Church Development celebrated, at the recent Indiana Annual Conference session of The United Methodist Church, the constituting (or chartering) of two new United Methodist churches in Indiana. The Branches Community Church, which meets at an aquatic center in Plainfield, and Gateway Community Church, which is located on the northeast side of Indianapolis both are now official UMCs.
The Branches, founded by Rev. Alex Hershey, launched public worship December 2013. It now averages 185 people. Gateway was planted years ago as Sonrise at Geist UMC and later became a second campus of Castleton UMC. Rev. Matt Lipan was appointed in June of 2015 and later the church was spun off as a stand-alone congregation. It includes approximately 200 children and adults on any given Sunday.
These projects are part of a new wave of church planting in the Indiana Conference. Church Development set a goal of launching 30 new faith communities by the year 2020. Besides these two, there are 18 other active new faith communities. Pfrimmer’s Chapel, a rural church outside Corydon pastored by Rev. Tim Johnson, has launched several new Mercy Street recovery-ministry based congregations as well as two new churches in Columbia, South America. (They all represent just one of the 18 on our list.) Fort Wayne Getsemani in Fort Wayne, led by Revs. Sergio & Janie Reyes, has just launched its third campus in Hicksville, OH, launching a bible study that’s now reaching 50 people each week! Other projects are popping up as well.
Why is this so important? Because many of our congregations, planted in the 1800’s when Indiana’s population primarily lived in the country, are nearing the end of their ministries. We have other congregations that are in populated areas but are plateaued or declining in numbers, and starting new faith communities is one of the most effective ways of reaching the growing number of unchurched persons in Indiana, nearly 60% of the state’s population!
So we celebrate with these two new churches and look forward to many more to come. Perhaps God is nudging you and your church to join the action too. If so, don’t hesitate to contact us at Church Development. We’d love to talk with you about it!
— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director for Church Development