The Church As A Community Of Love

Dan Bracken // Ginghamsburg Communication Director

Since we’re celebrating 160 years of ministry, I’ve been taking a deep dive into the Ginghamsburg historical archives.

IF I were an actual historian, I probably would’ve known a few things already. For example, the 1946 church merger of Evangelical and United Brethren denominations, making a new EUB (Evangelical United Brethren) denomination.  Having previously been United Brethren, Ginghamsburg became an EUB congregation the same day.

Later, Ginghamsburg would acquire “GUM” as its uncannily sticky nickname parallel to becoming Ginghamsburg United Methodist at the merger of the EUB and Methodist denominations in 1968.

By the way, these historical archives are upstairs at the Tipp City Campus and free to peruse.

Early on, Ginghamsburg was identified as a teaching church. The local seminary would provide a student pastor every two or three years.

1956 was the first full-time pastor. Carl Hahn, Jr. Served two years. A note next to his name says, “for several reasons, we went back to using student pastors.”

I’d really love to know what those reasons were!

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Dwayne Ferguson was one such student pastor, relocating from Des Moines, Iowa to attend seminary. He served Ginghamsburg from 1963-1966 and lead the church through many needed renovations. Pastor Ferguson worked to make sure the building had a restroom and running water – standards necessary for public worship.

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In the time immediately following the EUB/Methodist merger, spiritual growth was slow. New doctrines, documents and disciplines took some getting used to. But a movement of growth started with Pastor James Worley in 1974.

Thoughts on Pastor Worley from Pastor Mike Slaughter were captured in a 1990 issue of Real Talk, The Ginghamsburg Family Newsletter: “In 1975, Jim Worley lifted up Jesus. He began to model the church as a community of love. People began to really see themselves as Christ’s body and began to live that relationship. The laity understood that they are ministers. During these early years of renewal, the lay elders demonstrated the reality of the priesthood of believers. Ginghamsburg has grown in depth, not just in size. People are taking responsibility in all areas of ministry.

Many of these records were kept by our late treasurer, Lucille Heitzman. Before she passed, I had an opportunity to interview her:

In Lucille’s words as documented in the archives, “Our purpose is to introduce people to the reality of Jesus Christ living in them and equipping them to live the resulting victorious life. Every member is a minster through the Holy Spirit who is revealed through gifts given for the purpose of building up the entire body of Christ.” (Edited for clarity)

We are still on a path, my friends. We may change our practice, but our purpose remains.