Janesville65.2°

Common goals, needs help congregations bond

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Catherine W. Idzerda
November 4, 2007
— The cross at the Milton United Methodist Church is more than a symbol of Christian belief.

It’s a symbol of a community’s ability to go forward, to rise above petty battles over the way things “used to be done” and the nostalgia for former church homes.


It’s also a symbol of the creativity and hard work of community members.


At 9 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 11, the church community will celebrate the official opening of its new church at 241 Northside Drive.


The story of the church and cross started more than ten years ago when First United Methodist and Faith United Methodist decided to form one congregation.


Consolidating two churches is never an easy. Members get attached to buildings, remembering—or misremembering—the “good old days,” when the pews were full and the church was the center of people’s lives.


“One of the important things to remember is that churches are made up of people,” said the Rev. Patrick Schultz, who has been serving the congregation since July 1. “Bringing two churches together is like bringing two families together; they have certain way of doing things. They have likes and dislikes.”


The joined congregations met at the Methodist Church on Second Street. Land for the new church was purchased, but plans were sidelined as the two groups worked to become one.


Under the leadership of interim minister the Rev. Wesley White, the community came together and was able break ground Nov. 5, 2006.


“I can’t applaud him enough,” Schultz said. “I came into a church that’s thinking forward, not thinking backward.”


While the construction was going on outside, the worship committee was working on the building’s interior.


Montie Yeager was on the committee, and he suggested a lighted box with cross as a focal point for the altar. As it usually happens, the person who makes the suggestion gets the job.


Yeager’s wife, Bonnie, created a design and after committee approval, the couple went to work.


Montie had taught cabinet making and woodworking, and the couple had previously made a stained glass window—but that was the sum of their experience.


“Sometimes we’re just too stupid to know when we can’t do something,” Bonnie joked.


They started in the garage, and then moved into the house when the summer’s heat got to be too much for the retired couple.


The design includes a dove descending with an olive branch in its mouth. Yeager said the dove symbolizes the two churches coming together.


More than 200 pieces of colored glass were used, and the finished work is about 6-feet-high by 3-feet-wide.


“We weren’t in it for the notoriety, we were just glad we were able to do it,” Montie said.


Ironically, the Yeagers, who have been attending the church for about two years, didn’t officially become members until the last Sunday in October.


Pastor Schultz believes the new building, with its new cross, will help the congregation live out its faith beyond the walls of the church.


“The church is not the building,” Schultz said. “The church is the people becoming the hands and feet of Christ.”


If you go

What: Grand opening of the Milton United Methodist Church.


Where: At the church, 241 Northside Drive, Milton.


When: Service is at 9 a.m., celebration at 10 a.m., Sunday, Nov. 11.


For more information: Call the church at (608) 868-2860.



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