STREETSBORO: Frost Road Chapel has a new name.
It is now Venture Church — one of two campuses in the first multisite church initiative in the Primitive Methodist Church. The second site is located in Boardman Township at the former Glenwood Christian Fellowship Church.
“This has never been done in our denomination, so it could become a model that other churches may consider in the future to help make their congregations stronger,” said the Rev. Chris Kuzma, campus pastor in Streetsboro. “We have joined, or merged, to become one church. We are a new ministry and there is a new spirit of excitement.”
Leadership at the two churches began the merger process a little more than a year ago. At that time, the Streetsboro church — which was attracting about 18 people to its Sunday worship service — reached out to the stronger Boardman church, which attracts an average of 125 worshippers. During the last year, the number at the Streetsboro location has climbed to about 50.
Dennis Monegan, a church elder and member at the Streetsboro site since 1980, said the merger has been a positive move. He said although it is still a work in progress, the people in the pews seem to believe that “the Lord’s leading us.
“Like with any change, there were some concerns in the beginning; but, overall, it’s been well received,” Monegan said. “Our church voted 100 percent in favor of the merger, and I believe everyone is happy that we did because things are going well.”
In March, the Pittsburgh district of the Primitive Methodist Church voted in favor of the merger and two months later, the denomination approved it. The two churches officially became one last month and new signs were placed in front of both churches on Friday.
“This has brought a new sense of unity. In this day and age, congregations — even within denominations — relate in more of a competitive way,” said the Rev. Nathan Doyle, Venture’s lead pastor. “For us, in Streetsboro and in Boardman, we are truly one church. Success in Streetsboro is success in Boardman and success in Boardman is success in Streetsboro.”
Doyle, 39, has served as pastor of the Boardman church since 2004. Kuzma, 47, has served at the Streetsboro church since August 2012 and came to the Boardman church as an associate pastor in 2011.
The merger allows both sites to share resources, including finances and the gifts and talents of members and pastors.
Kuzma, who has a background in business, will focus on most of the church’s administrative work.
Doyle, who has a strong preaching and teaching background, will deliver most of the sermons at the Boardman location. His messages will be viewed live, via video, at the Streetsboro site.
The two pastors agree that technology will play an important role in bridging the distance between the two church sites.
“It’s reminiscent of how the church started. [The Apostle] Paul would start a church and move on to another location but continue to pastor by writing letters to the early church communities. If he had video, he would have videotaped his message and sent it by DVD,” Doyle said. “Our merger may lead to the planting of other churches in the Pittsburgh-Cleveland corridor of our denomination.”
As separate entities, the two churches have enjoyed a long relationship as the only two Primitive Methodist churches in Northeast Ohio. Doyle’s grandfather served as pastor at the Streetsboro church for about 18 years beginning in the 1960s.
The Primitive Methodist Church in the United States of America, a conservative Protestant denomination (based in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.) began in England in 1811. Its founders, Hugh Bourne and William Clowes, were expelled from the Wesleyan Methodist Connection for organizing camp meetings and encouraging lay participation.
The denomination spread to the U.S. after missionaries of the Primitive Methodist Church of England settled in 1829. The American church separated from the British church in 1840 and the English church merged into The Methodist Church in England in 1932.
Worship services, programs
Venture Church, which also has a relationship with Glendale, Ariz.-based Venture Church, is now the denomination’s only church in Northeast Ohio. It offers contemporary worship services with high energy music and traditional hymns, which are led by a praise band. Its ministries include those for children, youth and seniors. The church also offers men’s and women’s ministries, an addiction recovery program and small groups for prayer, Bible study and discussion.
Sunday worship services are at 10:45 a.m. in Streetsboro and 9 and 10:45 a.m. in Boardman. Both locations also offer 6 p.m. Wednesday services. The Wednesday night format at the Streetsboro site includes dinner and Bible study for all age groups.
“We chose the name Venture because it means a daring and bold adventure,” said Kuzma. “What we are doing is something new and it’s a little risky. But our goal is to do something bold for the Lord each day.”