Pastor Randy Truesdale believes in the power of prayer.
As the new pastor at the Union United Methodist Church in Lothian, he had been praying for community and for help with maintenance tasks too long neglected. His prayers are being answered from some unexpected places.
Courtney Buisniskis is not a member of the church but was looking for a community service opportunity for Southern High School’s football team. Her son, Austin Buisiniskis, is the quarterback and a captain of the team. It had been a few years since they had done community service as a team.
“I called a friend who knows everybody and asked if she knew anyone who needed help with anything. That’s how South County works — it was a word-of-mouth kind of thing,” she said.
The friend knew Truesdale through his day job in a cardiology office. One prayer was about to be answered.
This came in the form of Southern High School’s football team helping spruce up the Union United Methodist on a recent Saturday morning. About 30 players raked, cut back bushes, powerwashed the exterior of the aging structure, and took three loads of debris to the dump.
“The church was definitely in need of a facelift,” said the grateful pastor, working side-by-side with the team. “God works through people, and people are generous.”
Coach Steve Erxleben said the work benefited the church and his players.
“Community service builds better men,” Erxleben They were on the field (the previous) night, they are here this morning, and will be in a parade later. I’m proud of these boys — they work hard.”
Austin echoed his coach’s sentiment.
“For many, this was the first time they had done community service,” Austin said. “We felt more like a team — this was more than just football, this impacted the community.”
The cleanup was one of the signs of change taking place at UUMC since Truesdale arrived in July. A lay minister, UUMC is his first charge. He had never been to the church before, but when asked, he came.
“When God has been good to you, you can’t say no,” he said. “For some, their calling may be in other areas: hospitals, bereavement, other special callings. And they change as we grow. This church is my calling.”
UUMC’s church records show a lengthy and interesting history. Methodism itself was brought to the United States from England in the late 1700s and was Americanized when native ministers became influential leaders. Maryland and Virginia were the first strongholds of the Methodist church.
Due to the English influence, the early church was anti-slavery, and church ministries were integrated.
UUMC’s records support this in meeting minutes as far back as 1838, and in attendance at an August 1847 meeting were Thomas Crandall, John Wayson, Gilbert Nowell, William Crandall and John Randall, who was listed as “colored.” In February 1853, colored classes were being held, and in 1857, at the quarterly conference, the names of two colored exhorters (lay preachers) were listed: Enoch Peters and Washington Carver.
The local church split around 1863. The colored congregation kept the name Union Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church and moved to Lothian. The church burned down and was rebuilt in 1965, making the current structure 53 years old.
Truesdale’s vision for the future is a growing, diverse church and a solid structure to house the church: a bathroom on the main floor, energy efficient windows, a music ministry and a dance ministry.
He has faith that “If you build it, they will come.”
“Sometimes,” he said, “you have to put the need out there.”
The church needed a new interior door. He asked, and a contractor donated and installed a door. He asked, and a parishioner left her seat to play the piano during last Sunday’s service.
A drum kit sits waiting — he prays a drummer will step forward to help bring music to reinvigorate the church. He is praying other local contractors will donate time and/or materials to aid the church.
And Southern’s football team will come back in the spring to help repaint.
Annual holiday craft fair
The Power Hawks, South River High School’s robotics team, will host its annual holiday craft fair on Saturday in the cafeteria, 201 East Central Ave.
The fair from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. features crafts from local vendors and a silent auction.
For more information, visit www.powerhawks.org/craft-fair.
Pre-orders for trees, wreaths
Southern High School’s Future Farmers of America is selling chocolates, candies, centerpieces, wreaths and trees. For information including pre-order or shop dates and hours, visit www.southernhigh.org.
Email south county community news and events to Vicki Petersen at email@example.com.