By Susan LeDoux
“This was a miraculous provision because we weren’t actively looking for a building,” said Pastor Gary Pfeiffer about their new church home at 485 Holmes Road, just south of the Greece Town Mall.
Morningstar Christian Fellowship first met at Apollo Middle School, then, for the last ten years, at John Knox Presbyterian Church. Both congregations enjoyed the arrangement, and even held joint services twice a year. But when Concord Lutheran merged with the larger Messiah Lutheran Church, Concord’s property went on the market. The price was right, it came fully furnished, and a private donor provided mortgage money. Pfeiffer knew that with God, never say never.
His enthusiasm was contagious as he ushered The Good News into the small but beautiful sanctuary, illuminated by single columns of stained glass windows rising floor to ceiling on each side of the simple wooden altar.
Morningstar is a small congregation, a church family of about 40 faithful, but do not mistake small for unmotivated. Pfeiffer sees their new building as a vehicle for Kingdom building.
“We want to be actively involved in the community as God opens opportunities. Now that we have a building, we’re more visible.”
He anticipates his congregation will become more involved in serving others in the community. Pfeiffer explained they can move quickly and efficiently when the Holy Spirit moves them to reach out. Being non-denominational, Morning Star has a streamlined approval process to foster growth and outreach.
“The church is a volunteer organization —— not just gathering a lot of people, but encouraging people with gifts, talents, and a willingness to share and work unto the Lord, “he said.
Its greatest priority is relationship with Jesus and each other. Pfeiffer does not believe outdated man-made rules and traditions will equip and build the 21st century church.
“It’s going to be built on love, and prayer, and care — and exceptional love for Jesus. I think people are looking for something genuine, not just religion where you talk about the Lord,” Pfeiffer said, reflecting that his childhood pastor had never really preached salvation.
Although he had been raised in a God-fearing home, he said he was not saved until August of 1970; but the seeds for that salvation were sown while an undergraduate at Brockport State. He and a friend decided to visit every Protestant church in town within walking distance. Finally, they arrived at Brockport’s Assembly of God Church. They were hesitant to enter, but daring each other, walked into the small sanctuary located on a one-way street, where Pfeiffer said he experienced something foreign to him.
“People started saying ‘Jesus told me this,’ or he was going to do this or that. Another said ‘I want to thank the Lord that I had a headache and Jesus healed my headache.’
“I thought, they’re talking like he’s real. To us, he was a concept, a good thing; read your Bible and do your best. But I said ‘man, they’re talking like he’s real and they’re raising their hands in praise to Him.’ That was amazing!”
That summer, Pfeiffer returned to his home in Long Island and experienced a personal crisis. He prayed to Jesus, asking if he was real, like the people in Brockport said he was, to come into his life and change him.
Change him he did. Pfeiffer grinned. “You get exposed to life, the joy of the Lord, the Gospel, the born again experience, and you never turn back.” He said that at Morningstar, they just want to learn about Jesus, and demonstrate Him to the world. He reflected on Morningstar’s vision statement, which is to “declare and demonstrate the Kingdom of God in the greater Rochester area” (from its website http://morningstarcfc.org/about/).
When asked about “declaring and demonstrating” by mission outreach, Pfeiffer shared an amazing story. Co-pastor Josh Daby’s father, Scott, was a church Elder who felt called to Haiti. He and his family lived there for two years. There, Josh and his sister Amber, learned Creole and grew to know Haiti’s culture — and met Verdier Cherfils.
Cherfils would re-enter Daby’s life years later when Cherfils, visiting America from Haiti, turned up in Rochester because he knew Daby lived there. The young Haitian found work here and eventually rented a room in Pfeiffer’s home. He married Amber Daby and, after two years, got his American citizenship. Recently, they returned to Haiti and set about establishing God’s Kingdom in his homeland.
Pfeiffer said he travelled to Haiti to see for himself what Cherfils was doing. Skilled in construction, the young man had built his own home. He dug a well on his property to meet his needs and help supply the community (a necessity because Haitians often must walk miles to obtain water from a municipal well). On land adjoining his home, he developed a community garden and dug another well to enable Haitians to work together on the land and then share the harvest, rather than just work alone on their own small individual plots.
As donations were provided, Cherfils has given families a goat with the understanding that when the goat has its first kid, it must be given to someone else. The family can keep the second kid, but must give the third away. After that, the rest of the progeny belongs to the family. “Genius!” Pfeiffer said — and that is one way how Cerfils’ work in Haiti became a major outreach for them.
Closer to home, Morningstar supports Mission Share, which provides food and clothing for those in need, as well as Bethel Express, an inner city youth ministry.
Pfeiffer, who had previously planted three churches in the Rochester area, and also taught at the Finney School before helping start Morningstar Church in Greece, likes to challenge people.
“People have to decide to follow the Lord. I believe in the priesthood of all believers. If you are a Christian, you can hear from God.” (John 10:29-29).
For more information about Morningstar Christian Fellowship, visit them online at http://morningstarcfc.org or call at (585) 748-6089.