Hiking Trails

Baptist church revives abandoned East Poestenkill hiking trails

EAST POESTENKILL – East Poestenkill First Baptist Church is a proud country church with a website that displays a photo of a congregation member being baptized in a clear mountain stream surrounded by green rushes, goldenrod and wildflowers – delicate, snowy Queen Anne’s lace and purple bellflowers.

The beautiful photo was taken by Heather Nelson, wife of Pastor Andy, whose work serves the congregation while raising five sons. Their church in the pretty hamlet of East Poestenkill is part of Village Missions, a movement tackling a crisis; keep small town rural churches alive as they die by the hundreds across America.

And the movement is about more than survival. He wants rural churches to be vibrant, charitable and engaging to the small towns they serve.

“Since 1948, we have been keeping the country churches in North America alive,” the website says. “We place pastors in rural churches and help those churches get back on their feet. We care about the country church and we work to keep the church a vibrant and vital presence in more than 230 rural communities across the country. “North America. We are here when crisis strikes, when the community is looking for a place to turn for answers.”

Reverend Andy Nelson’s official title is Village Missionary although his flock calls him pastor. His wife said the current congregation numbers around 35, although she hopes she will bring back some of her pre-pandemic attendees.

This week, First Baptist hosted its Community Night on the Mountain, which featured music, hot dogs, watermelon and CornHole, 4Square and Frisbee. But social events are just one way this summer for the church to serve the community. Indiana Baptists visit the church to help with other church projects. This week’s focus will be on cleaning up overgrowth and litter from the Poestenkill Elementary School hiking trails. In August, the scouts will join in the work to beautify the trails.

“If all goes well, we’ll be working on the Poestenkill trails that have been abandoned for many years,” explained Heather Nelson. “The PTA and the elementary school principal are keen to see them used once again this fall. My husband, Andy, and I are involved with the PTA, which has been a great way for our family to church better know how to serve Poestenkill.”

She said nine members of a church in the small town of Fishers, Indiana, traveled to East Poestenkill on Monday and “will be sleeping in an Airbnb in West Sand Lake” while helping her church with community projects.

“They worked tirelessly today to help get our property ready for community night,” she said.

The congregation meets in a white-framed church with a steeple and hosts summer activities for children like vacation Bible school, men’s and women’s scholarships, and lots of volunteer work.

If you would like to help bring overgrown trails back to life, call (518) 283-5186 to volunteer.