Connections Church: Interdenominational Evangelical Services For Those Seeking An Alternative
The description that runs in this newspaper’s Worship Notes each week for Connections Church says simply “Interdenominational evangelical church services Sundays, 10 am; children’s program available.”
Pastor Rocky Veach and Assistant Pastor Adam Watt promise those who attend services will gain much more.
Connections meets each Sunday morning at Newtown Meeting House. The nondenominational church is “mostly independent,” Pastor Veach told The Newtown Bee recently.
“We began as a much larger organization, but we are no longer under that umbrella,” he said.
A Missouri native, Pastor Veach was called to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ when he was 18 years old. He attended Rhema Bible Training Center in Tulsa, Okla., from 1984 until 1986, where he studied under the ministry of Kenneth E. Hagin and also met his future wife, Bobbi Younger.
The Veaches have since ministered across the country and around the world, Pastor Veach said. For nine years (2002-11), Pastor Veach served as vice chair and chairman for Christian Outreach Centre, a global church planting organization founded in Australia.
After serving a calling in Hudson Valley, N.Y., Rocky and Bobbi Veach formed Connections in 2011, first meeting within South Britain Congregational Church in Southbury.
“We’re church planters,” he explained. “We have started many churches from scratch.”
They relocated to Newtown the following year, renting the Alexandria Room at Edmond Town Hall.
The Veaches purchased a house in Bethlehem by the time the church transitioned to Newtown.
Connections Church met at Edmond Town Hall for five years before moving to its current location at 31 Main Street.
“The town hall space was just a little too big for us,” Pastor Veach said. “This,” he said, indicating the main meeting room of the historic building he and Pastor Watt were sitting in, “is more comfortable.”
Connections Church’s congregation generally has 50-70 people, the men said. “The heart of our group is in their 20s to 40s,” Pastor Veach added.
Pastor Veach continues to rely on guidance from a Global Connections pastor based in Australia.
“Even pastors have pastors,” said Pastor Watt. “Everyone needs someone to go to.”
Pastor Watt began his training a few years ago.
“I was a businessman for most of my life,” he said. “I felt my calling later in life.”
It was his sister, he said, who led him to Connections Church.
“I went to a service in 2012, and I’ve been here ever since,” he said. “I had just gotten word from God that I was going to be a preacher.”
Pastor Watt attended Pastor Veach’s services for two years before saying anything. He later trained under and was ordained by Pastor Veach. Now Pastor Watt serves as “the local church pastor,” said Pastor Veach.
“He’s in charge of things here in Newtown,” Pastor Veach said of his assistant pastor.
When it’s time to offer a sermon, Pastor Watt “just tries to follow the spirit of God,” he said.
Pastor Watt also coordinates outreach, including one that helps local elderly residents with carpentry work and another that nourishes.
Heaven’s Kitchen is a program that the church used to host, offering hot meals to those who needed one — or wanted to join others for the company — once each month. The program had been operating at Newtown United Methodist Church, which has a large kitchen; and then at Edmond Town Hall.
It has been on hiatus, but Pastor Watt is hoping to bring the offering back.
“I’m hoping to put a food service together,” he said, “on the final Thursday night of each month.”
Connections also relies on Mark and Melissa Bilotta, a young couple who serve as worship leaders, the pastors said.
“They’re very good at what they do,” said Pastor Veach.
Pastor Watt agreed, saying the Bilottas are “very anointed with the spirit of God in them. They’re walking in their calling.”
“We have a love for people — people that others may not be able to touch,” Pastor Veach said.
Lori Marino feels Connections is “sort of like an alternative church.”
“It’s smaller, and very personal,” she said recently. “It’s like a family feeling. Everybody knows everybody, and Pastor Rocky has a little different viewpoint of how church is done in that he feels like instead of going to church we should be the church.
“It’s not about buildings, or programs, or being entertained, or motivational speeches. It’s more about knowing Jesus and a loving God and loving each other. Those are the main things,” she added.
The former Middlebury resident learned about Connections through a friend, she said. Ms Marino had been attending “a fairly large church in New Milford,” she said. A friend told her about Pastor Veach, and his plans at that time to relocate from New York.
“She said ‘There’s a pastor, a minister, who’s thinking about coming in this direction, and he’s really filled with the Holy Spirit, and thinking about starting a church here,’” Ms Marino recently recalled.
Ms Marino attended one of the early meetings, when people gathered in each other’s homes.
“It was great,” she said. “There was a lot of passion, a lot of desire to be together, to study the Word together, and pray.”
Friendships were quickly formed. Before long, others were finding their way to the meetings.
“We even met at my house for a time,” she said. Members spent a lot of time praying, “and just going to things together — picnics, or just going to each other’s houses. If someone was celebrating something, a good portion of the church would just show up.”
Ms Marino appreciated that her new church family felt like an extended family, with everyone sharing the same spiritual viewpoint.
“You know how sometimes you get together with your own family, it’s fun and everything, but you have very different points of view,” she said.
Newtown resident Paul Bombero, a longtime member of Connections Church, said he is always encouraged by the Bible-based teachings that help grow a true relationship with the Lord and savior Jesus Christ.
“The spirit-filled songs and worship is always joyful and uplifting,” he added.
Lori Marino attended Connections Church while living in Connecticut. She moved to Arizona about seven years ago, she said recently during a phone call.
Before moving, she began taking care of the church’s website and e-mail communications. Moving 2,100 miles did not stop that. Now the church’s director of communications, she has since January also been working to present a live stream with Pastor Veach every week.
“I tried other churches when I moved out here,” she admitted. “I tried to replicate the experience I had with Pastor Rocky in Connecticut, and I just couldn’t find it.”
Late last year, Pastor Veach suggested live streaming services.
“What I like about what Rocky does is what we feel church is supposed to be like versus what church has kind of turned into,” Ms Marino said.
“I think his goal with the livestream is to continue that: people who might not want to go into a church but are curious, or seeking, or those who are Christian who are disillusioned with that church has become — like me,” she said.
Thanks to Skype and other software, Ms Marino continues to work with Pastor Veach each week, offering livestreams of his sermons. Pastor Veach also has an active YouTube channel (best accessed through rockyveach.org), and the church has an active Facebook page (facebook.com/connectionsct).
Connections Church gathers for services Sundays at 10 am, at Newtown Meeting House, 31 Main Street. For additional information, visit the church’s Facebook page, its website (connectionschurchct.com), or call Pastor Adam Watt at 203-917-7481.