170-year-old church thrives in Little Meadows

170-year-old church thrives in Little Meadows

From left, Pastor Paul Reed and church trustee Duane Horton stand inside the 170-year-old Little Meadows United Methodist Church, located at 843 Pennsylvania Ave. in Little Meadows, Pa. Church members and regular attendees participate in several church functions, and take pride in serving the community through outreach initiatives.

170-year-old church thrives in Little Meadows

The Little Meadows United Methodist Church, located at 843 Pennsylvania Ave. in Little Meadows, Pa. was first charted in 1844 and built in 1845. Still a central gathering place in the community 170 years later, the church describes itself as “a small church with a big heart” and is attended by approximately 50 people on a weekly basis.

Original settlers of Little Meadows, Pa., some who came to the region as early as 1809, established a longstanding structure that has welcomed generations of families. Their small country church first chartered in 1844 and built in 1845, is still a central community-gathering place 170 years later.

The Little Meadows United Methodist Church (UMC), located at 843 Pennsylvania Ave. in Little Meadows, Pa., is a small congregation compared to most churches. Yet, with approximately 50 members and others who attend weekly services, their ongoing generosity is part of the appeal of their “small church with a big heart.”

One of the most significant contributions of the Little Meadows UMC is the donations that are distributed from their food pantry. Since 2011, the church food pantry helps up to 70 families per month. Considering census data in 2010 recorded the population of Little Meadows as 273 people, reaching out to 70 families, including other Susquehanna County areas, is notable.

Pastor Paul Reed, who began his tenure at the Little Meadows UMC in the summer of 2011, commented about the food pantry, “Some people have left in tears overwhelmed with what we have done for them.”

Little Meadows UMC draws people not just from Little Meadows and northeast Pennsylvania, but also from the neighboring southern tier of New York.

Cheryl McCauley, of Johnson City, N.Y., has family ties to the church, and is an active committee member as well as helps with church functions. McCauley’s father, Charlie Allen, was one of many church members instrumental in keeping the church thriving for decades, and the wooden cross he made still stands today in the church chancel.

170-year-old church thrives in Little Meadows

Kaeleigh Russell of Montrose, Pa. participated in the annual Easter egg hunt on Sunday, March 29 at the Little Meadows United Methodist Church, an event co-hosted by the Little Meadows Volunteer Fire Department. Kaeleigh received a special prize for finding two baskets full of eggs. (Photos by JoAnn R. Walter)

Within the church, the original sanctuary still exists and it is believed that the stained glass windows are original as well. Installed in 1865, the church bell remains in the spire as it did 150 years ago, and a parsonage was built in 1892. Since then, several inside renovations have been completed from the mid 1970’s through the early 1990’s, which included restoring the sanctuary to a “historically correct” paint color scheme. In coordination with the church’s sesquicentennial celebration in 1994, Little Meadows UMC updated accessibility for the disabled, added new steps with handrails and a sidewalk at the outside entrance, as well as landscaping improvements.

Not surprisingly, the congregation has completed a majority of the renovations. Today’s Little Meadows UMC may be modernized with a sound system and other amenities, but it also retains its small country church charm.

With community outreach as a primary goal, Pastor Reed shared, “We all truly care about each other and the community.”

This year’s Easter egg hunt held on Palm Sunday, March 29, a combined effort with the Little Meadows Volunteer Fire Department, is an annual event open to the public, and drew a number of local children and families, as well as others from outside the area. The church also hosts an annual rummage sale, ice cream social, special Christmas programs, among other events, and several other separate activities are organized by the women’s group at the church.

Apalachin, N.Y. resident, Duane Horton, a church trustee, credits Pastor Reed with helping bring new life back into the Little Meadows UMC. When the church faced closure in 2011 following a break from the Apalachin UMC, Reed shared that he recognized “pockets of faith” still evident, and instead credits a faithful group of people, many of whom have attended the church their entire life, some 50 years or more.

In addition to his role as Pastor, Reed is a Biology teacher at Chenango Valley high school, where he has taught for 28 years, and is a busy parent along with his wife, Sherri, to three children attending college, two daughters and a foster daughter.

The Little Meadows UMC will hold a sunrise service at Waterman Center in Apalachin, N.Y. starting at 6:30 a.m. on Easter Sunday, April 5, followed by a 9 a.m. Easter worship at the church. For more information, the Little Meadows UMC can be found on Facebook.