Groton Assembly of God gets a facelift

Pastor Sam Neno standing in front of one of the renovated spaces in the foyer of Groton Assembly of God, 701 S. Main St.
Pastor Sam Neno standing in front of one of the renovated spaces in the foyer of Groton Assembly of God, 701 S. Main St.
Photo by Linda Competillo

On Sunday, Sept. 29, Groton Assembly of God, 701 S. Main St., welcomes everyone to a very special celebration of what senior pastor, Sam Neno, refers to as “a new chapter in our service to God and to our community.”

There will be two services at 8 and 11 a.m., with a talent show in between at 9:30 a.m., featuring different members of the congregation with a vast array of talents they will share with the audience.

“We will be celebrating the wonderful things that God has done in the last year,” Neno said. “We’re inviting people to come ‘Find What’s Missing’ in their lives.”

It was about a year ago that many members of the church, wide ranging in age, held a series of meetings to discuss their frustrations, what they saw as shortfalls and their dreams for the future of the church. The group developed a lengthy list of changes it wanted to make and then determined which ones would be most feasible to accomplish within a year.

Since then, some of the resulting implementations have been moving the Clothing Closet from its former home on McKinley Avenue into the Open Door at 160 Main St., updating the décor of the church’s main foyer and sanctuary, refining the Wednesday night programs for boys and girls and “reinvigorating relationships as we grow in Christ together,” according to Neno.

“A little over 20 years ago, our church built a beautiful addition, and the church flourished; however, the décor had become dated, so we wanted to become current,” Neno said. “The modernization of our facility will continue over the next couple of years.”

Moving the Clothing Closet was motivated by a few reasons, he said.

“First, we wanted to give the Clothing Closet better exposure; second, we had not made good use of the Open Door; and finally, we need more parking, so we are in the process of moving the duplex where the Clothing Closet had been so that we have more parking,” he said.

Neno said that, when the duplex was purchased originally during the leadership of Rev. Robert Richardson, it was with the intent of moving it for parking, but parking remains an issue. In addition, the church is working to adapt to changing times.

“While the mission of the church—the sharing of the gospel of Jesus Christ and discipleship—has not changed, the ways we do ministry change to minister to people in a rapidly changing culture,” he said. “The challenges children face have changed. Thus, we are refining our Wednesday night program to better help boys and girls.”

This new approach, he said, includes moving away from a classroom-centered approach to one that provides more opportunity for leaders to build a relationship with children. Neno said that though the church has made plenty of progress, there is more to be done.

“While we are making good progress in our endeavors, we still have work to do,” he said. “Refining and improving are ongoing labors that bring the church members together and help us keep focused on the most important tasks that we have received. We are excited for every new morning and every opportunity to meet new people and every opportunity to continue to build a relationship with those whom we have known.”

In addition to the Clothing Closet, the Groton Food Pantry is another community service the church offers, as well as one-on-one addiction counseling and help in other areas of life. Look for the children’s programs to begin again on Wednesday evenings in October, and Ignite Youth Group has already begun on Thursdays at 7 p.m.

Groton Assembly of God has been a vital part of the community for decades. Whether you have ever been there or not, Sunday, Sept. 29 is a great opportunity to check out all the changes it has been making.

GOHD Art Show winners
The 48th annual art show was another great success during Groton Olde Home Days, and I am pleased to let everyone know who the winners were.
There were several categories in which art pieces were entered, but Arlen Withy received the award for Best in Show for “Driving Sheep to Upper Meadow.”

The first-place winner in the oils and acrylic category was Nic Ellis Withey for “Three Pears and a Copper Pot”; second place, Karen Lane for “Anniyah’s Sanctuary”, and third place went to Quentin Bartholomew for “Moonlight at Sea.”

 Honorable mentions went to John Lutz for “Spring Thaw,” Sidney Moonchild for “The Bear” and Ruth Williams for “Transcendence.”

In the watercolor category, winners were: first place, Fred Warner for “Cayuga Sampler,” second place, Dyan Haser-Lombard for “Into the Woods” and third place, Shiela Hatfield for “Leia.”.

Watercolor honorable mentions went to Sandy Cowan for “Early Morning in Catchogue,” Lorraine Karpowitch for “50 Shades of Ocean Spray” and Emily Gibbons for “JFK Arboretum.”
The winners in the drawing category were: first place, Marilyn Palmer for “Penny,” second place, Booth Perkins for “Vincent’s Fields” and third place, Jae Harris for “A Sunny Day.”

Honorable mentions for drawing went to Andrew Kress for “Bendy Dreams Come True,” Amber Carmon for “Fade Away” and Chris Dunn for “Buck of the Wood.”

There was also a category for senior citizens, and those winners were: first place, Grace Hedlund for “Daisies of Course,” second place, Pasquale Ciambriello for “I Love a Roller Coaster” and third place, Marian Strang for “Let Me In.”

Seniors honorable mentions went to Harvey Cohen for “Myrthful Mandevilla,” Marian Davie for “The Singers” and Jane Newman for “Life.”

Last, but certainly not least, the winners in the student category were: first place, Naomi Cator-Szymanski for “Eyes Wide,” second place, Chelsi Ohara for “Lil Deep” and third place, Julia Garcia for an unnamed piece.

Student honorable mentions went to Mattison Lucey, Kimberly Ayers and Brynn Blasz.

In the Sept. 11 edition of this column, it may have appeared that Hope Twitchell was named a “Groton Distinguished Graduate.” Apologies for any misunderstanding. The information about Twitchell and the distinguished graduates were separate articles.

Groton on the Inside appears weekly. Submit news ideas to Linda Competillo, or 607-227-4922.
In brief:

Steak’s on in McLean
The McLean Community Church, 50 Church St., will host its famous steak dinner from 4 p.m. until the food is gone Saturday, Sept. 21.

The $15 meal includes ribeye steak made with their delicious and “best-kept secret” marinade, baked potato, vegetable medley, tossed salad, rolls, beverages and homemade pie. Reservations are highly recommended by calling (607) 838-3450. Take-out dinners are also available.

Pancakes are back!
The McLean fire station will host its first monthly breakfast buffet of the season from 8 to 11 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 22. On the menu will be regular, chocolate chip and blueberry pancakes with real maple syrup, French toast, scrambled eggs, home-fried potatoes, sausage, ham, sausage gravy with biscuits, an assortment of juices and regular and decaf coffee.

Chocolate milk from a local dairy will also be available in support of dairy farmers, and peach shortcake will be added to the menu. Cost for adults is $8, senior citizens $7 and all children $5.
Groton Community Choir
Ginny Casey, Groton Community Choir director, is sounding the call for interested singers to participate in the 69th season of this popular choir group. Rehearsals will begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 24 and will be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. every Tuesday thereafter at the Groton Assembly of God church building, 701 S. Main St.

Minimum age for choir members is 14, and Casey is calling for all former members, as well as anyone new, to come out and be a part of this musical tradition. It is not necessary for members to reside in Groton; all who love to sing with others are welcome. The main performances will be held Dec. 7 and 8, so being available those days is necessary.


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