This is a great day in the life of our church. Today we celebrate and remember that we are 90 years old.
He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. Ephesians 5:27
For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.
You must teach these things and encourage the believers to do them. You have the authority to correct them when necessary, so don’t let anyone disregard what you say. Titus 2:11-15
Celebrating our past vision: Listening to our history!
Here are some things that happened in 1918:
In 1917, Michigan rejoined the conference after a ten year absence. In 1918, the teams played their first conference matchup, with Michigan prevailing 14-0 and lodging its eleventh shutout over the Buckeyes. In 1919, the Buckeyes (led by legendary halfback Chic Harley) won their first game in the series, defeating the Wolverines 13-3.
Oral Roberts, Sam Walton, Pearl Baily, Howard Cosell, Jack Paar, Nelson Mandela, Leonard Bernstein, Ted Williams, Paul Harvey, Billy Graham, and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, were all born in 1918.
What we need to remember today is that on September 29, 1918 this church was organized under the name, The First Church of the Nazarene. A man by the name of Rev. John Gould (District Superintendent) helped organize the church following a tent meeting conducted by Rev. J.W. Short. Twenty people signed on to launch this church. For quite some time they met in homes until a church could be found to rent. This was the Old Welch Church on Elmwood Ave. (“it needed a lot of cleaning.”)
The first pastor came from Olivet Nazarene College and the pastors wife who had been a school teacher for 12 years came to Newark and took the ministers study course. She took four years in one and was ordained with her husband.
In describing the church from 1926-29, someone wrote, “We did a lot of calling and holding meetings at the jail and County Home and also Sunday afternoon meetings.”
From 1936-42 Rev. Frank DeBoard was the pastor. I think they must have worked him to death but the person who wrote the short history of the church included these commendations about the pastor and his family:
“ They could play, sing or lead the song service, most anything they were asked to do.”
“This pastor is the one that really put the work out. We bought the ground of our present location, put up a basement and worshipped in it until the right time came along. Then we all felt like it was time to erect the church on up, Rev. DeBoard being a good carpenter.
He was our pastor, carpenter, contractor.” The writer mentions teams of horses and lots of volunteer help but gives kudos to this pastor for 2500 working hours without pay!
Of Pastor Frank Simpson, it was written, “No one could say much of his sweet , kind, loving spirit that he possessed.”
Rudy Frederick came in 1949 and added a brick annex to accommodate the fast growing Sunday School.
By 1965, the twenty had grown into a strong church of 200 plus people. Over the years they continued to try to find ways to do the mission Christ gave the church to do.
In the book, Church Unique, Will Mancini writes about whispering legacies. “Predecessors, mentors peers, and co-laborers across the globe work in response to the same revealed Scripture to usher in a better intermediate future on their own street corner. This reality begs the question: “How does past and present vision connect with what God is calling us to do?” Three dynamics are worth highlighting as whispering legacies that simultaneously motivate us, anchor (humble) us and sharpen us.”
The fact is that this church has been ongoing for 90 years! From the beginning days of a tent meeting in which 20 people came to Christ to the many different ministries and attempts to do ministry over the decades no one generation has had a lock on perfection including us today.
There are people sitting in these seats today who have been here through many different stages of this church body. They stepped up and lead when leadership was called for. They didn’t shrink back from hard work and sacrificing their time for the calling and ministry of the church. I am inspired by their work ethic and understanding of ministry.
When I asked for the pictures to be placed in the foyer today for us to look at my hope and prayer is that we will understand that there are those who went before us and laid the ground work for anything that may be happening today. This church didn’t just start in 2000 or 2001! We have a rich history laden with men and women who sacrificed and followed our Lord’s example and teaching.
The church did fall on some tough times. There were lean years of little or no growth and even a struggle to maintain. There were years of status quo where no one was added to the church, very few families with young children were here, and very few were led into a relationship with Christ. It is into those years that vision was once again laid out. Not unlike those twenty folks that came out of a tent meeting and started meeting in homes the leadership team began to dream again in 1999 of the possibilities of what this church could become.
It was into the middle of this dream that God enabled and called me to come alongside some of those leaders and began to put definition to that dream.
It has been an amazing seven years to watch God work. Nothing that has been done has been done without relying on God to be in the middle of it. We have made some mistakes, we don’t always get it right but we as a church are leaning hard into Christ and trying to discover His ways to do and be the church in our world today.
Committing to our present vision: Loving our opportunities!
In this our ninetieth year it is time to review who we are and where we are going. Next week when we come back together we will explore the future of this church and its ministry.
For a few more moments today lets look at who we are today.
Leading people into a growing relationship with Christ.
We have made a commitment to do whatever is necessary to reach unchurched or dechurched people. Once we establish a relationship with them and they establish a relationship with God, they become part of Christ body or the church. We openly welcome people with challenges, problems and in general individuals who are not perfect but are seeking a relationship with God and others.
8 CORE VALUES
Newark Naz is a place that helps connect those who are spiritually exploring God’s love and truth. To do this, we’re committed to doing anything to help people connect God’s timeless truth from the Bible with their day-to-day life. We do not engage in anything immoral or anti-scriptural to do this, but we do embrace creative methods used in our current culture. The challenge for us is that the Bible was written a long time ago for people in another culture. The fact that we are in Newark, Ohio in the twenty-first century doesn’t change the message that God gave 2000 years ago, but it does mean that we need to do some work to connect it to our lives today. That’s what we mean by "Culturally Relevant Communication."
It’s nothing new. It’s the kind of thing the Bible referred to in Ecclesiastes 12:10 which says, "The teacher searched to find just the right words." In fact, it’s exactly what Jesus did. Whether it was stories about sheep and goats, vineyard workers, or a guy who throws a party, Jesus used the current language and daily life of those around him to communicate truth.
Where does this leave us all today? What should we do with this information?
Two things I want you to walk out of here today doing:
1.) I want you to celebrate and remember those who have gone before us and laid the foundations of what we are doing today. Without them we would have nothing.
2.) I want you to understand that it is our turn now to give our time, talent and tithe to make today’s ministry work. I want you to ask yourself this question: “Am I giving back to the ministry of this church? Am I involved and helping to pull my share of this ministry? Am I giving at the biblical level of tithing as taught throughout the bible?
We are answering the call for today.
Are you a part of the ministry of this church?
The ministry of the church is a ministry of people. When a church lives, it lives because the people within are vital and active. When a church dies, it withers and dies not becaseu the brick and mortar and carpet get old but because people’s involvement withers and dies.
I think a vivid illustration of this comes from a true story of a young minister in Oklahoma who went to this little, tough long-standing, church in hopes of really reviving the ministry of it. He had stars in his eyes and great hopes for the future. He thought he could turn it around. And he gave it his best effort and his best shot week after week, to no avail.
Finally, he had one last idea, and it seemed to work. He announced in the local newspaper on Saturday that the church had died, and on Sunday afternoon there would be a funeral service at the church itself, and all who wished could attend. For the first time in his years there, the place was packed. In fact, people were standing outside on tiptoes looking through the window to see this most unusual funeral service for a church.
To their shock, because most of them got there twenty or thirty minutes early to get a seat, there was a casket down front. And it was smothered with flowers. He told the people as soon as the eulogy was finished they could pass by and view the remains of the dearly beloved that they were putting to rest that day. They could hardly wait until he finished the eulogy. He slowly opened the casket, pushed the flowers aside, and people walked by, filed by, one by one, to look in and leave sheepishly, feeling guilty as they walked out the door, because inside the casket he had placed a large mirror. As they walked by, they saw the church that had died.”
Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.
Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. Ephesians 4:11-16
Are you a part of the ministry of this church?
Do you hear them coming, brother,
Thronging up the steeps of light,
Clad in glorious shining garments,
Blood washed, garments pure and white?
’Tis a glorious church without spot or wrinkle,
Washed in the blood of the Lamb;
’Tis a glorious church without spot or wrinkle,
Washed in the blood of the Lamb.
Do you hear the stirring anthems,
Filling all the earth and sky,
’Tis a grand, victorious army,
Lift its banner up on high!
Never fear the clouds of sorrow,
Never fear the storms of sin.
We shall triumph on the morrow,
Even now our joys begin.
Wave the banner, shout His praises,
For our victory is nigh!
We shall join our conqu’ring Savior,
We shall reign with Him on high!
Courageously looking at our future (Next Week)
Multi-site: Spreading the DNA