More than 200 people attended the Saturday night banquet, the musical program, or one of the Sunday morning worship services – and 80 of those attended both Saturday and Sunday events. What a joy to spend time with former pastors: James Rivers, Carol Hackbardt, Paul and Cindi Armstrong, Gary and Mary Jo Swanson, and Steve and Caroline Polster – plus the surprise appearance of Gary Holmes, one of the student pastors from the New Hope Larger Parish era. It was an honor to have District Superintendent Deborah Thompson present on Saturday night, and Bishop Hee-Soo Jung preaching and participating in all of the special weekend events.

We were blessed to be served during our banquet by two pastors, Rev. Ebenezer Insor and Rev. Robert Yarborough, plus twelve other volunteers from UMC Circuit Churches in Burlington, Caldwell, English Settlement, and Union Grove. They hand-washed all the dishes used by 155 banquet attendees!!

“Sharing God’s Love – A Sentimental Journey” was the theme for the musical program. The title and words of the songs chosen by each musical group had very special meaning for our anniversary celebration. Rhythm & Praise sang “We Are Not Alone” (God is with us) and “Upon This Rock” (We’ll build a church). The 20-voice Chancel Choir sang (Welcome Home – This is a) “House of Grace”. For the finale, the choir was joined by the 10-voice K.I.C.K. Choir (Kids In Christ’s Kingdom) for the meaningful “Let Us Celebrate” (the journey which has brought us here today). Photos of our parents, grandparents, and beloved members of the congregation who have passed away were shown on the monitors as “I’m On My Way Home” was sung by the Hims of Harmony.

An important part of the event was the dedication of the bell tower on Sunday morning. It was raining quite hard at 10:00 am, but that didn’t keep Bishop Hee-Soo Jung inside. He led us all outside to the bell tower, and began singing, “This is the day which the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” He stretched his hand to touch one of the tower’s supporting legs, while holding an umbrella, and blessed and dedicated the bell tower. The gathered assembly was happy to hear the bell ring multiple times – after being in storage for 18 years since 1999.

The celebration included a historical memorabilia display. Many documents, programs, photographs, bulletins, hymnals and Bibles were arranged throughout the church. The lighted display case in the narthex contains several sets of dishes used for church dinners through the years, plus aprons and cookbooks. In the Blessing Room, there were four easels with displays of newspaper clippings dating as far back as the 1960’s, documenting the stories of the membership and the church. Mark Hancock of Seattle, WA created a display about the Mullion Church in Cornwell, England – which the founders of our church left to sail to America and settle in Yorkville. A slide show was created with over 500 photos on 295 slides, and background music by some of the musical groups of the church, plus familiar choir anthems and favorite hymns. Two large scrapbooks contain all the photos included in the slide show and a DVD of the slide show is available. A 111-page book titled “We’ve A Story To Tell” is also available. It contains faith stories submitted by 31 members, YUMC remembrances from 13 former pastors, fun and funny memories, and an update of church history.

Submitted by Carol Knight, Chair of the 175th Anniversary Task Force