Finding comfort in faith

In these troubled times, people are looking for spiritual connections, Parkside Church Pastor Paul M

In these troubled times, people are looking for spiritual connections, Parkside Church Pastor Paul McCart said.

The Clifton Park church’s bulletin says as much — “We’re all about helping you make life’s most important connections.”

His message at a recent service was about leaving a lasting legacy during the Easter season by loving one another and doing honorable work.

“Apart from how you’re remembered, you can’t take anything with you,” he said.

The church strives for an informal feel. Dressed casually in jeans, the electric guitarist, drummer and singer performed upbeat contemporary music as McCart fiddled with the controls of the sound system and projector that displayed the words to the songs on two video screens on either side of the stage.

Some people are drawn to a more nontraditional type of worship in an evangelical Christian church like Parkside.

“We were looking for something more intimate, more personal, more friendly. This seems to fit the bill,” said Joe Sisson of Clifton Park, who has attended Parkside for about a year and a half. “We were struck by the genuineness of the people here.”

Regardless of what type of worship they choose, many Christians will be celebrating Easter today. While it is difficult to assess whether more people are turning to religion, people at both traditional and non-traditional churches say religion continues to be a source of comfort and guidance.


Northway Church Pastor Buddy Cremeans said he believes religion is strong in the Capital Region. In an era where people are inundated with bad news, he said, people are hungry for faith.

“I think in the information age, people don’t need more information. What they’re craving is inspiration.”

The world’s problems remind people that they are not in control of everything and they are seeking out religion, Cremeans said. Attendance is up at the nondenominational church’s services, and ratings for its Sunday night television program are strong. The congregation counts about 2,000 families as members.

Cremeans’ church is so successful that it is looking to build a 40,000-square-foot structure in Malta that will seat more than 1,000 people. This is more than double its current space in Clifton Park.

Church officials also are trying to reach people where they are — using social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

“We try to leverage every communication vehicle and technology because we’re all about the message,” Cremeans said.

The Rev. Peter Mason, senior pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Rexford, also believes the keys to attracting followers are having a clear spiritual message adapted to a contemporary time. His church just wrapped up a successful seven-week Lenten lunch series on Wednesdays. More than 200 people came out each week, with another 50 people volunteering to serve the meal.

“You look around at the challenging economic and social times and realize that there needs to be a larger view of this,” Mason said. “I think people stop and think and say ‘is there a God that answers these larger questions and how has he shown that he can answer these questions?’ ”

The main problems in the world are sin and death and destruction, according to Mason, and the roughly 500 people who attend weekly services are seeking to understand their role in the world.

Mason said he is particularly optimistic that the members of the congregation include children as well as those in their nineties.


The Rev. N. Bradley Jones, rector of Christ Church Episcopal in Schenectady said faith is strong in the Capital Region.

“I wouldn’t say people are clamoring back to church in droves. Every week we see people coming in that have either been away from the church or haven’t been part of the church,” he said.

The parish, which has about 140 regular participants, has a weekly prayer table set up in front of the church on State Street on Saturday mornings. People will cross the street, get off the bus and stop their cars to come over and receive a prayer.

“There’s a desperate cry for God’s help and saving power in people’s lives,” he said.

Some people only attend church on big holidays like Christmas and Easter. The Rev. Jerry Gringas, pastor of Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church in Glenville, said he encourages his congregants to make room for those people who haven’t attended in a while.

“We hope we can give them that which will nourish them and feed them and encourage them to come back.”

Categories: Schenectady County

Leave a Reply