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Curious Roaming Catholic

The Covid quarantine and the limits on communal gatherings morphed me into somewhat of a Roaming Catholic. I long for the days where there are no reservations needed, but I guess we’ll have to wait. I’ve never been known as a patient guy, but if there’s something I learned this past year, although, in incremental steps, it’s patience. Whether it’s waiting in a line, keeping my six-foot social distance, or waiting for the opportunity to get the vaccine. My microscopic inconveniences cannot compare to those struggling to keep their businesses alive or all of us who long for the normalcy of community engagement. 

My wife and I have been residents in the Babylon Village area for over twenty-seven years and we love this community.  It took the pandemic to help us better appreciate our surroundings and fellow Babylonians. Living in proximity to the Great South Bay and now working from home more often than not, has helped me take in my surroundings. 

One curiosity I discovered was Community Church, just on the West end of the village on Montauk Highway, this seemingly nondescript red brick building has been reborn and resurrected into a revitalized place of worship. Pre-pandemic we attended a Sunday service shortly after Pastor Lou Pizzichillo launched his new ministry.

I wrote an article in my blog called Finding Christ in Community, and now with the relaunch of Community Church this Sunday, I decided to drop in and see how the preparations were going. Pastor Lou was gracious and gave me a tour of the newly renovated church as they were planning to move the services from the basement to the big room. I sat down with Pastor Lou and his number two, Music director Pastor Tom Pryor. They shared their struggles and successes, as we compared notes on ministry, and the ups and downs leaders face nowadays.  Lou and Tom are talented humble men who have a passion for their work and it shows in how they conduct themselves during services and those times in between.  I thank them for their artful listening skills and bearing through my stories. 

Considering the limitations placed on mass gatherings, Pastor Lou decided to use the quarantine time to plan for a relaunch which will commence on Sunday, March 7th.  From all appearances, Lou and his crew have been hard at work revitalizing the sacred space to accommodate safe distance seating and preparing the old church with a needed sprucing up.  I’ll leave the makeover details as a mystery, so returning congregants can take in the new surroundings and improvements first hand. As Pastor Lou relayed to me, even though the struggles this new church is getting off the ground, and even with obstacles in their way, through the grace of God, and support of the community, they have a renewed sense of hope with the relaunch. 
So here I am roaming about. How did a Cradle Catholic stumble upon Community Church? For me, it comes down to the yearning to find a place where I can bring my thoughts and prayers and experience an open and welcoming community.

Community Church of Babylon is a non-denominational Christian church.  When we took a chance on walking through new church doors, we discovered a welcoming atmosphere and a group of people who are invested in reaching out to us. As for me, I have not given up on my faith tradition. Maybe it’s the prevailing need for unity in our times. I believe I am more open to new ways of worshiping across “party lines” so to speak, after all, “Catholic” means “Universal”.
When I attended the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, I was assigned a group project on Ecumenism, which is reaching out to other Christian traditions.  To be ecumenical is to recognize the truth of the gospel in other faith traditions.  I believe there is so much we can accomplish as a community in sharing in the service to the community, especially the outcast, the marginalized, and the poor. I have little interest in debating dogma. 
I rather look to engage in community outreach and making new connections, rebuilding, renewing relationships, building up the community by knocking down walls and building bridges. 

Church leaders in Babylon are struggling to stay connected to their parishioners, and congregants. Many churches have taken the leap into video streaming services or have conducted zoom classes to keep in touch. Pastor Lou’s team seems to be the gold standard for utilizing social media for community outreach from the get-go. Launching or re-launching a new church takes an enormous amount of planning and outreach to spread the word. I’ve been impressed by their social media savvy, whether it's the videos, the music,  the app, or the many tools at their disposal, Lou’s team is a model for other houses of worship. Slick social media is one thing, but it needs to be backed up with talent and timely messages reaching hearts.  Pastor Lou is an excellent preacher who can connect with young and old alike    (I can testify for the elders). The worship music is contemporary and joyful.  

So if you are curious, make a reservation for Sunday services at Community Church. For me, it was a new experience that was both refreshing, challenging, and yet comfortable. So no matter your faith tradition, I ask my fellow Babylonians to welcome Community Church to the neighborhood. I believe you will find this church and the people within to be a welcome asset to the village. 

 

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