Epicenter Ministries relocates to Sherburne after fire to offer 'safe place' for community

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Pastor Jerry Saliba from Randallsville New Life Church, seated, is surrounded by, clockwise from left, Pastors Amber Twigg, Katie Monroe and Mark Monroe Jr. during the grand opening of Epicenter Ministries the weekend of Jan. 1-2 in Sherburne.
Pastor Jerry Saliba from Randallsville New Life Church, seated, is surrounded by, clockwise from left, Pastors Amber Twigg, Katie Monroe and Mark Monroe Jr. during the grand opening of Epicenter Ministries the weekend of Jan. 1-2 in Sherburne.

Even as they saw their Earlville church building reduced to a burned-out hull in April 2020, Pastor Mark Monroe Jr. and his wife, Pastor Katie Monroe, kept their faith and guided their congregation through some challenging times, compounded by a global pandemic.

"I knew God was going to bring beauty from those ashes," Monroe said.

Their Epicenter Ministries held a gala grand opening the weekend of Jan. 1-2 at its new permanent location in Sherburne. Just as an epicenter is a central point of an earthquake, the pastors now want Epicenter Ministries to become a center of religious experience for the area community.

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The former Lighthouse Community Church was on South Main Street in Earlville. It was torched by an arsonist during Holy Week in 2020. Since then, the congregation has met at the Bell Tree in Earlville, where Katie said they were warmly welcomed.

She said originally they wanted to rebuild, but the cost of building materials has escalated so much during the pandemic that it was not possible. But then a building on Sanitarium Road in Sherburne became available, and they knew they had found a new home for their ministry.

Pastor Amber Twigg from Maryland was one of the guest speakers during Epicenter Ministries' grand opening weekend Jan. 1-2 in Sherburne.
Pastor Amber Twigg from Maryland was one of the guest speakers during Epicenter Ministries' grand opening weekend Jan. 1-2 in Sherburne.

Congregation member Nancy Heitzman said she has seen first-hand the blessings of the past two years as their pastors did not waver in their commitment to maintaining the life and vitality of the church.

"I have been at the church praying for and walking with the other church members as Pastors Mark and Katie Monroe have led us through the burning of the church and the COVID pandemic," she explained. "It has been a difficult journey, but God has been faithful to present us with a new church building and home after living a rather nomadic church life these past couple of years."

Heitzman said they have kept faith in their revival, pointing to other great awakenings that have occurred in the midst of difficult times. She believes God’s light shines the brightest in the midst of great darkness - as it did in the first great awakening during the American Revolution and then the next great awakening around the time of slavery and Civil Wars, Heitzman explained.

Now, the new home for Epicenter Ministries promises to be a welcoming place for the community, she said.

"I look forward to seeing God’ s love and healing power move in this area and in our church," Heitzman said. "I want to see not just a form of godliness, but the actual power of God demonstrated through signs, wonders and miracles just as the early church demonstrated. I want to see people have an encounter with the living God and come to know Jesus in a real and personal way."

Pastor Jerry Saliba from Randallsville New Life Church in Hamilton came out Jan. 1 for the grand opening. He said the event - including the most cookies he had ever seen in one place - was exciting and inspiring.

"I loved the new center and thought they had a good message," Saliba complimented. "I thought it went really well, and they all did a great job."

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Epicenter Ministries is located at 110 Sanitarium Road in Sherburne. Sunday church services are at 10 a.m. For more information, find them on Facebook.

Monroe said now he anticipates making the best use of the extra space and more land they have in Sherburne.

"I look forward to seeing how God wants us to use this facility," he said. "I can't wait to see it unfold now that we have a place to set up roots. I want everyone to know that this is a safe place for our community, and that we are always in their corner."

"We really do love our community and want to reach out to them," Katie added. "Mark and I don't have family of our own nearby but everyone has been so welcoming to us. They have become our family here and this really feels like home for us."

Mike Jaquays is the community news reporter for the Mid-York Weekly. Email him at mjaquays@gannett.com.

This article originally appeared on Observer-Dispatch: Epicenter Ministries in Sherburne NY opens new location after fire

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