New pastor at Medina United Methodist sees lots of potential at former Apple Grove site

Photos by Tom Rivers: Larry Eastlack, pastor of the Medina United Methodist Church, is pictured in the sanctuary of the church, which moved into the former Apple Grove Inn about five years ago.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 August 2018 at 9:26 am

MEDINA – Larry Eastlack is back serving the Medina community. In the 1980s, he was the first paid director for the Medina Chamber of Commerce. He did that in a part-time role before taking community development positions in Rochester. He first worked in business development in Wilmington, Delaware.

But ministry has always been his passion – and calling.

On July 1, he started as pastor of the Medina United Methodist Church. With a background in community development, Eastlack has been looking at ways to make the church property – the former Apple Grove Inn – a better asset. He would like to see the church host a bridal show. The Apple Grove hosted those type of events back when he was the Chamber director.

The kitchen and fellowship hall also would be ideal for hosting receptions, parties, dinner dances and other events. Outside there is a gazebo and Eastlack said that spot could be popular for concerts.

Church members gathered to pray outside the former Apple Grove on Oct. 27, 2013 before going inside to dedicate the site.

“There is a lot of potential here that you don’t see in different churches,” Eastlack said during an interview at his office at 11004 West Center Street Ext., next to Shelridge Country Club. “This facility is absolutely amazing.”

His main focus, however, is equipping church attendees in their spiritual lives.

“Being a pastor is just who I am,” Eastlack said. “I wanted my career to be making and growing disciples for Christ.”

Eastlack grew up as a pastor’s kid in the Wesleyan denomination. His five brothers and one sister also became pastors – in the Wesleyan denomination.

Eastlack started in ministry in the early 1970s. He is ordained with a degree from Houghton College in Allegany County. He was a youth pastor for a United Methodist church in Wellsville. He also directed an interdenominational choir that was touring Western New York and did a concert at the West Barre United Methodist Church. That’s where Eastlack met Nancy Nesbitt.

They married in 1973 and Eastlack for four years, from 1975 to 1979, led three churches in Orleans – Waterport, Kuckville and Kenyonville – before they merged and built a new church in Carlton.

The couple has three children. Gavin has been working as a model in New York City for about a decade. Morgan has a wedding videography business, and Kaitlin is a mother of four children.

Larry and Nancy live in Pine Hill in Barre in the house where Nancy grew up.

Besides a foray in community development, Eastlack also worked as television news reporter in Springfield, Mass., and Billings, Montana. He said the Watergate crisis, which was uncovered by reporters, inspired him to pursue the news business.

But ultimately his passion is in ministry. Since 1990, he has been a pastor. Eastlack has also served congregations in Canandaigua, Corning and Oakfield. He most recently worked five years as the pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church in Amherst.

He praised the congregation at the Medina United Methodist for their many outreach efforts for the community. The church hosts a Boy Scout troop, is the base for the annual MAAC toy drive and a number of other programs.

Eastlack also commended Tony Hipes, the previous church pastor who is now at Perry. Hipes was able to see the building project to completion. It took three years of renovations and nearly $1 million in upgrades before the church moved from a historic building at 222 West Center Street to the former Apple Grove. The church held its first service in the old Apple Grove on Oct. 27, 2013.

The United Methodists have a tradition of “social holiness,” addressing concerns in the community, country and world.

Eastlack said his focus will be on discipleship, on helping Christians strengthen their walk with Jesus.

“There needs to be a push on personal holiness,” he said.

The church has its Sunday service at 9:30 a.m.

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