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New beginning for a 107th chaplain and her flock

107th Chaplain (Maj.) Jackie Kraft on left and Pastor Jackie Kraft on right are one in the same. Although she wears two different uniforms the message is the same. Pastor Kraft along with her congregation recently relocated to their new church in Getzville. (U.S. Air Force illustration/Staff Sgt. Peter Dean)

107th Chaplain (Maj.) Jackie Kraft on left and Pastor Jackie Kraft on right are one in the same. Although she wears two different uniforms the message is the same. Pastor Kraft along with her congregation recently relocated to their new church in Getzville. (U.S. Air Force illustration/Staff Sgt. Peter Dean)

Niagara Falls, N.Y. -- On Sept. 26 more than 300 well wishes gathered with 107th Airlift Wing's Chaplain (Maj.) Jackie Kraft at the Asbury United Methodist Church to celebrate the official blessing of their new church. With a history as a church on the move, after more than a century the church and its followers are hopefully it has found its permanent home at 850 dodge Road in Getzville. Established in the late 1800's the church came to the Amherst area under the name Sweet Home United Methodist Church in the 1960's. In 2003 under Pastor Kraft's watch, a pole barn style church was built on a plot of land located on Millersport Highway.
In just a few short years, the insightful words of Pastor Kraft lead to the need of a larger place of worship. While contemplating adding onto the existing building, the congregation was approached by their neighbor, a local land developer that wanted to acquire the land which the church was occupying. The proposal was that the developer would locate a suitable site and use their resources to design and erect a new church. After completion the two parties would then do a land exchange. A win-win situation for all involved.
Pastor Kraft knew what she wanted not only for the congregation but also for the community. Working side-by-side with the architect they were able to come up with the ideal plan that would work well for both and fell within budget.
"You can't just be a church sitting," said Pastor Kraft. "You've got to say 'how can we serve the community?" she added.
The design allowed housing not only for the worship area but also numerous classrooms, a nursery, an industrial kitchen and an oversized lobby. Wasting no, time the local community was eager to put the space to good use. Both a scrapbook teacher and an SAT tutor have set up shop, offering their services to the area. Pastor Kraft has met with local boys and girls clubs. She has also reached out to the Amherst Center for Senior Services and hopes to plant a community garden on the church grounds.
"It's about reaching out and making discoveries," said Lay leader Charles Syms. "We have the opportunity to do things here that we couldn't do elsewhere because we were so small," he added.
Many surrounding churches of varying denominations and their followers came together offering guidance, labor and furnishings. Members of the Chapel at CrossPoint aided in obtaining upholstered chairs that are being utilized in place of pews and also as seating in the lobby. Also many members of the congregation spent countless hours detail cleaning the new church before packing up and transporting the church belongings to its new home.
"All you had to do was ask," said Pastor Kraft. "People wanted to be involved," she added.
"My church is much like the 107th, it's a family when something needs to be done there are many good folks willing to help," said Pastor Kraft. "If someone has fallen, we pick them up giving them the help they need, just like here, isn't it great?" she added.
"I look at it as this isn't the church that we built it's the church that God built," said Pastor Kraft.
All are welcome, and Pastor Jackie invites all members, their families, and friends to join her Sundays at 10:30 A.M. for worship. For more information visit them online at www.asburyamherstumc.org.