The congregation of the Factoryville United Methodist Church welcomed a new Pastor earlier this month in the person of Peter Raser.
Pastor Raser assumed the position of leader of the Factoryville Church on July 1, and since that time he has worked and will continue to work to “further connect our community to each other, the world, and God.”
Raser has been a Methodist Pastor for nearly 20 years, spending much of that time in the Birmingham area of Alabama. There he met his wife of 15 years, who is also a member of the Methodist Clergy. Together the two are the proud parents of three daughters, ages 6,10, and 13.
Raser describes his decision to enter the ministry as a “calling” rather than a “choice.” The Harrisburg area native knew that was destined to work in the Church since he was eight years old, but didn’t think then that he would be giving sermons.
Instead, the young Raser had musical ambitions. The son of a band director, Raser grew up with music, learning to play piano, guitar, trombone, and almost any brass instrument. Music remains a major part of Raser’s life, and something that he can share with his children, who are all trained in piano and play various instruments respectively. It should come as no surprise, then, that as a boy he assumed he would be involved in church music.
Though when in the pulpit his voice is his only instrument, Raser says he tries to apply an almost musical aesthetic to his sermons. “My goal when giving a sermon is not simply to read the text,” he says, “but to make the familiar unfamiliar.” “I try to find and impart the heart and the soul of the Gospel.”
Raser has found the environment of Factoryville United Methodist conducive to this type of approach, as it “runs the gamut from the traditional to the contemporary.” This is evident by looking around the Church, which houses a drum set along with an organ.
So far Pastor Raser has felt welcomed in Factoryville, saying this is his first time living in a small town where one can walk to the grocery store. “Most neighbors and members of the congregation came an introduced themselves to me in the first few days,” he said, “everyone has been so accommodating and appreciative.”
The nature of the close-knit Factoryville community aligns nicely with what Raser considers to be his mission as a faith leader, namely, “connecting with people of all backgrounds and forging a community united by love and compassion.”
Raser says that he draws inspiration from a particular verse of the Apostle Paul’s first epistle, 1 Corinthians 9:22, which reads, “To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.”
“This message has inspired me to attempt to connect with other people and to try to understand their situations and learn from them,” Raser said. In this way he believes we may all better understand that “what is truly important are the relationships we forge with others.”
A similar sentiment is expressed in the words of the eighteenth century Methodist theologian John Wesley, another of Raser’s inspirations. “John Wesley once said ‘All the world is my parish,’” Raser remarked, “and I truly believe that. One doesn’t have to be a member of this church to reach out to me and make a connection.”
“In the end our relations with each other, the world, and God should be inspired by love,” Raser said, “because love is the only commodity where the more you give, the more you get back.”
Sunday worship at the Factoryville United Methodist Church begins at 9 a.m.