May 17, 2017GOODLAND TWP. — The congregation at the newly-formed Goodland Community Church is looking ahead and not behind.
Church leaders will host an introductory open house, which includes food, refreshments and social time on Saturday, May 20 starting at 5 p.m.
The community event will be followed at 7 p.m. by a youth concert, featuring the James Robert Band.
On Sunday, May 21, congregation members and visitors are invited to attend a dedication ceremony during the regular 10 a.m. Sunday worship services.
Sadness to optimism
When the hierarchy of the United Methodist Church decided last year to discontinue support for the Goodland congregation, many felt abandoned.
But rather than lament the situation, a core of 25-30 resolute members decided to reorganize and form their own (non-denominational) church at same location at 2008 N. Van Dyke Rd.
Goodland Community Church Pastor Chad Hampton (center) is joined by church members Bob VanDenBerg and Ron Cischke for a photo in front of 148-year-old Methodist Church, still used for special occasions. photo by Tom Wearing.
Included among that group were local community/church leaders Bob VanDenBerg, Gary Ostrom and Ron Cischke.
Putting their initial feelings of rejection behind them, the men were quickly joined by others in their shared effort to unite former church members and attract new ones.
"They never fully explained to us why they wanted to close the church," VanDenBerg recalled, though he and others surmised it was likely a matter of economics.
Cischke suggested that the deaths of two former pastors (Jim Bartlett and Don Mosher) from heart attacks while in service to the United Methodist church may have factored into the decision.
"It might not have been the reason for our closing," said Cischke, "but it probably didn't help."
He pointed out that after the church's last full-time pastor (Mosher) died, Methodist church leaders failed to provide a longterm successor.
"They left us—we didn't leave them," Ostrom said. "When we closed, we were told no more sermons. Anything that said 'Methodist' on it, including hymnals and Bibles, had to be returned to the church in Adrian, Missouri."
A New Beginning
While the closing of West Goodland United Methodist Church caused considerable angst, it also provided former church-goers an opportunity to come together and create a new non-denominational church.
"We decided we wanted to keep our church family together," said VanDenBerg. "We accepted that challenge and now we continue to work together to better serve the community. It's like a blessing in disguise."
Cischke, who also serves as Goodland Township's Supervisor, also looks optimistically to the future of the Goodland Community Church.
"We actually feel relieved, because now we're in charge of our own destiny," said Cischke. "We're still in the transition process, but we're changing.
"We want to be able to attract youth and other new members to help the church grow," he said. "Youth are the backbone of any church."
Ostrom said he shares Cischke's and the others' optimism and hopes for the newly-formed church.
"We can't dwell on the past," said Ostrom. "This is a new and fresh beginning for us."
Pastor a perfect fit
Ostrom, VanDenBerg, and Cischke stand united in their support for Pastor Chad Hampton, Goodland Community Church's newly-installed spiritual leader.
Hampton, 39, and his wife, Joi, have a 5-year-old son, Elijah, with another child on the way.
"He's young, a people person and is committed to helping make the church an important part of all of our lives," said VanDenBerg. "He's a perfect fit for us. And we can all grow together."
Hampton arrived at the Goodland church in mid-December, first assuming the duties of "interim pastor."
It didn't take long for him to realize that the Goodland Community Church was a perfect fit for him, too.
"My uncle, Ron Hutchinson is the pastor at North Branch United Methodist," Hampton recalled. "He told me about the situation here in Goodland last September. So I called the church and talked to Ruthie Cischke who convinced me to consider the opportunity.
"When I first arrived, I wasn't really focused on being here over the longterm," said Hampton. "But they needed a pastor and shepherd, which attracted me.
"I soon realized that the people at this church are just wonderful," he said. "They built this church with their own hands. They love God and they love one another. It was then that I began to think about staying here longterm."
Hampton said he was initially concerned that his new flock might not accepting of his preaching style.
"I knew I would be different from their former pastors," he said. "For me, it's less about the religion and more about the relationships we have with Christ.
"I don't view the church as just a building," Hampton continued. "A church is the people who come together to worship Jesus.
"It's a blessing for me and my family to be part of our new church family," said Hampton.
The Goodland Community Church is located at 2008 N. Van Dyke Rd.
Sunday worship is at 10 a.m. and Bible studies take place on Wednesdays at 6 p.m.
For questions or information, call Pastor Hampton at 810-724-1747, or email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tom Wearing started at the Tri-City Times in 1989, covering the Village of Capac as a beat reporter. He later served stints as assistant editor and editor. Today, he covers Imlay City and Almont as a staff writer. He enjoys music and plays drums and sings with various musical groups in the Detroit Metropolitan area.