Image by Robert Henrich
The Church of Owego doesn’t have a church. There's no pastor. They don’t take up a collection. But they're always looking for new members.
The Church of Owego is a gathering of pastors and their faith communities who share experiences, pray together, and look for ways to become more closely united in prayer and action. Here’s how it all got started…
Six years ago, Reverend Terry Steenberg was settling in as the new pastor of the First Baptist Church of Owego. He looked around and saw a quiet old town, dotted with quiet old churches, each standing as isolated from the other as islands in the Susquehanna River that flows behind Main Street. Too isolated, too quiet, he thought; this town needs a revival. Pastor Terry decided to build bridges. He began making calls, sending emails, meeting with other pastors, inviting them to come together to unite in prayer for the spirit of their town. Those first meetings grew into “Owego Prays,” an informal association of spiritual leaders seeking to help each other rekindle the spiritual fire in their Owego congregations. People prayed together at ecumenical worship services; congregations were invited to each other's concerts, revivals, social events. Recently, to highlight the pastors’ vision of unity, the group’s name was changed to “The Church of Owego.”
Today pastors take turns hosting community prayer meetings for revival twice a week. On Thursdays the pastors come together for planning and fellowship. On Easter morning, members of many of the member churches assemble for a “Sonrise” service, church ministers pitching in to lead the singing and prayer. Other special events are held throughout the year.
As Pastor Terry stresses in his newsletter, “The Church of Owego” is not an organization – “it’s a movement of God’s Spirit amongst God’s people in Owego and the surrounding area for the furtherance of His Kingdom in this place. We are striving for unity, prayerfulness, and love within the Body of Christ that reaches out with love to all the ‘whosoevers’ of Owego.”
Want to get a feel for what church must have been like before boundaries, before people starting becoming isolated, gathering in separate buildings with different names over the doors? Check out a Church of Owego gathering – or contact Pastor Terry; he can give you some pointers on helping the churches in your town begin coming together in prayer and action.