In the quaint hamlet of Clintondale, nestled within the Hudson Valley’s picturesque landscapes, lies a historic church that has stood for two centuries. The Clintondale Christian Church, though relatively small in size, is a spiritual beacon in the community, and at its helm is the steadfast and passionate Pastor Steve Sherwood. His journey to this pulpit is a remarkable story of faith, dedication and adaptability.
Discovering His Calling
Pastor Sherwood’s spiritual journey began as a teenager when he stepped into the hallowed halls of the Fostertown Methodist Church in Newburgh.
It was during a “Tent Meeting” at the Methodist Church that he felt an unmistakable call to serve God, though he was uncertain about the exact path he should take. After high school, Sherwood enlisted in the Army and later spent 14 years working at IBM. However, his heart remained steadfast in its devotion to God.
This unwavering faith led him to leave IBM and enroll in Bible School with dreams of becoming a missionary. Fate, however, had other plans, and Sherwood found himself returning to his hometown to work in the family business.
A Historical Church with a Modern Mission
The Clintondale Christian Church has stood proudly for two centuries, with its current building gracing the landscape since the 1920s. The heart of the church beats every Sunday at 10 a.m., where the congregation gathers for worship, reflection and communion. The service begins with an opening reading and song, followed by a time of “prayer and praise,” where congregants share their joys, sorrows and prayer requests. Three songs of worship and a 30-minute sermon form the core of the service.
Unlike some churches with elaborate programs, Clintondale Church focuses on “walking it out,” as Pastor Sherwood puts it. However, they do offer a Wednesday night prayer gathering and an event called “Fishers of Men,” where men from the community come together to fish and learn about being “Fishers for God.”
A Place of Miracles and Grace
This small church holds a treasure trove of stories where faith and prayer have seemingly wrought miracles. From children to animals, and even cancer survivors, there are tales of healing and grace that have unfolded within these walls. It’s a testament to the power of belief and the strength of this close-knit community.
Weathering the Storm: COVID-19
Like the rest of the world, Clintondale Christian Church faced an unprecedented challenge with the COVID-19 pandemic. Pastor Sherwood describes the toughest aspect being the divisive attitudes towards the virus.
Nevertheless, the congregation displayed remarkable respect for differing opinions. The church closed for four months during the pandemic, and Pastor Sherwood provided daily devotionals at various locations to keep the spiritual flame burning.
The pandemic, unfortunately, led to the loss of many young families in the congregation, with some relocating to other states. The church’s average attendance dwindled from 80 to 45-50, primarily comprising individuals in their 40s to 60s. Despite the lifting of COVID restrictions, Pastor Sherwood continues to live stream services, which now reach an average of 250 viewers per week.
A Message of Unity
At the heart of Clintondale Christian Church is Pastor Steve Sherwood’s belief that regardless of one’s background or circumstances, we are all the same. We all share a love for laughter and good food. This inclusivity is not just a motto but a way of life in this close-knit congregation, fostering a sense of unity, love and faith.
In the face of adversity, Pastor Steve Sherwood and Clintondale Christian Church have shown resilience and adaptability. They have transformed challenges into opportunities to strengthen their faith and reach a wider audience, proving that even in the smallest of communities, a strong and unwavering belief can shine brightly, illuminating the path for others seeking their own spiritual journeys.