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by Gail Marsh
(Monday, July 6) After interviewing people from his neighborhood and asking them to answer some simple questions, the Rev. Michael Nicol determined one thing -- a lot of people have given up on the traditional church.
"When I asked many of the people in my area why they thought people no longer attended church services, I found they had a lot of good answers, ranging from boring sermons to lack of relevant programs," the pastor said.
Pastor Nicol is in the process of trying to remedy that situation. He has started a fellowship he describes as "a church designed for people who've given up on church."
Nicol asked his neighbors to tell him what they would look for in a church they would be willing to attend. They mentioned things like friendliness, something for children, family-related programs, tolerance, community service and small home groups.
Nicol is working to incorporate these and other principles at New Life Lutheran Church, one of only three churches in West Virginia associated with the Missouri Synod.
"Jesus went where people were and found out what their needs were and where they were hurting," Nicol said.
The pastor said New Life Lutheran Church will offer love, acceptance, forgiveness and encouragement.
"Jesus didn't come to condemn the world but to save it," he said.
Nicol said his denomination dates back to the 16th century and to Martin Luther.
It is a traditional church with a rich heritage, a church with both firmness and flexibility, Nicol explained.
The small fellowship is presently meeting in Nicol's home in North View, but a series of special services and Vacation Bible Schools are planned as city-wide events.
The public is invited to the celebration services that will be held on three consecutive Saturday evenings beginning at 6 p.m. July 11 in the Nutter Fort Elementary School cafeteria.
A worship team from Charleston will be leading the music and Pastor Kirk Dueker, pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Charleston, will be delivering the message.
The first Vacation Bible School will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 11 at Clarksburg City Park in Nutter Fort. The one-day program will feature Bible lessons, songs, games, crafts and lunch. All ages are welcome.
A second Bible School will be held July 16 through July 18 at the former Owings United Methodist Church. The Thursday and Friday program will take place from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., while Saturday's activities will take place from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
"We did that at Bridgeport City Park last year and had about 25 children. Everyone has a good time," Nicol said.
For more information on New Life Lutheran Church or the special services, people can reach Mike or Laura Nicol at 622-4094.