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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Calendar > Arts and Culture

‘The Little Church With a Big Heart':

St. Andrew's Episcopal celebrates centennial

By Sharon Space-Bamberger - reporter/photographer

Sharon Space-Bamberger | Democrat
From the left, the Rev. Diana S. Scheide, Cynthia Johnston, Louise Clairmont (longest living member), Linda Goldstein, The Rev. Canon David Lee Carlson, Brendan Briggs, and The Right Rev. Allen K. Shin, Suffragan Bishop of New York, spoke of the history of the venerable church before the service began.
On May 30, The Right Rev. Allen K. Shin, Suffragan Bishop of New York, assisted by the Rev. Canon David Lee Carlson and the Rev. Diana S. Scheide, celebrated Mass at St.
Andrew's Episcopal Church of South Fallsburg. The service, honoring the church's one-hundredth year. was followed by a reception in the undercroft.
St. Andrew's Centennial Celebration Bulletin gave a special welcome to Bishop Shin, noting, “We are so blessed that he could be with us to preach and celebrate on this historic occasion which is also a new beginning.”
Bishop Shin said, “I am honored to take part in the celebration of this ‘little church with the big heart' on its one-hundredth anniversary.”
In his sermon, the Bishop spoke of “The church survey industry, which shows a decline in church membership. St. Andrews does not need statistics and surveys. You are an important part of what surveys don't show. This church is about witnessing about Jesus in a small community. Today, we celebrate the dedication of this church. It is not about the building! It's about the people who sacrificed so much. A building can be a blessing and a curse. Think of the high cost of maintenance of some beautiful churches.”
Rev. Shin continued, “Jesus is the foundation rock on which we are to build our house- a spiritual house. It is less about the building than the lives of the people in the community. He told of strategies others have used to “renew their community by networking with this community and going where it is most difficult for the people.
“This little church with the big heart has remained faithful to be such a witness with its food pantry and its classical music ministry,” he continued. “I commend you and thank you for being the wonderful witnesses you are for this broken community. Bless all of you with abundant grace.”
The first services at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church were held in a private home in July of 1912, later services were held in the Fallsburg Fishing & Boating Club. In 1914, the congregation purchased land on Route 42; just one year later the ground under the church was dug out by hand and the undercroft was completed. The church, which has been described as “in the vernacular style of the early Nineteenth Century” was built by the original founders.
That hands-on feeling is still evident today, 100 years later.
The undercroft of the church holds the active food pantry run by Louise Clairmont, who is the “longest living member” of St. Andrew's congregation.
Mrs. Clairmont, who does not reveal her age, says she had been a congregant of the church “Since I was an infant.”
During the service, Rev. Carlson thanked Mrs. Clairmont and presented her with a lovely pot of flowers.
Helping St. Andrew's celebrate were long-time friends, congregants and Priests from The Delaware Catskill Episcopal Ministry which includes St. John's Church in Monticello, St. James Church in Callicoon, and Grace Church in Port Jervis.

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