“Living Water” Flows Again! - Issue #218 (January 23, 2015)
This is an excerpt from a PDF download. To download the full text of this document click: “Living Water” Flows Again!
In the early twentieth century, Magnetic Springs, Ohio, grew to about 3,000 people when a local man discovered the mineral spring water had curative powers. A century later, the local elementary school had closed, and the population had shrunk to 300 people. The majority of the population struggled with daily life, experiencing hopelessness and despair. Children walked up and down the streets, teasing, bullying, and fighting one another because they believed that there was nothing else to do.
When a new pastor arrived at Magnetic Springs UMC, she looked around, did some demographic research, and walked the streets with a former mayor to talk with the people. As the pastor and people prayed, a vision emerged. The congregation felt called to be like Abraham and Sarah and “raise a child.” The church began to offer some activities for children and youth – a place to gather, to play, and to participate in projects. And the children came! Soon the children came on Sunday morning, and the adults in town followed. The church began baptizing children and their parents! A church that had no connection with the poor became the spark for community transformation.
In 2014 the West Ohio Rural Advocates awarded the district Vital Church Award to Magnetic Springs UMC. New ministry ideas continue to emerge. Unexpected resources and opportunities keep coming to the church. Area churches bring their vans and buses to take youth on field trips. A county garden club has weeded and planted the Main Street. A 120-voice choir gave a concert, camped out on the church lawn, and then painted the church the next day!
New people are now engaged in the congregation and taking on leadership responsibility. They feel surrounded by support, trust, and encouragement. Most importantly, the people in the church and community have hope again, and they initiate interaction with visitors and with one another. The pastor says, “The transformation of the town of Magnetic Springs is a clear sign that we are all part of something bigger than we are.”
Questions for Reflection
- When you look outside your church, what needs are not being met?
- With whom can your congregation form partnerships in ministry?
- How can your church support and encourage another congregation that is transforming their area?