One couple, two churches and a plan for harmony
By Brittany Wait
Pastors David and Sandra Mantz outside Setauket United Methodist Church, where Sandra is the new pastor. David Mantz is the new pastor at Port Jefferson United Methodist Church.
Two local United Methodist churches were in need of pastors so a couple from Wappingers Falls moved into the East Setauket community. For the Rev. David Mantz, the new pastor for the First United Methodist Church of Port Jefferson and his wife, the Rev. Sandra Mantz, the new pastor for the Setauket United Methodist Church, their first services were last Sunday. Sandra Mantz’s service was focused on having hope for the future, but tying in the importance of Independence Day.
“Our styles complement each other, so being in different parishes will be good because we’ll work together,” Sandra Mantz said inside her new church. “We have visions for putting certain programs together and youth groups.”
A member of the Port Jefferson First United Methodist Church for 11 years, Clif Brown said the reason these two pastors — and others like them — are moved to other churches is because “the Methodist Church has a certain calling for attributes in pastors and all congregations to experience all they can the value of each pastor.”
In the Port Jefferson church’s 176-year history, the Rev. Huibing He was its longest pastor, serving for 11 years. Now it’s David Mantz’s turn.
The New York Annual Conference, the regional unit of United Methodist churches on Long Island, New York City, Connecticut and part of upstate, get together and determine which churches could use a new pastor. They then match pastors to different churches based on the needs of that particular church, said Brown, chairman of the Port Jefferson church finance committee.
The Methodist couple didn’t just come by themselves. They brought their three children: Emily, 12, Elizabeth, 11, and Wayne, 10. Their parents say they will join in at youth events at both Methodist churches, but will attend Sunday service with their mother at her church in Setauket.
Sue Steares has been a member of the Setauket United Methodist Church for 25 years and has been looking forward to the presence of a new pastor. “We’re so excited because she has such a strong spiritual direction,” Steares said.
Sandra Mantz grew up in an evangelical church and was nurtured at a young age by her family to serve God. Different from his wife, David Mantz veered off from religion, but later went looking for God on his own.
“If it wasn’t for the faith I had as a child, and my parents bringing me to church then I wouldn’t have never known what to go back to,” he said.
They met at Black Rock Congregational Church in Fairfield, Conn., during a fellowship and were friends for 10 years, best friends for the next five and married in May 1997.
In her earlier years, Sandra Mantz didn’t plan to be a pastor until she reached her mid-30s. Along the way, she worked with college students and attended Yale Divinity School. There, she met southern Methodists with “a real passion for Jesus.” That’s why she became a Methodist in the 1990s.
When talking about what she has to offer her church, Sandra Mantz said that she would like to be a beacon of hope.
“We live in times that are tough,” she said. “You hear that people are getting laid off and people are sick. Realize that God offers something that will give us a future, hope, peace and community.”
Her husband graduated with an MBA from Adelphi, but following jobs in computers and insurance he retired after 15 years because he went to study at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts and graduated in 1999.
“God doesn’t always tell you what is in store for you, because it’s better that way,” he said. “Sometimes, I think if we knew what would happen we would run.”
By Alix Kunkle; Leesville, LA
A local church has started a program aiming to provide a hot meal to those who need one, or to provide a place where people looking for someone to talk to can do just that.
The First United Methodist Church in Leesville began the Friendship Feast earlier this year as a way to help provide a hot meal for anyone who would like one as well as to encourage people to talk with one another and strengthen companionship between them.
The feast is free of charge, and people do not have to be members of the church to attend.
Members of the church who help to maintain the dinner said that their goal is just to help people.
“We just want a large crowd to serve, especially those who are in need,” Lizzie Shepherd of the First United Methodist Church, said. “We just want to provide friendship and fellowship.”
The feast is held in the church’s lower level and is organized and assisted by church volunteers. Shepherd said that the church welcomes both families and individuals to the Friendship Feast.
The church started the feast in February, Shepherd said. She said that attendance was low at first, but has been rising steadily since.
“The first night we had this, we had zero,” Shepherd said. “Now we’re up to about 25 a week.” A recent Thursday saw attendance reach 37, a new high, she said.
“Last week we had to add two tables because we had so many people,” Shepherd said.
She also said that a number of different organizations help run the dinner every week; usually there are five to six volunteers from each group, and that everybody plans something different.
“We’ve only had one meal twice,” she said. “It’s always something different.”
Shepherd said that the dinner has no ties to the church, and that it is more about serving the people who attend.
“There’s no preaching or singing or collection,” she said. “It’s just a chance to sit down and have a good meal.”
The feast is held at 5:30 p.m. every Thursday at 202 North Fifth St. in Leesville.
Darien UMC Lends a Hand to Disadvantaged Homeowners
Submitted by the Darien United Methodist Church:
Adults and youth members of the Darien United Methodist Church spent the last week of June in Williamsport, Pennsylvania performing community outreach services. Participating in the United Methodist Action Reach-out Mission by Youth (“U.M. Army”) program, tasks included painting, cleaning and repairing homes of the underprivileged and handicapped of this western Pennsylvania community.
These Darien adults and youth worked and interacted with members of six other churches from Connecticut, Vermont, Massachusetts, Maine, and New Jersey.
Adults were chosen to supervise teams of middle school and high school aged youths. Each team was tasked with projects which sought to alleviate hardships among the residents of Williamsport. Members of the Darien group worked on homes that needed repair, and whose homeowners were unable to fulﬁll these repairs due to their health, physical handicap, or ﬁnancial situation. Collectively, all the 132 participants in the U.M. Army program completed 62 different client sites during the week. Some client site projects took one afternoon, while others took the entire week.
In addition to the community work, U.M. Army participants also engaged in daily worship and spiritual growth activities. This was the ﬁrst year that the Darien United Methodist Church participated in the program, and based upon the reaction of the youth, they are already planning next yearʼs U.M. Army mission trip.
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