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July 12, 2013

New pastor strives for church relevancy

PLATTSBURGH — The Rev. Philip Richards looks forward to becoming acquainted with Plattsburgh United Methodist Church and the area.

“It’s a beautiful community,” Richards said.

He and his two daughters, who are entering the third and the sixth grade, moved from Glens Falls to Plattsburgh just in time for the church’s annual Strawberry Festival, held June 27.

Richards has served the Upper New York Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church for 23 years, and this will the fifth church where he has been pastor.

CONNECTION

He grew up attending the United Methodist Church and originally went to school to be a history teacher, but a youth group that he led while he was in undergraduate school changed his mind.

“The connection that I had with the youth group members and my ability to share with them the stories of scripture, my own belief, in a way that got them excited about being a part of the church,” he said, helped him to realize what he really wanted to do.

Becoming a pastor fulfilled both his deep-seated faith and his desire to serve the community, so he earned his master’s degree in divinity from Boston University.

“I also love the church. It has made a huge difference in my life,” he said. “Anytime a community gathers together, amazing things can happen.”

RELEVANCE

Richards thinks the Plattsburgh United Methodist Church membership is excited and ready to serve the community.

“To see so many people enjoying just being together is awesome. It (the church) is a great place to find friends and great people,” he said.

Richards focuses on how the church is relevant to the community, as well as individual’s lives.

“What we’re really doing in the life of the church these days is trying to be vital to the community. If something is happening in our world, how can we as a church respond?”

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