I don’t live very far from the New London United Methodist Church, and it’s always piqued my interest. It’s not one of the churches whose spire you can see from afar, although there is a curious little tower near the entrance. The building almost seems like a visual approximation of the idea that church and state can be separate but still pretty close to one another, as it is adjacent to the Martin Center, G.A. 10 Court, and Office of Adult Probation.
More than anything, it reminded me of the fun I had exploring the hidden corners of my childhood church in Massachusetts. The sanctuary takes up only a fraction of the building, and I found myself thinking back to the time I spent before or after services looking through temporarily deserted parlors and stairways. The sanctuary itself has a layout reminiscent of a baseball field, with the pews in the outfield and the organist, pastor, and two-person choir in the infield. Stained glass windows line the walls and wooden beams arch over the altar.
The most remarkable part of the service was its dedication to a worship theme, which on the Sunday I visited spoke to the idea of faith in a time of financial difficulties. The main idea, as declared by the program: “God is our refuge and strength and God’s sustaining power is not tied to the stock market.” From the prayers to the Scripture lessons to a post-service luncheon/meeting—where members discussed how to deal with anticipated heating bills over the winter—the theme was apparent.
Pastor Tryphena Evans used a lesson from the Book of Mark to illustrate the idea that acts of giving are made impressive not by how big they are but rather their proportion to what one has. She said this is often not carried out in modern society, with people giving only a fraction of their income to charity each year or not leaving any money to such causes in their will.
“We’re not saved by our money,” said Evans. “We’re not saved by how much or how little we have in our bank account. We’re saved by God’s grace.”
The church backs up such words with actions. Evans said the services aim to praise God and give thanks for blessings, but that members also try to help out those in need. Regular collections benefit the New London Homeless Hospitality Center and Gemma E. Moran United Way Food/Labor Center, while school supplies are also gathered for students in the New London Public Schools.
Roy Sebastian, who has attended the New London United Methodist Church for 35 to 40 years, said the church has been in its current location for about 25 years after moving from the current site of the New London Superior Court; he said the congregation itself has been meeting in New London for about 250 years. He said he enjoyed the fellowship and connections made in the small congregation.
“Everybody helps one another,” he said. “We do a lot of mission work here and abroad.”
Jim Campbell, a 15-year member, had a similar reason for enjoying the church.
“I like the people, the fellowship,” he said. “I like that it’s a small church. Everybody knows one another.”
Ruth Ledderhose, who has been part of the church for 27-28 years, said she is active in the choir and other church activities. She said the church has helped her through a number of hardships, including the death of several family members.
“If I didn’t have the good Lord to get me through these things, I wouldn’t by here myself,” she said.
Services at the New London United Methodist Church begin at 11 a.m. on Sundays.