My friend Heather Ault invited me to go with her to visit Community Gospel Church in Oneonta, NY. We hit the road around 8:30 am to make the 10:00 service. We arrived as the worship was just starting. People were warm and welcoming as we made our way in. I counted about 65 people and they were all engaged in the worship. I enjoyed the contemporary style with seasoned players and singers with angelic harmony. I was also blessed to see a team of worship dancers, dressed in matching outfits, and moving together in one accord. In the midst of the new songs and casual atmosphere, the small pipe organ and stained glass windows reminded me yet again of those who congregated before us. I sensed God’s presence there as we joined together to sing “We Believe”…
We believe in God the Father, we believe in Jesus Christ
We believe in the Holy Spirit, and He’s given us new life
We believe in the crucifixion, we believe that He conquered death
We believe in the resurrection, and He’s coming back again, we believe!
After the praise & worship, there were a few announcements and they collected an offering. Then Joe, an elderly gentleman who had been blind since birth, went up to sing and play a song on his autoharp. He reminded me of Fanny Crosby, the great hymn writer, who was also blind. It did not stop her from serving the Lord through song and public speaking, with thousands of hymns to her credit. Joe was doing the same thing…working through his handicapped all for God’s glory. What a wonderful expression of love the church showed by giving this man the opportunity to share during the service. This church made a positive impression on me before the message even got started.
Pastor Don Yarborough made his way up to the pulpit. His message was bold yet filled with the love of God. A Vietnam veteran, he had me on the edge of my seat listening as he spoke with authority. One thing he shared was about unity in the Body of Christ. He stated, “The Spirit in me recognizes the Spirit in you”. This rang true at that very moment, as I sat in a church filled with strangers, yet I was “at home” and with family. I recognized the Spirit in this man….the Holy Spirit…speaking through him. He then went to Ephesians 4:8 and said, “You are either a slave to sin or a slave to holiness”, and referenced the old Bob Dylan song “Gotta Serve Somebody”.
“You’re gonna have to serve somebody, indeed, You’re gonna have to serve somebody.
It may be the devil or it may be the Lord, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody.”
He then went on to share, “As we serve the Lord, we should never bury our gifts. God puts the gifts in us, but we must take the first step to operate in those gifts”. The service concluded with communion and the altar was open for prayer. I spent time after the service with Joe, the blind man, and he played me a special song he had written for his sister who had passed away. I also spoke with Pastor Don, who was in no rush to leave. I love to see the people linger in fellowship after the service is over. It’s a good indication that they like each other!
For those in the Oneonta area, I highly recommend a visit to Community Gospel Church. You will be blessed with a wonderful time of worship, a powerful message and a Pastor who encourages the people in their gifts and callings. This church journey was well worth the longer journey…and it got me thinking. Jesus and the Apostles would have had to walk! An air conditioned car traveling at 65 mph along I-88 made me realize that Oneonta really wasn’t that far from Albany after all.
Church Page – www.cgconeonta.org
By Donna Hansen Munafo