UPDATE: What's Happening At Renewal Church?

Ten years ago, in May of 2013, we had the wonderful opportunity to plant a church in the North Tonawanda community in Niagara County, NY. It was a journey that taught me more than I ever expected it to and a process that grew me in my faith in Christ, restored me in my hope in the local church, and awakened me from the inside out for loving those in the community surrounding our church building. The church we planted came to be called Renewal Church. And now, after a decade of ministry, the tough decision has been made, that Easter Sunday 2023 will be its final service.

Looking back across the last decade, there are so many people… so many lives that have been affected by the ministry there on Meadow Drive. We are so grateful for what God has done to send out so many young men and women from this assembly of faith over the years. Some went to pursue seminary degrees, some went to get married and move to new employment opportunities, and others continue to meaningfully serve in companion communities of faith here in WNY. The church was viable and strong for many years, but the financial implications of a large facility and a small congregation following the Covid-19 pandemic eventually became too much to bear.

Renewal Church as we know it, will close its doors following the Easter service, but many of the remaining congregants will be uniting with iHope Community Church, another church of like faith there in North Tonawanda. Matt Richbart and the iHope Church leadership are committed to receiving well and caring well for the people that make up Renewal. The church is not a building. The church is a congregation, the people of God, the flock of Christ. Throughout a good portion of the New Testament, the Apostle Peter and the Apostle Paul were always reminding early church leaders of the utmost importance of their role in caring for the sheep. We are so grateful that this was a priority for the transition team, and that they made arrangements for how to prioritize caring for the flock.

The Renewal Church facilities and all the physical assets located there on Meadow Drive will be given over to the Frontier Baptist Association to determine next steps. An Administrative Team of Baptist pastors from various locations in WNY will serve alongside Mike Flannery, the Associational Missionary responsible for the FBA, in expediting a series of choices regarding the future of the facility. The goal of the FBA will be to steward the resources well, both for the sake of church planting in WNY and for advancing the Kingdom of God through the people of God.

Please be in prayer with us for this transition. While there is some irony in writing the words "Renewal will be closing on Easter Sunday," let us not be fixated on the dreams we may have had for how exactly God might work in a region. God's ways are not our ways. Clearly, the first Easter, Resurrection Sunday, was all about the unexpected ways God chooses to interact with the world He spoke into existence. Pray with me that God will do something unexpected with what we offer Him. Pray with me that whatever we see here withering away from the church that planted a decade ago would give way to something new that Jesus would do even more with, all to the Glory of God!

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!  

- Pastor Milo


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