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    The Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church


    news article

    Rush UMC fulfills dream with two projects

    February 20, 2018 / By Kathleen Christiansen

    When the Rush United Methodist Church was built a little over 20 years, there was always a desire to use the church’s land to provide opportunities for the community.

    The first opportunity came when the church built a large picnic pavilion – that seats 150 people – for public use, said the Rev. Cathy Hall Stengel, pastor at the Rush UMC.

    More recently, the church expanded upon this dream with two projects.

    About 18 months ago, a men’s group, Carpenter & Sons, formed at the Rush UMC with the goal of building a woodshop in a room downstairs in the church. They transformed a former choir room into a room fully equipped with power tools, work tables, and a small office for woodworking, various repairs, building, and more. On Monday nights, the group can be found refinishing things downstairs or working upstairs on an addition to the church.

    And the room isn’t just used for church purposes; anyone can use the woodshop, like a local handyman who, at times, will utilize the room to craft projects for customers.

    “It is not limited other than some safety regulations – no children using power tools,” said Rev. Stengel. “And it's not just for men – it just so happens that it was created by our men’s group.”

    And two amazing things have happened as a result, Rev. Stengel said.

    “It’s drawn some people into both partnership and small group settings that weren’t and re-engaged some of our older men who thought that their skills weren’t valuable anymore because they couldn’t do what they used to do,” she said. “And they have realized that God’s not finished with them, and we’re not finished with them.”

    The woodshop will soon install a donated dust removal system.

    In addition to the woodshop, the Rush UMC is also reaching out to the community through a canoe/kayak shed building, which was delivered about two weeks ago.

    Rev. Stengel said the idea for this building was “born out of unfortunate loss,” after a member of the congregation passed away in his early 50s. When Dan Varble’s memorial gifts came in, the church consulted with his loved ones to decide how to honor him. In keeping with his passion for Boy Scouts, the outdoors, and physical activity, they chose to support and enhance canoeing and kayaking at the creek behind the church with the shed.

    “Now we have the opportunity to reach out to and support the greater kayak and canoe community,” Rev. Stengel said.

    In the spring, racks will be built for people to put their canoes or kayaks, and there will be at least one canoe or kayak available for public use.

    “These two places of ministry have been born out of a passion/interest within the congregation – with the dream that those who are outside of our current ministry might be blessed by them,” Rev. Stengel said.


    With more than 168,000 members, the Upper New York Annual (Regional) Conference of The United Methodist Church comprises 865 local churches and 91 new faith communities in 12 districts, covering 48,000 square miles in 49 of the 62 counties in New York state. Our mission is to “live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be God’s love with our neighbors in all places."