More area churches added to Back to Church Weekend tomorrow and Sunday

Additional churches in Allegany County and nearby Pennsylvania have joined a national focus on encouraging individuals and families to return to active church life following more than two years of pandemic struggles.

Tomorrow and Sunday, September 17-18, observe Back to Church Weekend which is in its 13th year of highlighting a return to church after summer vacations, with churches around the country observing the time in different ways and with a renewed focus as a result of pandemic interruptions.

The most recent list of area participants include the Almond Community Church, Cuba United Methodist Church, Bible Baptist Church Friendship NY 14739 the 1st UMC of Friendship, and Riverside Assembly of God, Crosstown Alliance Church, Wellsville Salvation Army – Wellsville, NY, Brookside Wesleyan Church, and Wellsville Full Gospel Church, all in Wellsville.

New Hope Wesleyan Church in Hornell, along with Myrtle Gospel Tabernacle of Shinglehouse, First Baptist Church of Shinglehouse, Pa., and Harrison Valley Alliance Church, all in Upper Potter County, Pa., also are included.

An updating church listing for New York, Pennsylvania and the entire United States is found in a Find a Church Now searchable map at

Hope is Here is this year’s theme for the weekend, according to Casey Jones, executive director of the Allegany Hope ministry of Belmont which provides free resources assistance for church outreaches to their communities.

Many individuals and families have been separated from churches and their fellowship activities during the pandemic, Jones noted, although some churches have been able to livestream weekly services during all or part of this time.”

“Although this type of outreach has been helpful for many,” he said, “it doesn’t replace human connections.”

The director also noted that a significant portion of the county is without internet services and many older adults aren’t technologically equipped to use such features, further reducing church family connections.

With the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the State Health Department loosening COVID-19 guidance this month due to new vaccination boosters being available, along with treatments if individuals do contract COVID-19, more individuals are venturing out again, Jones said, although noting that mask wearing still is being encouraged by the CDC, but no longer required, in most settings.

This year’s Hope is Here theme, the ministry leader said, is designed to highlight the hope and healing able to be found in Jesus Christ, working through His Christian churches, a message which has taken on added significance after the traumas many individuals and families have experienced as a result of the pandemic.

The national Back to Church Weekend immediately follows a three-day Rooted: Spiritual Revival Services, happening coincidentally on four occasions from last night through Saturday, September 15-17 at Houghton University.
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