Born in ’74

Lately, several newcomers to Hope Community Church inquired about our history.  One lady asked, “When was the church started?”  My reply seemed to startle her.  “The church was birthed in 1974.”  She said, I don’t remember this church being in Jefferson that long.”  I replied, “It was conceived in my heart in 1974 and born on September 10, 2017.  

Let me explain.
I was born in Ashtabula and grew up in Jefferson, graduating from Jefferson Area High School in 1974.  Four years prior to graduation, I came to faith in Jesus Christ while attending youth camp and simultaneously felt a call into ministry. 
The summer after I graduated from JAHS, I struggled with my perceived need to remain home after my mother’s untimely death in 1972 or to leave for college.  One day, while walking in the field behind my home and feeling overwhelmed, I cried out to the Lord for direction.  I remember falling to the ground, sobbing in the high grass.  I then heard the Lord say, “He who does not forsake father, mother, brother or sister for my sake is not fit for the kingdom of God.  One day you will return to Jefferson and plant a church.”
That promise came to pass 40 years later! 
I subsequently attended Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri, where during my sophomore year I met Lori Owens.  We married in August 1977.  Over the next 35 years, we pastored five Assemblies of God congregations in three states.  Each time we completed a church assignment, we wondered if it was time to see the Lord’s vision for Jefferson fulfilled.
In 2012, we transitioned from our fifth pastorate.  Both of us were experiencing ministry burnout.  And that’s when the Lord directed us to Journey Church in Fairview Park, Ohio.  For one year we simply attended services.  Members of that congregation, along with lead pastors, Jim and Jennifer Wilkes, loved us back to spiritual and emotional health.
During the summer of 2013, Pastor Wilkes asked me, “Roger, do you still have a dream left inside you?”  I then shared my dream of one day returning to Jefferson to plant a church in my hometown.  Not only did the Fairview Park church support this dream, they also financially resourced the new church!
In September 2013, Lori and I began holding monthly “Meet ‘N Greets” at the Henderson Memorial Library, and Journey Jefferson was born!
Later that year the infant church moved to a small room in the Jefferson Recreation Center, still holding monthly meetings.  Momentum continued to build and by May 2014 the church was ready to begin weekly meetings.  The church launched its first weekly service on September 26, 2014.  By that time Journey Jefferson had relocated to Giddings Park, adjacent to the Jefferson Police Department.
Initially, servant leaders from the Fairview Park campus were scheduled weekly to help lead the infant church until local leaders could be raised up.  Journey Jefferson enjoyed steady growth over the next two years, necessitating yet another move.  The church moved back to the Jefferson Recreation Center in May 2016, utilizing the entire facility.  By March 2017 average weekly attendance reached 100 plus people with local leaders in place for the worship team, children’s ministries and other ministries.
Hope Community Church owes Journey Church a tremendous debt of gratitude.  The church’s first four years of existence were made possible by Journey.  In early 2017, it became apparent that Journey Jefferson’s rural culture, along with the substantially long distance from the main campus, were working a hardship on the campus’ ability to move forward.
The church exhibited needs and core values different from those of Clevelanders.  Leadership felt the unique needs of Jefferson necessitated an autonomous church in Ashtabula County.  God was doing a new thing!  In short, the campus had moved from infancy to a more mature family of believers.  It was time to move forward with a new vision, a new name and to place a pastoral presence in Jefferson.
To that end, Hope Community Church was birthed in May 2017.  The “new church” held its first service on May, 28, 2017 while still meeting at the Jefferson Recreation Center. 
In June 2017, members of the new church leadership team began looking for a permanent home for HCC, when the Lord led them to the former home of Bethel Bible Church, located at 573 Goodale Road in Jefferson.  This sister church agreed to owner-finance this facility, making it possible to acquire its new home.  Hope Community Church held its first official service on September 10, 2017.
From our inception we have been a servant leader-driven church, praying always that many who are far from God will come to faith in Christ.  If you are not part of a church family anywhere in Ashtabula County, check us out.  Allow our family-friendly environment to capture your heart!  Our Sunday morning worship service begins at 10:30 a.m.   Hope Tots (nursery-preschool) and Hope Kids (Kindergarten-sixth grade) are available, too.  “Hope” to see you next Sunday!  



Related Articles

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *