BY GEORGE ROWE
When they were organized, Missional Areas of the Heartland District were tasked with collaborating on projects. The Missional Area that consisted of Cogar, Friendship, Minco-First, Tuttle-First, and Union City churches decided to worship together — and not for just one service.
They planned a series of services, with each church hosting a program, over the course of five consecutive Sunday evenings this summer.
While average Sunday worship attendance at those churches ranges from six to 76, the attendance averaged 84 at the special services.
The strategy included a different minister speaking at each service, no pastor preaching at his/her appointed church, and focusing each message on one of Jesus’ miracles. Due to the rotating locations and pastors and preaching on the miracle stories, the series was named "Trail of Miracles."
Because two pastors serve two-point charges in the Missional Area — Union City/Cogar and Minco/Friendship — District Superintendent Greg Tener and former superintendent Frankye Johnson were recruited to preach two events.
Worshippers from the five congregations first gathered at Minco, where Brandon Blacksten preached on Jesus feeding the multitude (John 6:1-14.) He challenged churchgoers to reject dwelling on scarcity and have faith that, when we offer to Christ the resources we do have, more can be accomplished than we can imagine.
Rev. Dr. Tener, at Cogar UMC, spoke on the raising of Lazarus (John 11). Just as Jesus called Lazarus from the tomb, Tener said, Christ calls Christians from places of complacency, to be unbound and set loose to minister in a hurting world.
At Union City, Mike DeMoss told of Jesus calming a storm and Peter walking on water (Matthew 14:22-33). He reminded people that by focusing on Jesus they need not fear stepping into the waters of Christian ministry.
Rev. Johnson preached from Luke 8:43-48, about the woman healed by touching the hem of Jesus’ garment. Like that woman, Jesus offers wholeness in the midst of our own life issues. The service included the blessing of anointing with oil.
The series wrapped up at Tuttle with George Rowe’s message on Jesus and the 10 lepers (Luke 17:11-19). His challenge to the audience was to see people through Jesus’ eyes, overlooking differences.
For each evening, the host church designed the order of worship and the host pastor was worship leader. The Lord’s Supper was observed.
Donations for food pantries helped "make miracles happen" in the Area. The total provided to three pantries was $1,700.
Leaders declared the series a resounding success. People expressed their desire to continue building this new relational strategy. One family that hosts an annual picnic for the Minco church extended their invitation to include all five churches.
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