Forest Home Chapel
Tuesday, July 25, 2017
United Methodist Church, Ithaca New York

The Congregation

A Healthy Congregation

Originally, the Chapel served the local community. Outreach in the early 1980’s brought in more Cornell students and married families from Hasbrouck Apartments. Over the years, a frequent succession of ministers led to the kind of difficulties one might expect. But the laity (congregation)—which is much more widespread now—has learned to deal with change and uncertainty and has remained strong. We are financially viable, having recently moved from a quarter-time to a half-time minister, and we are proud to pay the full apportionment due the United Methodist Church.

A Handsome Building

We feel obligated to maintain our buildings as befits the community, and are proud to be on the National Historic Register. As recently as 2011, new paint and concrete work brought Chapel repairs up to date, and Parsonage repairs are not far behind. Aptly named The Peace Garden by Dorothea Queen, the perennials in front of the Chapel were planted in 2001 and are still maintained by Elizabeth Mount.

Generous Mission Projects

The congregation is active in outreach, including regular support of the local Kitchen Cupboard food distribution system; participation in the multi-faith organization, Area Congregations Together; support for a number of local and international mission projects; and creators of fully stocked school bags for world wide distribution as well as of home baked goods for student study bags distributed locally through the Protestant Cooperative Ministry at Cornell University. Strong believers in the power of books, members donate “gently used children’s books” which are distributed county-wide by the Family Reading Project.

Please see Our Missions page for more detail about our missions.

A Transient Population

While recognizing—and celebrating!—that the Chapel will never be a large church, an active search is underway for ideas to improve our ministry and assure that we are a welcoming, hospitable congregation. Our location—near two institutions of higher education—is both a joy and a concern. A transient population can be difficult to serve, but we are many-times blessed by the talents of the students, faculty and staff who pass our way.

Chapel "alumni" are scattered throughout the world. A former congregant is working in mission in Nepal with the Mennonite Central Committee. Another is an economist with U.S. House Agricultural Committee while he and his wife are both in leadership positions with a United Methodist Church in the Washington DC area. John and Pearl Buck lived in the Parsonage in the late 1920s, returning to China after completing graduate degrees at Cornell. Author Pearl most famously received the Nobel Prize in literature and John was well known in his own field as a leading expert on the Chinese agricultural economy.

See Recent History page, Buck Lecture 2008

Other Chapel alumni are faculty members at universities scattered across the U.S. Recently, three congregants completed PhDs in the biological sciences, and they too will likely go on to something challenging, probably outside of Ithaca. Two voice majors and an organist-in-training from Ithaca College were part of the choir, and were sorely missed when they graduated. Attachments are formed but never truly broken. It is a joy to think of them, literally sprinkled throughout the world. Other churches, have similar experiences, but relative to our size, Forest Home Chapel has had an unusually large outreach. Our congregation knows that ministry can reach worldwide, and is gratified to know we were a home base for worship, spiritual growth, friendship and sharing for those who passed this way.