In 1997, Eagle Mills UMC and Memorial UMC merged to become what we now know as Hope United Methodist Church. Located east of Troy in the hamlet of Eagle Mills, Dave Martin has served here as lead Pastor for nearly 20 years. My husband and I recently attended a memorial service at Hope UMC with Pastor Dave officiating. Impressed by the warmth of the people and by Pastor Dave’s jovial personality, I knew that a Church Journey to Hope UMC was in the near future.
The first hymn we sang was “To God be the Glory” by Fanny Crosby. Fanny has always been my favorite hymn writer, so I was immediately drawn in. Marge Roden, the church organist, played beautifully. Just 93 years young, she has been the organist at Hope UMC since 1940. In 2015, a dedication plaque commemorating 75 years of service was put on the Hammond organ she plays each week (enjoy the Times Union article below). A small choir, which included Pastor Dave, shared a song special, “I’m Gonna Sing When the Spirit Says Sing”. This congregations love for singing was evidenced by the exuberant hand clapping! Next in the order of service was the children’s lesson, and it was obvious that Pastor Dave truly enjoyed talking with these little ones. Pastor Dave had two pots – one was a fake pot of sunflowers; the other a real plant. Holding the real plant, he explained that it needs to be nurtured, relating it to our faith. I always find that these “child messages” apply to adults in such a powerful way. What kind of faith do we have? Dead or alive?
Pastor Dave’s sermon was entitled, “Living Faith Bears Fruit”. You cannot work your way into a relationship with God. However, if you have a relationship with God, you will be transformed and changed. The Bible warns us against a faith that is counterfeit or dead. Religiosity is going through the motions. You may look good on the outside, but inside you are dead (Matthew 23:27). Pastor Dave then quoted a statement that had been made by a church member (Ruth). “If you believe something, you’re gonna do something about it!” Living faith that saves is going to bear fruit. It will affect our attitude and our actions. James 2:17 states, “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” What kind of faith do you have?
Following the message there was a time to meet and greet, and then it was open to all to share a testimony or prayer request. I always love hearing from the congregation, and I listened intently as several of them shared praise reports. The prayer needs were great, but our God is greater. Pastor Dave then lead us in a prayer … for the CHURCH to awaken, for our country, our military, our town officials and leaders, leaders in the church, families suffering addiction or loss. He then thanked God for the plans and purposes He has for our lives. We all said the “Our Father” together. I hear this prayer so often in my Church Journeys and it is a reminder to me that we are ONE BODY in Christ. It was an added blessing to be able to take communion with my newly met family members.
God sometimes leads us to places and people and mere words cannot explain the specialness of it. Today was one of those times. The sad part of my church journeys is knowing I won’t be able to visit as often as I’d like to. I thanked God for leading me here today. I was thankful to have met Marge Roden, the organist who has been faithfully serving here since WWII. I was thankful for a convicting message that stirred me to activate my faith even more. As we closed in song, Pastor Dave stood in the front row with his hands raised high. I was thankful to have connected with him; a man with LIVING faith who loves people and loves God with all his heart.
Traditional services are held on Sundays at 10:30 am. Sunday evening services are hard to find these days, so I was happy to hear that they have a contemporary Sunday evening service at 5:30 pm. They also have morning prayer in the worship center daily, 6am-7am (except Fridays and Sundays). They have worship services at Fawn Ridge Assisted Living on Wednesdays, 3:30-4:30 and Pastor Dave teaches a Bible Study at the Eddy Nursing Home every Thursday, 10-11. Hope UMC also offers “Small World Nursery School” for children ages 2, 3, and 4 (see website for registration info.).
I hope the Lord leads you to visit Hope UMC. Pastor Dave and the congregation would love to meet you. And you can hear Marge Roden, perhaps one of the longest serving church organists in the world, play a beautiful hymn on that old Hammond. That’s worth the trip alone!
Church Website – http://www.troyhopeumc.org
Times Union Article on Marge Roden – www.timesunion.com/news/article/Faces-of-Faith-75-years-at-the-keyboard-6281666.php#photo-8031255
By Donna Hansen Munafo