New Life Fellowship, in New Columbia, is a church that's living out its name.
Formerly New Columbia Community Church, members of the congregation started attending Grace Life Fellowship, in Williamsport, in the fall of 2011. They now have returned to their hometown to start their ministry anew with fresh purpose and an emphasis on the New Covenant given by God through Jesus Christ.
"They contacted us to see if we could help them almost two years ago," said the Rev. Pete Whipple, one of three people from Grace Life Fellowship who is helping New Life enter its new era. "We concluded that we could help them, if they wanted to become a part of our ministry. By that time there were maybe half a dozen adults left (at New Columbia). They spent the next year and nine months learning with us, what our philosophy of church life is and so forth."
Tim Renno, of Montandon, started attending New Columbia Community Church in 2001.
"Our previous pastor had health problems and retired," he said. "We found these people in Williamsport, and now part of that group is with us in New Columbia. We now have a sister church with the same beliefs, that's what we are part of."
Whipple is one of six people from the FIRM In Christ church planting team, originally from northern New Jersey, which founded Grace Life three years ago and also has started churches in Michigan and New Jersey.
"When they closed down Sunday meetings and started meeting with us in Williamsport, the idea was always if they wanted to become part of our ministry to go back down with them to New Columbia and try to restart the church. In the beginning of April, half of our team, along with the five families from New Columbia, came back down and started fresh. Everyone thought the (new) name better reflected what they'd been learning from us: we understood this was a New Life from the gospel. We're making a go of it right now; we've had a few visitors checking us out, and we're doing some pretty aggressive outreach."
Renno said his church is a place for people who haven't found somewhere they're comfortable yet.
"It's a good place for someone to go who is lonely in the church. We don't solicit people from other churches who are happy in their church, but if you're unhappy, try us out."
The time with Grace Life made Renno investigate many of his beliefs, he said.
"It made me re-examine my life, because I was making judgements where I shouldn't have been. I was always quick to judge someone else, based on what they did, how they acted, what I thought they thought - I see now that was wrong."
Some differences in the way that New Life meets includes no collections, no titles and no formality. It holds a singing and sharing service on Sunday mornings at 10 a.m. at the Grange Hall at 233 Third St. The service is followed by a break for refreshments, then a teaching session at 11 a.m. It also has small group meetings in homes.
For more information on New Life Fellowship, contact the Revs. Pete and Michele Whipple at 838-3089 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.