Since moving to New Haven in June of this year, I have been amazed at the way the whole upper part of Mason County churches work together to provide for the physical and spiritual needs of the communities here. New Haven is located on the Ohio River about twenty miles north of Point Pleasant, but the Bend Area is really a group of communities who celebrate together, worship together, and care for each other together.
Besides shared ecumenical worship services and area cantatas, the churches work together on a Christmas Parade which travels through New Haven, Hartford, and Mason. They also participated in an ecumenical coat drive for the area schools with other churches from the Letart area and the Upper Mason Parish, providing over eighty new coats to the children and youth in the area.
We have the privilege of presenting the gospel message to the students at Wahama High School each Wednesday to students who share lunch with the pastors and volunteers and participating in an afterschool program at New Haven Elementary and the other area elementary schools. As a retired school teacher, these opportunities excite me for the planting of spiritual seeds and building connections with children and youth who may or may not attend church already.
One of the missions of the area is the Upper Bend Area Food Pantry run by an ecumenical group of volunteers. Several churches have active volunteers who participate weekly to distribute food to needy folks in the area. During the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas, the volunteer base grew from a bunch of retirees and clergy to include many high school students.
Students from nearby Meigs County, Ohio, as well as Wahama High School came to help pack the huge boxes of holiday food and treats for distribution to their neighbors. We are truly blessed to live in a place where people of all ages look out for each other in more ways than one.
Paula Napier is pastor of New Haven and Graham Station United Methodist Churches in the Western District.