Turn-Around Church Hosts NECF Meeting
The Northeast region was blessed this spring as Central Congregational Church in Middleborough, Massachusetts hosted our regional fellowship’s annual meeting. Our Conference Minister Rev Dr. Ron Hamilton brought the day’s messages with the theme of “My Burden Is Light— taking the drudgery out of ministry.” The messages were followed by times of group discussion and opportunity for question and answer. There were a number of takeaways that day that encouraged and equipped us for ministry in these times.
Central Congregational provided the worship time, scrumptious food and were the gracious host for a time that blessed everyone in attendance. If you knew the history of Central Congregation Church, you would say that this was a true miracle of God.
When Pastor Bruce Smith was called to the church in 2004 the church was down to eight people. The same day that those eight people voted to not close the church they voted to call Pastor Bruce to be their pastor. No search committee, no best practices of how to find and call a pastor, not knowing if the pastor was available, but they acted solely on faith and one person’s recommendation that their son-in-law was a pastor and perhaps they might want to contact him.
They phoned him that day to say that they had voted to extend a call to him to pastor the church. They did not know that he had just given his church notice that he would be leaving. He himself was going not knowing.
The storybook tale that everything went perfectly upon his arrival did not play out. After five years of steady growth the church had a devastating fire and was destroyed. Out of those ashes God has raised up a church that is a blessing to the community, a blessing to the region, and a blessing to the Conference.
In Pastor Bruce Smith’s words “Our story is a story of God’s grace and the glory belongs to Him for anything good that has taken place during our time in Middleboro. When I look back on the work that he’s done over the last 15 years (September will mark that), I’m as amazed as anyone when it comes to the story of transformation that we’ve seen unfold before our eyes.
In terms of our first Sunday, there were 8 others who were not from our family (we brought 8 from our family which gave us an amazing percentage of growth on week one). I have been told that during that summer there were some Sundays when there were only six people present during morning worship.
I was extended a call in August of 2004 and began ministry in September. We steadily grew until our fire in May, 2009. Last month marked ten years since that event. We got back into the building on Christmas Eve 2011 and we have now grown to the point where we average between 300-330 on a typical Sunday. Obviously, these are the barebones of the story – the Lord has given the congregation so many faithful servants who have been used in countless ways to make a huge difference for Christ and his gospel in our community.”
Our Conference is blessed and encouraged by these stories of turnaround churches that have been revitalized for Christ.