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200 years of community worship

DeWitt Community Church turns 200, looks ahead to 'Century Three'

The DeWitt Community Church congregation and pastoral staff pose for a picture following 10:45 a.m. worship on Sunday, Oct. 23.

The DeWitt Community Church congregation and pastoral staff pose for a picture following 10:45 a.m. worship on Sunday, Oct. 23. Photos by Fine

— He spoke of the church’s historically innovative tendency and its ability think outside the box and be “way ahead of the curve,” before stressing the church’s historically powerful role in the entire Syracuse area. He remarked briefly on the church’s capital improvement plan, now in development, before outlining the philosophy and goals of the ministry moving forward.

“We are a Christ-centered congregation … and we will be a church focused on community,” he said. “Community, after all, is our middle name, and we want to be a place where people are connected and cared for, and a community that has a huge, huge welcome mat out front. We [have always been a church that is] focused on worship, and we will honor the traditions of the past, and at the same time we’ll expand on what we offer and develop new services that are better able to connect with the current culture. We will be a multi-generational church, and we will work hard at breaking down silos that separate children and youth and adults and senior adults. We want to be a church where every age range finds a home and learns from each other. You know, on a typical Sunday we have 80 to 100 youth and children here in this building. We don’t see them. We gotta fix that.”

Sommers said the church will be one that teaches scripture, but “not in some narrow ridged kind of way, where questions and even disagreements are put off. No, we honor those. That’s the DNA of this church.”

The Rev. Mark Sommers and associate ministers David and Erika Van Brakle were installed during a service celebrating their leadership Sunday, Oct. 2. Kay Paulsen, a musician-turned-director of congregational care and compassion ministries, was also licensed as lay minister. The DeWitt Community Church is composed of nearly 2,000 members, and is a self-governing congregation of Christians from many social and faith backgrounds.

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