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New Life was founded in 1820, with an official meeting place at an old stone church built in 1834 in Depauville, NY. Its original name was simply "Old Stone Church" until the mid-70s, when it was changed to "Mount Zion Assembly".
Our former pastor, Kirk Gilchrist, became the pastor of Mt. Zion in 1997, when the church had about 4o congregants, orange carpets, metal chairs, and a lot of debt.
At that point in time, the church was hated by the community around it. The people there had gone through a lot of division, and had very little love for anyone outside of their own four walls. One day Pastor Kirk walked into a local gas station and the owner said, “Are you the new pastor of the church in town?” He said, “Yeah I am!”, expecting a kind welcome. Instead, the owner looked right at him and said, “I hope it burns to the ground.”
That was the state of the church in 1997. It was through deep meetings with the Lord and a strong conviction that Pastor Kirk finally walked in on a Sunday morning, planted an imaginary flag in the ground on the stage that represented love, and said, “This church will be built on love, not on hate, from this day forward.” That trajectory of that vision hasn’t changed since that day. Eventually, the board and the pastors changed the name of the church to New Life in order to better reflect that they were about offering people the new life that is found in Jesus. Through those changes we’ve gotten to watch as 40 people in Depauville, NY blossomed into over 800 people right here in Watertown, where we relocated to in 2008.
More importantly though, the mark of Jesus’ love for a community has continuously inspired and challenged a community of believers to love more, hope for more, and to give just a little bit more, as our faith increases in what He has done and will continue to do in and throughout our community.
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