Members from the Bell Branch church passed out more than 60 sleeping bags on Jan. 9.
Photo by Jacklyn Ruth // communication specialist for Chesapeake Conference
On March 27, Spencerville church (Silver Spring, Md.) resumed indoor worship for the first time in 385 days. Chesapeake Conference’s largest church had been meeting virtually or outdoors since March 14, 2020.
“The church works best when we serve together, gather in small groups, and worship corporately,” says Chad Stuart, senior pastor for the Spencerville church. “Today was a great blessing to expand that third element.”
190 attendees and volunteers attended the “welcome home” service which featured prayers and songs of thanksgiving.
The special service also featured the baptism of Elizabeth Amaya, who began taking Bible studies online during the pandemic. Amaya became interested in learning about Adventist beliefs because of positive experiences with Adventists throughout her life. Those positive experiences started at age 17, when she was taken in by an Adventist family after being kicked out of her home. Years later, while working at a Bank of America, she befriended an Adventist co-worker who she greatly admired. After she got married, Amaya sent her kids to Spencerville Adventist Academy because her step-child loved attending the school. This past year, when Amaya sensed something was missing from her life, she contacted the Spencerville church because of all her positive experiences with Adventists.
“It’s just a reminder that the church is not a building or an event,” says Stuart. “The church is the family that took Elizabeth in as a 17-year-old, it is the co-worker at Bank of America, it is the teachers at our Adventist schools, it is a member willing and faithful to study the Bible with a stranger–that is the church. When it works right, people commit their lives to Jesus.”
Matthew Piersanti, who joined the Spencerville staff last fall as youth and young adults pastor, was able to worship in person with his new congregation for the first time on March 27.
“The reopening of Spencerville was like a family reunion celebration,” says Piersanti. “There was a sense of warmth, joy, and community that was deeply appreciated.”
After the service, guests were able to fellowship outside and enjoy pre-packaged cupcakes and drinks.
“I just couldn’t stop smiling,” says Lisa Froelich, Spencerville church member and band teacher at Spencerville Adventist Academy. “It’s like we’ve been away from home for so long. I’m just so happy to be back.”