Welcome to the Methodists United in Faith podcast! We have decided to start this podcast as a way to connect in another way with our congregations and communities. Our podcast will focus on discussing God’s Word and highlighting different parts of our churches. In our first episode below, Senior Pastor Janet Pratt talks about what it looks like to be a part of Methodists United in Faith.

Here are some of the questions we asked Pastor Pratt:

As we start, I would love it if you could just give a little background about yourself? Ho how you came to be a pastor here at Methodists United in Faith?

Well, I am a second career pastor, as they call us. Was an accountant for my previous life, as I say. But God called me for seven years and I kept telling God, no, no, no, but eventually gave in. And so in 2012 is when I really went into the ministry, grew up in the Methodist Church, always active in the leadership of the church, as a lay leader and speaker and things, but officially as a pastor.

In 2012 I answered that call – I could not do it anymore. And it was at an annual conference where the theme was “Dream, a God-sized Dream.” And God said, “Now is the time. Deny me no more.” And here I am. So I went to Methodist Theological School of Ohio in Columbus and got my schooling and served a couple other churches before coming here – Seneca, Harrisville – and now here at Methodists United in Faith.

Can you give us a description of what exactly Methodists United in Faith is, what it is really all about?

Yeah, we are a church charge. So what I say is we have one church and we have five beautiful locations. And so everything is open to everybody in all the churches. And so we have this beautiful gift of diversity from the different communities we are in from Sandy Lake just over to Jackson Center in Hendersonville and up at the Lake. So we have these wonderful communities and we can just share opportunities together and do things together.

We all have specific missions and purposes in our communities, but yet we are one church doing things together and we do a lot of unity events where we just all come together and work together as one church, but yet we still have those roots in those communities. So it’s a unique group. And our goal, our mission, is to Make Jesus Known. So we want people to know that we are alive and well in our communities and are ready to show the love of Christ and show Jesus to people.

You mentioned how you have five different locations. How does that really work? How do you operate five different locations on one Sunday?

Yeah, it’s a challenge. So what we do is I always preach three churches. There are a pastor and a service in every church, every Sunday. And so we start at 8:45 in the morning with the earliest service and the last one at 11:15. And so right now, I don’t have an associate but I have a pulpit supply person and so they preach two services and I preach the other three. So that’s how we make sure that there’s always somebody in the pulpit.

Especially with COVID-19 being a big challenge for churches, how have you adapted to that and what options are there for worship in a pandemic world?

Yeah, we, like most churches, went out of our buildings in March, but we already had an online presence. We’ve been on Facebook live for a couple of years. And so we went to that and then we went to the drive-in church, in the parking lot. Then it got cold and we moved inside. And so you can come to all the churches, they are open for worship on Sunday mornings. Social distancing and wearing a mask are mandatory. And so you can come and worship with us in person or you can follow us online. All the messages are put out on Facebook so that you can hear the word of God from the safety of your home.

I am sure you have a very special congregation. If you could describe them in a couple of words or a few sentences, how would you describe them?

Well, we have babies to 90 plus-year-olds. And so I’ve worked hard to have intergenerational activities so that we are learning from each other and the excitement and the energy builds from that. So for smaller sized churches, we are blessed that we have a lot of young families and kiddos as well as the older generations, which is not always so common in this area in small churches. So we’re unique in the way that we have these beautiful families that come.

Also, the congregations are extremely generous. Whenever there is a need to be met, I know it’s going to be met even if it’s thousands of dollars that somebody needs. I know that our people are going to provide, They are extremely mission-minded, always thinking about others and supporting missionary work. It’s just incredible. I’ve never been in churches that are so giving to others and so mission-minded as these churches are. And the people in these churches are incredible.

Final question for you. What would you say makes you different from other churches in the area?

I think for us, I don’t get hung up on the denomination. I mean, we are United Methodist currently. Who knows when all that goes through. But I tell our people that my goal is for you to know Jesus. That is what is important. It is not that you are United Methodist because we don’t worship the United Methodist Church and John Wesley. We worship Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior. So that is what is most important for us. I think that makes us maybe a little bit different than some of the other denominational churches is because that’s the way I approach is I want you to know Jesus so that you know your salvation.

Also just the fact that I’m really flexible about worship and how we worship and what goes on. And I want to hear what the people want. I want people to come and say to me, hey, this is work and this isn’t working. We have these great conversations and are able to brainstorm and move forward with things. And so I think we approach things more as a team. Trying to move ahead with whatever it might be is that we work together, all of our churches as a team. And that brings in the beauty of diverse ideas and thoughts that we have that others don’t, because we are already one church with five locations. And so we have that difference between all these backgrounds and things to draw from. We can have that diversity within our thought process of how we approach things. So I think that’s our biggest one of our biggest blessings is, is just the diverse locations.

Thank you so much for listening and if you would like to learn more about Methodists United in Faith, tune in to our podcast on Spotify or Apple Music, or find out about us here.