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Snow Closes Churches, New Joy Members Worship By Phone

By Faith Crumbly


Although homebound in West Virginia due to stormy weather, Jeri and Ron Pride’s family worshipped and rejoiced on New Joy Fellowship’s telephone conference line.

Even though a snowstorm recently shut the doors of many area churches members of Allegheny East Conference’s New Joy Fellowship in Hagerstown, Md., still gathered to worship. They did so by dialing in on the church conference line that Denise Johnson, Personal Ministries director, set up just one week earlier. Her assistant, Faith Crumbly, joined hands with June Jones, the Sabbath School superintendent, to spread a net of phone connections through the tri-state area. New Joy had nearly 100 percent attendance on line by 11 a.m. Homebound guests from another Adventist Church also dialed in.

Members’ voices reverberated over the phone line to the accompaniment of recorded music linked to the conference line by Joyce Johnson, associate Family Ministries director and an online college instructor. David Distan, head elder, joined with local elders, Wayne Martin, Edward Crumbly, and William Royster, to lead members in prayers and testimonies. Denise Johnson gave the devotional thought.

One member confided, “I wondered how we would meet when church doors are permanently closed. God is so creative!”

Another member declared, “Rather than just reading alone at home, next time we’ll get on [the phone] for Sabbath School, too.”

New Joy pastor Kenneth Anderson was tending to his second church in Frederick, Md., on that Sabbath. He applauded New Joy’s announcement in the Antietam Cable Company’s radio, television, and Internet listings of church closings. These spread the word about New Joy’s Saturday morning services and afternoon programs and also alerted the community to members’ door-to-door outreach: distribution of fruit, bread, and devotional books.