In this place, an old church and a new church sit side by side. An old Furnace and the first school in this part of the county existed here. Before we left church on this day we were gifted a large piece of slag picked up from the church driveway. The slag was a byproduct of the Furnace here that brought to a local community the many things I have mentioned including the town name of Franklin Furnace.
The old Franklin Furnace was built in 1826 and was fired up in 1827. All others who originally started the Furnace were bought out by a John Gould who as one source said, he made a fortune from its use during the Mexican War. It shut down in 1860 just prior to the Civil War.
Following the church service on this day we were directed to his neat old home located at a location, I will not disclose and not easily accessible. However, if you wish you can go to my blog site at medium.com searching Randy Rucker to view this really unique looking old home! I understand it is going to be brought down in the near future.
I realize the story on this old/new church is getting lengthy but there is so much. Over 140 years worth I understand. We were told that in those old days the people of this church and I guess the people of Franklin Furnace would gather clams (now protected as I understand) and fish from the Ohio River located just below the hill. The entire church and community would come together for a river feast. Bet you haven’t heard that one before!
Long had Beverly and I noticed this old church sitting on the hill of the Greenup Dam exit. We had no idea that it was not only a neat little old church, but it was also the beginning of Franklin Furnace.
So Chris and Stephanie Neff joined Beverly and me on our visit to participate in a service of the Franklin Furnace United Methodist Church. The original church existed down the road at the site of the cemetery one will see just down the hill closer to the Greenup Dam exit. It was drug up to this location probably in the early 1900s. The old logs it was rolled to this site on still exist under the old church.
About six years ago this beautiful new church was built here and a faithful following attend each Sunday. The beautiful interior, a hardwood floor that kept calling my attention and super friendly folks makes it hard to not go back next week. But you know our mission and we must keep seeking out other churches of faith locally!
Pastor Jim Davis who greeted us at the door and his wife Sarah were very enthusiastic about sharing much of the history we learned following the service.
Jeremy Blevins conducted the opening church service taking prayer requests. His prayer didn’t leave out very much as in addition to brought up prayer requests his prayer also reached out requesting support of our military, and guidance to government and emergency personnel.
Then followed The Lord’s Prayer, a responsive reading and an Apostle’s Creed being recited by the congregation. After that, we sang Doxology!
It was time for the offering and following that was a birthday request which Chris Neff and I both responded to as we were facing birthdays in the next few days.
We all very much enjoyed the message Davis shared. He began by saying his message was based on Luke 13 verses 10 to 17.
He explained that we sometimes do things which interfere with the wishes of God.
He told a story about how he once was involved in assisting in the serving of communion in a largely attended church setting. We were told that communion would be served to 55,000 people. Because the communion containers were commercially individually packaged with a cracker and the juice included, it was able to be done in twenty minutes.
Davis pointed out that we often become so distracted in how we serve communion we sometimes forget why we serve communion. Sometimes we serve Christ in our own comfort and understanding.
He once spoke to a Pastor who had visited a small church in Japan. He was trying to figure out why the church was dying. He had found that a missionary had come to the church and taught them everything in English though none of them spoke English. When the missionary left the congregation had nothing. It had become the missionary’s church. He had not taught them how to worship in a way they understood.
The point is we often do things because someone told us to do it a certain way. We must teach others the importance of worshiping in their daily lives, in their own way.
Sometimes we all ask ourselves, why can’t people get along. Sometimes we develop a list of how things are done. Davis told a story I had actually heard before but want to share. It was once said that to properly cook a turkey one must remove the tail before placing it in a cooker.
Upon returning the friend was anxious to learn this great turkey baking secret. He may have been a bit shocked to hear what his cooking buddy had learned and was ready to shyly share, his grandparents always cut off the tail so the turkey would fit in the pan they always used.
The same thing can be true in churches. Sometimes we get tied up with how things are done. Communion can be an example. Churches may debate on what type of bread they use, grape juice or wine. Most churches are different. Some churches have communion weekly and some on special occasions. Today at Franklin Furnace United Methodist Church we experienced communion their way.
Following the traditional prayer and communion message the congregation came forward and ripped a chunk from a large loaf of bread being held by the Pastor. Each person dunking their bread in a glass of grape juice held by a deacon with each person, then eating it immediately as they walked back to their seat.
Churches often come into a discussion over the logistics in their services. In more recent times there are issues such as what types of services will be held such as what type of music, do we go with a contemporary service or a traditional music service? Today some churches offer alternatives. But today’s Pastor offered this advice, “If we do everything out of love it will be good!”
He suggested that we not get hung up on communion bread type or whether the juice is red or white grape juice
Love people and love God! We should not spend our time in worry but in praising God!
He told another story of a theology professor taking a position in a Chicago Seminary. This person had told him that before he could be hired he would have to be rebaptized because he had not been baptized correctly. Some churches sprinkle, some go down to a local creek or even the river bank. Others have inside baptismal tubs!
Pastor Jim pointed out that it is not so much how you were baptized, but that each of us does it with a sincerity to be saved and obey God!
Approaching closing he spent time on the discussion of healing. He said that at times the answers we receive are not the answers we think God should supply. Churches often go to elders to seek the power of healing. But sometimes God heals us in ways we don’t understand. Then there are times when God heals without man’s intervention!
Final healing is in death! What can be better than to be experiencing a new body in the presence of God?
Though Jesus suffered many horrible things in his life his only crime was to have interfered with the religious order of the time going against traditional teachings of the priests and elders. Jesus extended his teaching outside of the synagogues to reach all people. Jesus shared the Gospel wherever he went! Each of us should also share the Gospel in all we do, share the love of Christ. As the Pastor prayed he said, “as we go out of this place let it be that our love for you will shine.” We all need Jesus!
A church couple sang a beautiful closing song called, “Broken Down!”
As believers, let us share the Good News! Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world! Each one ….. reach one! See ya in church!
Reach Randy Rucker at Ohiorancher5@gmail.com.