Colette M. Jenkins


STOW: The Rev. Laurel Bobb is committed to building a congregation based on relationships.



“We are mission oriented, not building oriented. The people involved in our congregation covenant to be part of a small group and each small group is focused on a mission that furthers our overall goal, which is also our mission statement — ‘Reaching Everyone with the Love of Christ for Worship and Relationship,’?” said Bobb, pastor of Resurrection Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Western Reserve.



The congregation is inviting community members to an open house at its new (and first) church building, located at 1981 Graham Road (on the Stow City Center campus, adjacent to City Hall). The event, which will run from noon to 2:30 p.m. next Saturday, includes a free lunch, tours and activities. A special dedication worship service will begin at 3 p.m., followed by a cake reception.



Bobb and about five other Stow and Kent residents — all who left the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America because of theological differences — established Resurrection in 2009. The group initially met at Bobb’s home and eventually moved to the community room at the Stow Safety Service Center. In December, the congregation purchased its current building from Bill Monbeck Realty Inc.



The realty company had converted the building — originally built as the church home of the Stow Calvary Chapel — into office space. Resurrection bought the building (which had been empty for about two years) for $175,000, according to Summit County property records. The congregation is renovating the worship space.



Charlotte Hiller, whose family was part of the Calvary Chapel congregation, is elated that the building is again home to a church. Hiller, along with other family members, attended a worship service at Resurrection shortly after the congregation moved in.



“It was quite an experience to go in and see that building again. It was a reminder of what we started a long time ago,” said Hiller, 75. “The members built that church with their own hands. I remember my father coming home from work at B.F. Goodrich at about 1 o’clock. He’d have lunch and then head over to the church to help dig the footers. The members back then put their hearts and souls and faith into that building.



“Now, there is another group of very faithful people in there,” Hiller said. “My heart will always be with that church because I have such fond memories. We were a family — we worked together, played together, ate together and worshipped together. It was disappointing when the church sat empty, but the warmth is back.”



Resurrection is affiliated with the Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (www.lcmc.net). The LCMC denomination was founded in 2001, in response to an agreement between the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Episcopal Church. The agreement — Called to Common Mission — established full communion between the two denominations and represented what some in the Lutheran church considered a move toward the left.



Since then, LCMC has accepted some of the congregations that left the ELCA. Other disassociated congregations have become part of the North American Lutheran Church, which was formed shortly after a vote in 2009 by ELCA leadership to allow gays to serve as clergy.



Bishop’s response



Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, who presides over the Cuyahoga Falls-based Northeastern Ohio Synod of the ELCA, said she wishes the new congregation well. Before founding Resurrection, Bobb served in the local synod.



“I hope that God blesses their ministry and that they preach the gospel because the world needs to hear about Jesus,” Eaton said.



Sharon Gsellman, one of the founders of Resurrection, said the small congregation, which attracts about 30 people to its 10 a.m. Sunday worship services, is focused on walking in faith.



“We believe God has a purpose for us being in the middle of the city. We are trying to discern what God is calling us to do and to fulfill that mission,” Gsellman said. “We are a small group of people who think God’s way works. Our strength is in our loving people. We really want to get to know people, love them, support them and encourage them to grow in their faith.”



In addition to its worship service, the church offers Sunday School at 9 a.m. A youth group, for students in middle school and high school, meets at 6 p.m. Wednesdays and activities for elementary school-age children are offered twice a month on Thursdays. Vacation Bible School, co-sponsored by Stow Community United Church of Christ, is 9 a.m. to noon June 17-21. The church also plans to offer Financial Peace University in the fall.



For more information about Resurrection, call 330-689-1045 or visit its Facebook page.



Colette Jenkins can be reached at 330-996-3731 or cjenkins@thebeaconjournal.com. She can be followed at https://twitter.com/ColetteMJenkins.