Central Endicott “Best Place to Worship”
January 13, 2021 / By Rev. Dr. Michelle Bogue-Trost
In a delightful end to the difficult year that was 2020, Endicott: Central UMC was chosen as the “Best Place to Worship” in the Binghamton Press and Sun Bulletin’s Readers’ Choice awards.
Members consistently reflect this reality, and some have explained why.
Amber Gaylord comments, “Central is the best place to worship because everyone is so welcoming to anyone and everyone. It’s like my second family.” And Barb Parcells says, “Central is the best place to worship because when you're there, you feel like you are surrounded by family who will be there for you always.”
Incoming Lay Leader Jeff Heald says, “Central’s amazing and affirming family has nurtured my unexpected faith journey, and it’s exciting to be a part of our constantly evolving efforts to make the love of God known to our community and the world.”
Maggie Wolford, member of Central and Lay Leader of hope@central, our New Faith Community, echoes both as she writes, “We love worshiping at Central because it feels like a family. Whether it’s in person or virtual, you encounter the same people every week and develop a relationship. People ask how we are, check-in on us and our families, etc. We are so blessed to have resources which allowed us to have broadcasting options in place even before the pandemic - and an incredible team of volunteers to work in our tech booth and make everything run smoothly!”
The format of worship did change by necessity in 2020, in response to state, Conference, and internal COVID protocols, yet has garnered much positive response and attracted new participants. Laurel O’Connor, Central’s Associate Pastor for Faith and Action, writes:
"Central UMC has intentionally created a Livestream + Live worship that engages both the Livestream worshipers at home as well as those present in-person, with questions, prayers, and more. Worshipers can actually be seen on their phones, participating in the livestream conversation with friends all over the country and beyond - which works well in a world where we can't get close for fellowship time.
Another important shift is the creation of a "tech-free" experience. With so much changing in a Livestream worship format, we wanted to make sure no one was left behind; this worship experience connects with the past in an early church format with no sung music and socially distanced Communion each week. Rather than splitting services into a "contemporary" and "traditional," this split of "no tech" and "high tech" has allowed people either to attend in person or to stay at home,yet continue to experience meaningful worship.
This has also allowed us to be more nimble if things do have to shut down again; we continue with our Livestream+Live service but have the option to leave out the "+Live" component as well as pause Early Church temporarily as needed. This allows for continuity of faith formation and worship, while observing the safest practices possible."
I am honored to serve God with this community at Central.