WARRENSBURG - Known as a congregation with a big heart, the parishioners of the United Methodist Church of Warrensburg are now seeking a new pastor.
Dawn Robbins, who was the minister of the church for 14 years, was reassigned in July to lead the Hudson Falls United Methodist Church.
The Warrensburg congregation is awaiting the action of the Troy Conference is assigning them a new pastor. In the meantime, 20 lay leaders in the Warrensburg church are presenting sermons on Sundays in their own parish, as well as in neighboring churches with no permanent pastor - including the United Methodist churches in Lake George and North River.
These three churches, like many in the Adirondacks, have been struggling with shrinking membership at a time their expenses are increasing.
Despite losing about one-third of its membership in recent decades, the Warrensburg United Methodist Church is dedicated to helping others, parishioners said Sunday.
"The mission outreach of this church is huge compared to the number of its members," church lay leader Linda Harrington said.
Dozens of its members regularly raise donations to help people in need from the southern Adirondacks to overseas, church official Jamiee Ross said.
They raise funds and donations for the Christian outreach Samaritan's Purse, Big Brothers-Big Sisters, and the New York Methodist Hospital in Brooklyn. They work on Habitat for Humanity projects, and raise funds for Nothing But Nets, which provides mosquito netting for people in underdeveloped countries to protect them from the ravages of malaria.
Locally, the Methodists provide local school children with school supplies, help out families during the holidays through Adopt-A-Family and raise funds for North Country Ministry, primarily through the Warrensburg church's chapter of the United Methodist Women.
This group also raises money for the Red Bird Mission in Kentucky, an outreach helping people attain sustainable livelihoods in Appalachia.
Organized outreach efforts aren't all of it. They also occasionally help transients who stop in and say they need help to get to their destinations.
This past Sunday, another manifestation of the Methodists' giving attitude was apparent.
The Methodists welcomed Rev. Vincent Samuel, pastor of Calvary Community Church of Chennai, southern India, to their parish. Samuel administers a medical, educational, job-training and spiritual outreach to the downtrodden in the Chennai region.
Samuel explained his church's outreach, but left unspoken any potential appeals for money, choosing instead to lead the congregation in praise and communion.
No opportunity to help others seems to get past these Methodists. Their families save soup labels, and their children collect beverage pop tops, to raise funds for those in need.
Ross said all these outreach efforts were viewed by the local Methodist parishioners as a matter of conscience and commitment.
"It doesn't matter that we're now fewer in numbers," she said. "We've hung on to the old traditions of helping people in need."