Dear Old Oak,
Aren't you glad 2020 is over? We have good reason to have hope for the future. Our God is the Redeemer, the God of new beginnings. At the same time, we shouldn't dismiss the hidden value of a difficult year. James 1:2 tells us to count it all joy when we meet trials of various kinds. Our Father lovingly and wisely appointed every trial for His children in 2020. Let's pray that the trials from last year impact us in the way God intends: to refine us and draw us closer to the One who is our Maker, Redeemer, Father, and Friend.
Whatever your stance on 2020, I pray you enjoy a close walk with Christ in 2021. A familiar verse challenged me recently when I read it with a fellow church member: "“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me" (Luke 9:23). Let's follow hard after Jesus every day, leave sin behind, and take hold of the one who is life itself.
Many of you have waited to hear an update concerning the church's future. At our members meeting on December 13, we voted to approve the merge with Grantwood Community Church and form The Church at West Creek. We also approved the new church's constitution, statement of faith, church covenant, and 2021 budget.
The Church at West Creek will launch on January 17 and meet at 2707 Grantwood Dr. Parma, OH 44134 (Grantwood Community Church's current location). I (Steve) will serve as co-lead pastor alongside Paul Morrison. Bill Barbee from Old Oak and Walt Blanchard from Grantwood will serve as the other two elders.
We announced our intention to sell our building at our members meeting in September. We can now announce that the sale will finalize within the next week or so. We saw the Lord's hand throughout the process and thank Him that we will have enough to cover our debts, as well as have a good financial foundation for the new church. If you purchased church bonds when we refinanced five years ago, you will receive all money back, including the interest you have accrued to this point.
These announcements are mainly for the friends of Old Oak who want to stay connected. We understand that various circumstances have kept people away recently. But if these announcements come as a shock, you should know that this has been a several month process with consistent communication to the members of Old Oak. If you are not plugged in to a gospel-preaching church as a meaningful member of it, please take steps to do that this year. We'd love for you to be part of us.
The process that brought us to this point began at our members meeting in September. We gave a thorough explanation for why we did not reopen the day care, began to pursue selling the building, and began to explore merging with another church. In October, Paul and I swapped pulpits, as we each preached at the other's church. We had a question and answer time at both churches with the elders from both churches. We had a joint church picnic at Grantwood's building. In November, a transition team composed of members from both churches met twice to give feedback to the elders' plans for the new church. As stated above, we voted last month to make the merge official and gave more time for questions.
All this change brings a wide range of emotions. As one who has spent literally his entire life going to Old Oak's building, part of my heart breaks that we'll no longer meet there. Yet, God has also filled my heart with thankfulness and hope. I thank God for the grace He has shown to us in the ministry that took place in that building. I thank God for sustaining His people through trial after trial. I thank God also that He has provided a way for Old Oak to remain together and start something new. I have hope that alongside the brothers and sisters at Grantwood, that God can grow all of us at The Church at West Creek more into the image of Christ. I have hope that He can use us together to model Christ to the world around us and reach more of the lost in Northeast Ohio and beyond.
The Apostle Paul's prayer for the Christians in Rome fits our occasion: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope (Rom. 15:13).Old Oak has come to the close of one chapter, but the book isn't over. We look back in thankfulness at our Father's faithfulness in previous chapters. We look forward in trust and hope that our Mighty Redeemer will not leave us in the next chapter. May the name of Christ shine through us like never before at The Church at West Creek. Will you join us?