Over the past two years, 2021-2023, the Lord has directed the United Brethren Church toward starting churches in Arizona and Pennsylvania. Both plants have taken root and are making an impact in their communities, which are very different.
Through our partnership with Stadia, National Ministries director Mike Dittman and Andy Sikora, associate director of Church Planting, linked up with Nate Sams to start Known Church in Surprise, Ariz. (not far from the Huntington University campus in Peoria). Bishop Todd Fetters and Andy flew out to Arizona to meet with Nate in January 2022.
Bishop Fetters recalls, “Nate took us around the area, and it was neat to see the Peoria/Surprise region through his eyes and heart. Nate and his team met every Sunday in March at an elementary school in Surprise. Then, on April 3, 2022, Known Church held its public launch at the school. They had 65 people for that first service, and are now seeing about 50 people each Sunday.”
In March 2023, Bishop Fetters visited Nate Sams and attended the weekend service at Known Church. He also attended chapel at the Huntington University campus in Peoria, where Nate serves as campus pastor.
Nate Sams and his family attended the 2023 National Conference. He said the church is currently in transition. The school where they had been meeting lacks air-conditioning, which is not something you want to be without during summers in Arizona (today, July 18, Phoenix hit 110+ degrees for the 19th straight day!). So they are looking for a new place, and waiting for God to provide.
In Pennsylvania, 80 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, Dan Reed is planting Harvest Mill Church in the town of Brookville, population 4000. Dan had nearly 30 people in a core group. While they currently meet in an old mill, the Lord has opened the door for Harvest Mill to meet in the local high school. They have a core leadership team of about 25, and are seeing 40-50 people attend on Sunday. Dan had been a long-term substitute teacher in Brookville, but is now focusing on the church plant.
Bishop Fetters says, “Our team has an ‘all of the above’ approach to church planting.”
In addition to the two more traditional church plants, we have three “simple church” (or micro-church) networks underway.
- Christopher Little V is leading United House Network in Harrisburg, Pa.
- Mike Dittman is leading Journey Communities Network in Commerce, Mich.
- Rick Tawney is leading Renew Communities-Columbus in Ohio. There, First UB church has expanded its vision of its building to become “The Hilltop Hub.” Rick will provide leadership to a network of ministries that operate out of that building, including two churches. He was stationed as the pastor of First UB upon the retirement of Rev. Al Carter.
During the National Conference, Bishop Fetters led a workshop which included a panel of church planters–Nate Sams, Dan Reed, Rick Tawney, and Christopher Little V.
Says Bishop Fetters, “Our first-ever Simple Church Summit, with 28 participants, was held at the Hilltop Hub during 2022. These creative expressions of the Church are unique in their approach and reflect the UBIC’s enduring commitments to the Gospel, Unity, and Mission.”