asked those in attendance to leave offerings as they exited the sanctuary. Cans of non-perishable food and monetary donations were collected for Pine Haven Homeless Shelter, the first of many local mission opportunities members of the new congregation say they look forward to fulfilling as one.