The Bread of Life

By Steve Manskar

Otterbein United Methodist Church of Spry is near York, Pennsylvania. Average worship attendance in 2010 was 95. Average worship attendance in 2013 is 165. How did this happen?

A small group of members meet weekly for Bible Study on Wednesday night. Their current pastor, The Rev. Dr. Ken Loyer, arrived in 2010. They welcomed his suggestion of adding a brief (25 minutes) prayer service before the Bible study time.

As Advent drew near Dr. Loyer suggested they add Holy Communion to the Wednesday evening prayer service. The regular Wednesday night attenders liked the weekly sacrament so much that they didn’t want to give it up. The weekly 25 minute mid-week prayer and Holy Communion service has become an important part of the congregation’s life.

Dr. Loyer says, “The service has been key to God's work of bringing new life to this church. While in some ways it's difficult to quantify the precise effect, I know that it has been used by God and that God has answered our weekly prayers for renewal and more fruitful ministry for this church to the community.”

Gathering at the Lord’s table every Wednesday night has led members to serve Christ among hungry people in the community (see Matthew 25:35). Dr. Loyer told me, “I don't think it's a coincidence that two of the people who regularly attend this service approached me after several months and shared their sense that, following Christ's calling to serve, our church should increase our efforts in feeding the hungry of our community. Out of those conversations emerged a new food ministry that supplements our weekly food bank and monthly food program. This new ministry now has us sending out teams from the church, with food prepared at the church, to downtown York, once a quarter, to serve those in need.”

A simple 25-minute prayer & Communion service is helping members of Otterbein United Methodist Church of Spry see what God is up to in their neighborhood. The Holy Spirit is equipping them to participate in God’s mission where they live.