By Bera Dunau Staff Writer
---- — Fly Creek
The Fly Creek United Methodist Church has a new pastor and an upgrade to the front of its building.
Established in 1835, the church has been active for nearly 200 years.
This spring, the church began a renovation of its front, which included landscaping and an upgrade of its wheelchair access ramp. The renovation was made possible in large part by the volunteer efforts of parishioners.
“We’re really blessed to have Tim Gill ... in our congregation,” said administrative board chairwoman Julie Huntsman.
Gill, a landscape designer, donated the plans for the landscaping and supervised the approximately 10 volunteers who did the work. Materials for the project were provided at a discount by Bruce Hall. Technical expertise on upgrading the ramp was provided by engineer John McManus.
The work began in May, was completed in July and cost the church around $6,000.
“It’s just absolutely lovely,” said Huntsman of the landscaping. “(It) came to life in full flower very quickly.”
The church still requires some roofing work, as well as the installation of a sidewalk.
The church got its new minister in July.
Pastor Sharon Rankins-Burd, who also serves as the pastor for the Methodist church in Schuyler Lake, replaced Pastor Tom Pullyblank, who served as Fly Creek’s minister for 12 years. Now the pastor of the Methodist church in Sidney, Pullyblank and his wife still live in Fly Creek.
On the renovation, dedicated shortly after she arrived, Rankins-Burd said, “It’s beautiful and very much in keeping both with the character of the church and the character of the community.”
Rankins-Burd and Huntsman both noted the central role that the Fly Creek United Methodist Church plays in the community.
“The church has this open-door policy; they are open to groups from the community who want to use their space for meetings,” Rankins-Burd said.
She noted that the church hosts a farmers’ market, is a central location for the bookmobile and Meals on Wheels, and is the meeting place for a yoga class and a quilting club. Huntsman said the church also hosts the Fly Creek Philharmonic, a musical variety show typically held in late March, and holds a fundraiser featuring Indian food every year.
“Everyone has been so welcoming and so gracious,” Rankins-Burd said.
The church will be hosting a quilt show Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“I have seen some of these quilts; they are just stunning,” Rankins-Burd said. One of the quilts will be put up for a silent auction.
Another event will be held Sept. 29, when the church will host a blessing of the animals.
“You bring it, I’ll bless it,” Rankins-Burd said, adding she was prepared to bless spiders and lizards, in addition to the usual cats and puppies.