In photo above, Shanda Spink, left, checks out the free information and games for her children, which were handed out by Norma Coleman, center, and Rita Smith at a community picnic sponsored by the Oakfield Community Bible Church Tuesday evening.
OAKFIELD – With a new pastor and determination to grow their congregation, the Oakfield Community Bible Church is embarking on a program of community involvement.
“Our main objective is to reach out to the community, invite them in and share with them the good news,” said the new pastor, Jack McMullen, at a church picnic Tuesday evening, to which the community was invited.
McMullen didn’t always want to be a pastor, he said. When he was 17 growing up in Gates, he had a scholarship to Colgate Rochester Divinity School, but he asked why he would want to be a pastor when they didn’t make any money.
“My father was an engineer, so I went to Rochester Institute of Technology, Monroe Community College and the University of Rochester,” McMullen said. “At the end of a 38-year career, I was project engineer for Jones Chemical. But when they moved their corporate headquarters to Sarasota, Fla., I was out of a job.”
He became very distressed, he said.
“Then one night at 3 a.m., a voice woke me and said, ‘Are you going to listen to me now,’ ” McMullen said.
He told his father-in-law, who was a pastor, and he helped McMullen get into seminary in Richmond, Va. That was 17 years ago.
He served in several assignments during those years, including 10 years as chaplain at the Thruway truck stop on Route 77.
He is still pulpit supply for the Independent Baptist Church in four Western New York counties. That means when a congregation is without its pastor for a time (vacation, illness, sabatical) or if a church doesn't have a pastor, a "free-agent" preacher is called in as needed.
As a former music minister at the Oakfield church, he knew the former pastor Ken Comer, so when Comer left, it was the perfect opportunity for McMullen to step in.
The congregation of Oakfield Community Bible Church was formed in 2010 after members of the Presbyterian Church left in protest of new beliefs supported by the Presbytery. The new congregation, under the leadership of Pastor Bill Smith, met at the Oakfield Rod and Gun Club, and then at the Oakfield Fire Hall.
“When the Presbytery put the church up for sale, we came back and bought it,” said Rita Smith, of Darien, an elder of the current church.
They were able to purchase the building for $50,000, plus $5,000 for all its contents.
During the period of turmoil, part of the old congregation did a lot of renovations, Smith said, adding that they are fortunate that although their congregation is small, they have a lot of “doers” and “givers.”
McMullen said they are growing, but slowly. Their goal is to increase their outreach in the community to make the church more visible.
Tuesday’s picnic was an example of that outreach. A Vendor Blender later in summer is another, as well as a harvest dinner in the fall for anyone who wants to come. At Christmas, the church plans to fill gift bags for residents of School House Manor.
Taking part in Tuesday’s picnic was Paul Ohlson, of Batavia, and his Care-A-Van team, who cooked hamburgers. The Care-a-Van Band played music, while Judy Piscitello sang. Church member Norma Coleman greeted families and handed out games and crafts for children to do, while their parents enjoyed fellowship.
McMullen is also part of the Care-A-Van team, he said.
Worship at Oakfield Community Bible Church is at 10 a.m. Sundays. There is Bible study at 7 p.m. Wednesdays all year and at 10 a.m. Thursdays, except during July and August.
The church is located at 82 North Main St.
In photo below, Care-a-Van Ministries brought their van and band to a picnic Tuesday at Oakfield Community Bible Church to welcome its new pastor Jack McMullen.