The congregation of the East Brady United Methodist Church gathered Saturday afternoon in a special service to celebrate its founding 150 years ago.
The majority of the service was spent hearing from previous ministers who served at the church as they reminisced about their tenure and experiences.
Pastor Kate Karaba has only been the church’s minister since June. She said it was the caring attitude of the congregation that edged her out of retirement and back into ministry.
“When my granddaughter came in and she said ‘Grandma, they are so nice”, that said it all, Karaba said. “The people at these churches (East Brady and Sligo) are wonderful. And they have given me the courage to go on again. I was retired for several years and it gave me the courage to just keep on doing what I did before and I’m loving it.”
Karaba replaced Pastor Lola Turnbull, who served the church from 2017 until June 2019. Turnbull said she was proud of the Sunday School structure.
“I love to see all the children and all the adults that are involved in a way that doesn’t happen in a lot of places. The children are from different families; sometimes they are shared across families. Our teachers here every single week adapt. Sometimes there are two kids; sometime there are 15. Just to see the joy of the teachers and the kids and the excitement that comes on into worship is special to me,” Turnbull said.
Pastor Rick Russell is now serving a Methodist church in Brush Valley, Indiana County. He pastured East Brady from 2002 until 2011.
“My experience at this church was one of overwhelming love,” Russell reflected. “There was just constant love from these folks. They were willing to step up. I remember when there were some needs in the community and these people stepped up. Everybody says little churches don’t do anything – but this little church stepped up and provided for people that were in need every time. They set up the food bank. They set up the help with people that had no furniture. That is one of the best experiences – watching this church do things that only it could do.”
Pastor Chuck Hildbold is now serving a church in Jennerstown, PA. However, in 1985 when he arrived in East Brady as a new husband and minister, he said the congregation “nurtured” him. Because of his youthfulness, he had the pleasure of being involved in the church’s youth group.
“We really had a lot of kids in the youth group,” Hildbold remembers. “We went to Creation and often partnered with some of the other churches in town. I got to play the piano a lot so we had a lot of music. We did play a game called ‘tuna’ which the kids always loved, that is basically hide-and-go-seek in the church in the dark. And, I married a lot of the youth group kids that were here so that’s always nice to be able to look at them and say ‘Hey, I married them and they have kids now.’ This was home for a long time. They nurtured a young guy that really didn’t know what he was doing and they were really kind, really great.”
Member Jim Corbett, who said he was nine years old when the cornerstone of the existing church building was laid in 1950, took items from the time capsule and presented them to the congregation. The Reverend Russell C. Moore was the minister at that time.
Inside the time capsule was several Bibles, a wooden church replica that were sold when the church was built as souvenirs, and a brass cylinder that held the complete hand-written listing of the membership rolls at the time the church was built.
He read off many of the names, which included the families of the Shays, Stanleys, Kings, Prestons, Murphys, Abernathys, Vasbinders, Rottman, McKinneys, Whites, Fraisers, Hogans, Miles, Montgomerys, and many more including Austin and Sadie Miller.
“When I was young, Austin and Sadie were the custodians of the church. And they were strict. They didn’t let you do much of anything!”
Corbett reflected on the life of member Melda Montgomery.
“She was a blind lady. They told us that she was not born blind, but as a youngster, a doctor put the wrong drops in her eyes that took her vision. When I was a young fella in high school, I worked at the Chevy garage here and Melda would always come in to see the new cars. Now she was totally blind. She would rub her hands over the fenders. They would open the doors and let her feel the upholstery. ‘Oh my, that’s beautiful’ she would say. I remember her standing here at the pulpit with a very thick large Braille Bible. She read it like you would read from a printed page. When Sally and I were first married, we lived in Butler. We always didn’t get home to come to church. No matter how little we got here, I would walk into church on Sunday morning and say, ‘Good morning Melda’ and she would say ‘Hi Jim!’ She knew me right away.”
Corbett said the congregation was very aggressive at paying off the current structure built in 1950 by having various sales and donations.
“I would come home from school and my mother would say, ‘Don’t touch that cake – it’s going to a bake sale at the church!’ Corbett recalled. “The church was built for $75,000. It was paid for in full within five years.”
Pastor Hildbold’s wife, Cheryl, an accomplished vocalist, shared a song with the congregation near the conclusion of the service. Pastor Karaba had the congregation sing “Pass It On” and “How Great Thou Art”. Pastor Turnbull lead the congregation in a participation song and prayed the benediction.
To contact the church, call 724-526-5646 or email: EastBradySligoUMCs@gmail.com