First United Church of Christ to hold Celtic service

First United Church of Christ to hold Celtic service
Teri Stein

Pastoral assistant Amber Pottmeyer on the altar of the church.


The First United Church of Christ in New Philadelphia will hold a Celtic service on March 17 at the church. The music will begin at 9:30 a.m. with the service starting at 10 a.m.

Pastor Jill Lovett and pastoral assistant Amber Pottmeyer have planned the event, which has been in existence for about 20 years since the area’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade was ended.

“We’re expanding it this year, making it much more music-focused,” Pottmeyer said.

Lovett will lead the service.

“The service is music-driven, truly. There’ll be a short reflection at the beginning of the service tying in the reading to St. Patrick, which really lends itself to who Patrick was and what he did as his calling to Ireland,” Lovett said. “The rest of it will be driven by the music. And there’ll be commentary on the pieces so that people understand the origins and what the inspiration behind music was.”

The event will feature a variety of Celtic music performed by Sarah Fouts on harp and organ, Laura Gray as a soprano soloist, Calvin Graham on bagpipe, Amber Pottmeyer on flute, Bart Herman on piano, and music by the chancel and youth choirs.

Recognition of St. Patrick and the county’s Irish immigrants is something the church doesn’t want to see go by the wayside.

“I don’t want this to die out. Our sanctuary lends itself to music. It’s just a really pretty sanctuary, and the acoustics are fantastic for music,” Lovett said. “We’re trying to think of doing other things in the future for the community which will be music-driven.”

The church has held organ recitals there in the past.

Longtime church members Sarah Fouts, who plays the organ and harp, and her daughter Laura Gray are some of the performers. Gray will sing in Gaelic.

“They’ve been so faithful to our church in this endeavor,” Lovett said.

Communion will be held, and all are invited to participate in communion if they wish.

After the event, a popular Irish dinner of bangers and mash will be served at a cost of $6 for those who wish to stay. The dish consists of sausage and mashed potatoes and is typically served with gravy. Cupcakes will be served for dessert.

Their regularly scheduled church service is at 10 a.m. on Sunday with adult Sunday school held prior to the service at 8:45 a.m. Youth groups are held Wednesdays around 3:30 p.m. when the students get out of school.

In the youth groups, the members can talk about whatever is of interest to them at the moment, and they have a meal together.

“We sit down at the table, and they get to talk about whatever they want to — what was going on with their day, their week, whatever. We have a mix of kids. I really love this group. We have socio-economic differences beyond belief, and not one of them have a clue that they’re any different from the next,” Lovett said. “This is a unique group. Kids who would never gel at school are gelling here. They’re great kids.”

Wednesday was the day selected to meet because Lovett found it’s not convenient for the youth to come on Sunday mornings anymore. The church also likes to involve the youth in worship on Sunday.

“Just to give you an example, in the Old Testament lessons when we do Moses and getting water from the rock, the kids tell it,” Lovett said. “They’re dressed, and they act it out. We have a rock, and water comes shooting out into the sanctuary when they hit it.”

“So they are the ones teaching the lesson. They’re part of the worship service, not a children’s sermon,” Pottmeyer said.

The church’s mission is locally driven, although they do have a wider mission with their denomination.

“We support The Salvation Army, and we support Friends of the Homeless,” Lovett said, adding the church will contribute sometimes to residents who have had to deal with home disasters. “A few years ago, (we were) told you all have your own towns you live in and that you need to start supporting. We take that very seriously and try to funnel funds locally into things that are helping people here.”

The church is located at 201 Fair Ave. NW in New Philadelphia. Visit its Facebook page at First United Church of Christ, New Philadelphia, Ohio or its website at

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