A Vision to Fill a Void
Habakkuk 2:1-4 Common English Bible (CEB)
I will take my post;
I will position myself on the fortress.
I will keep watch to see what the Lord says to me
and how he will respond to my complaint.
The Lord responds
2 Then the Lord answered me and said,
Write a vision, and make it plain upon a tablet
so that a runner can read it.
3 There is still a vision for the appointed time;
it testifies to the end;
it does not deceive
If it delays, wait for it;
for it is surely coming; it will not be late.
4 Some people’s desires are truly audacious;
they don’t do the right thing.
But the righteous person will live honestly
Similarly to Habakkuk, God gave the executive officers and committee of the Allegheny West Conference a vision. Responding to a survey that revealed the median age of Seventh-day Adventists in the Columbia Union was a little over 60, the President of Allegheny West Conference, Dr. William T. Cox, the administrative officers and executive committee came to the unfortunate global realization that they were losing their young people and young adults. They then went to work to see what could be done to re-engage this population.
As they entered into their “think tank” an interesting fact emerged. Of the 25 top cities in population in North America, five of them (Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Dayton) were located in the Allegheny West territory.
The vision began to take form. The question was, “What can we do to grow our young people and young adults.” And from that question came the vision to plant a church in Columbus, Ohio, in the vicinity of Ohio State University, that targeted young adults. In conversing with Dr. Cox he explained that though the focus of the project will be getting young adults involved in church, it is not exclusive in that every age group will be represented by way of support groups.
In developing the vision for this new church project, a key element was understanding the mindset of this generation; they think differently; they approach life differently and have a different set of core values. With this in mind, one such element that came in consideration was understanding and defining the difference between principle and tradition. Dr. Cox, explained that our church operates on principle and tradition. A goal of this new vision, would be through the institution of the church to bring our young adults and young people to understand that principle doesn’t change. However, “when tradition doesn’t come in conflict with principle, tradition will not skew the paradigm for meeting the needs of this new young adult church.” An example of principle and tradition is the time set for Sabbath School or Church Service. The generally set time of 9:00 is a tradition– not a principle.
Columbus, Ohio was chosen as the first location for this young adult church plant because it is one of the fastest growing cities and because of the presence of Ohio State University. It is a hub for young adults. Though Columbus is one of the largest and fastest growing cities, it still offers “small town values” which are important for millennials when considering where they will raise their families.
In order to avoid a migration from existing churches, the leadership team of Pastors John Coaxum, Senior Pastor, and Max Gomez, Multi-cultural Pastor,
have begun compiling a register of young adults who are not attending church anywhere in the city. Because young adults tend to be more attached to projects than institutions, the enthusiasm and anticipation for the vision has already begun.
Allegheny West Conference was the recipient of the Office of Regional Conference Ministry (ORCM) Summer Internship Program. They are utilizing this internship to bring on graduating senior, Max Gomez who will spend his first two weeks with summer camp and then continue with his pastoral responsibilities in the new young adult church plant.
President Cox concluded our discussion by stating, “We are excited. We are praying and will certainly covet the prayers of others. We feel this will be a ministry that will help us enhance the ministry to our young adults in Allegheny West and Columbia Union.
Submitted by Jill Edmond