God is the guiding, ever-present foundation of Carolyn McCarty's life. She's a member of Marion Church of Christ in Southeast Rochester and will be 87 years old next month. McCarty moved to Rochester in 1995 and has been a member of the congregation from that time.
The connection she feels to the other people of the church continues to be an ongoing source of spiritual nourishment for McCarty.
"We can worship God anywhere, but we do need the fellowship of other Christians. It's the reminder that you aren't the only one doing this thing … that there are others doing it with you," she said.
McCarty's faith has helped her persevere throughout the challenges she has faced through the years, including the deaths of two husbands, 19 surgeries and relocating many times. Involvement in a congregation has been a key priority wherever she has lived.
"You need each other to build yourselves up," she said. "You really do need each other."
In addition to her involvement at church, family plays a central role in McCarty's life. Her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are spread out over the country, and in the time in between their summertime family reunions, she stays connected to them through her iPad and iPhone. She learned to use them years ago.
"We never stop learning, no matter how old we are," she said. "We think we know it all, but we don't. We keep learning."
Marion Church of Christ is served by two pastors, Rick Walton and Isaac Karow. There is programming for all ages.
"We're bursting at the seams," McCarty said regarding participation on Sundays and Wednesday evenings. "We have all generations and so many kids."
When asked about the guiding principles of her family of faith, she said, "We believe that Jesus is the Christ. We celebrate communion every week, and we baptize by immersion when an individual decides they are ready."
Decision-making at Marion Church of Christ is a shared process. The pastors, deacons and elders are involved in the day-to-day decisions of the church. Larger discernments are voted on by the full congregation.
"Anything big is brought before the whole church, and we all have our say," McCarty said.
The congregation has broken ground on a new building. It has been a nearly 12-year process. Of great joy to McCarty is the fact the new building is on only one level and will be fully accessible. She uses a walker to get around, and it was very important to her that all those who have special physical needs find the new church building easier to navigate.
Everyone is excited about the new, more convenient and visible location on County Road 11.
"We've all worked so hard on this building project," McCarty said. "It was all a congregationwide process." The congregation hopes to be in the new building by late spring or summer next year.
A final bit of guidance from McCarty was this: "Love God. He'll guide you. Trust his timing. It's hard for us humans. We want everything done yesterday. It's on God's time, though. Not our time."
To learn more about Marion Church of Christ, to follow updates on the new Worship Center and to view the church calendar, visit its website, www.marionchurch.com.