Several years ago, Gary Jackson, pastor of Friendship Baptist Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, did a Google search for Faith Baptist Church in Ottawa, Ohio, and ended up on this site. The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser is a first- or second-page search result when someone searches for Faith Baptist. I have featured Faith several times in the series On The Road Looking For God’s True Church.
After reading a handful of posts, Jackson decided to send me an email. In the email, Jackson stated that it was G-O-D who “led” him to this blog. Actually, it was Google, not God, that sent the good pastor my way. I understand Jackson’s confusion. When confronted with an unanswered question, my family will seek the answer from God — God being Google. Perhaps Jackson, as the Gerencser family does, confuses Google with God. Just kidding. The Gerencser family KNOWS Google and God are one and the same. Jackson’s God? She has never answered a prayer, or a trivia question, for that matter. When I wanted to find out who Gary Jackson was, I didn’t pray. Instead, I contacted the all-seeing, all-knowing Google — praise be to the search algorithm.
Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.
As Polly and I travel the roads of Northwest Ohio and Southeast Indiana, we are always on the lookout for God’s True Church®. Here are a few of the churches we stumbled upon in recent weeks.
Faith Baptist Church, Ottawa, Ohio. (No pastor name listed, no website) Faith Baptist asks passersby, Noah’s Ark — Fact or Fantasy? The correct answer is FANTASY, but something tells me that Faith Baptist congregants believe otherwise. If the goal of slogan-driven church signs is to evangelize passersby, shouldn’t this sign say, Jesus Love YOU?
Living Stones Fellowship, McComb, Ohio, Rick Rowe, pastor. Living Stones Fellowship is a “non-denominational, family-oriented church.” Living Stones is affiliated with Foundation Ministries U.S.A. — a charismatic Evangelical fellowship. Living Stones wants passersby to know that humans have “whims” but God has “plans.” Anyone who has bothered to read the Bible knows that many of God’s “plans” are quite “whimsical.” God creates humans and then drowns all of them in a flood — save eight people. God creates humans, only to then have them disobey him, forcing God to send himself to earth to provide a blood atonement for the very people he created. Sure sounds whimsical to me.
I actually preached at this church in the early 1990s. At that time, the building was owned by a Reformed Baptist congregation. Rick Yockey, a man I met at a Pastor’s Fellowship in Mansfield, Ohio was the pastor. Yockey had an affair. He was married to a woman I attended church with in the 1970s — Trinity Baptist Church, Findlay, Ohio. Yockey, now divorced, is a mortgage loan officer for Fifth Third Bank.
Emanuel’s Christian Church, New Bavaria, Ohio, Joseph Kost, pastor. Emanuel’s Christian Church is affiliated with the Evangelical Association of Reformed and Congregational Christian Churches. Wow, that’s a mouthful. Emanuel’s Christian Church is anti-abortion, anti-same-sex marriage, anti-homosexuality, and anti-premarital sex. In other words, it is just another generic Evangelical church that thinks it is special. After all this congregation is Emanuel’s [Jesus’] Church. In 2005, due to perceived liberalism within the United Church of Christ (UCC), Emanuel’s Church left the UCC and joined up with the EA. In recent years, numerous area mainline churches has made similar moves. Liberal churches are as rare as an ivory-billed woodpecker. It is not uncommon to find graduates of decidedly Evangelical colleges pastoring mainline churches.
Sign painted on nose of TJ Propane, Weston, Ohio gas storage tank. What is the question?
True Believers Fellowship, Holgate, Ohio, Wendell and Jean Blackburn, pastors. True Believers’ Facebook page says that the church is a charismatic congregation. I wonder, have we finally found God’s True Church®? TRUE believers, not like all those FALSE believers in other churches.
Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, Fort Wayne, Indiana. (No church website) Gloria Dei is affiliated with the The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod — the Fundamentalist wing of the Lutheran church. At one time, this church met on Thursdays at 7:00 PM. The church now meets at 7:00 PM on Wednesdays. Not wanting to spend the Lord’s money on an attractive sign, someone in the congregation put masking over Thursday, and with a felt marker wrote Wednesday. Good job!
Sherwood United Methodist Church, Sherwood, Ohio, Aric Clark, pastor. According to its website, Sherwood United Methodist Church “reaches out to the hungry in body or spirit.” The church does have a significant food pantry ministry, so kudos to them . Sherwood United Methodist’s sign says that Christian faith takes people beyond what their eyes can see. How, then, can people “know” where they are? I choose to walk through life with my eyes wide open — no faith needed. Faith says humans have a soul. Reason, the enemy of faith, says humans have a brain. I choose to use my intellect to guide me through this life. Again, no faith needed.
As Polly and I travel the roads of Northwest Ohio and Southeast Indiana, we are always on the lookout for God’s True Church®. Here are a few of the churches we stumbled upon in recent months.
Coburn Corners Church of Christ, St. Joe, Indiana. Hey you, yes you, Lose Jesus? I don’t have Jesus, but good luck finding him.
Faith Baptist Church, Ottawa, Ohio. Damn, since Jesus is dead, this means there is no hope for anyone.
St. Peter Lutheran Church, Ridgeville Corners, Ohio. St. Peter Lutheran is associated with the Evangelical Lutheran Churches in America (ELCA). This sign is on U.S. Hwy 6. Nearby, travelers will find roadside shrines erect to memorialize people killed in accidents. Evidently God forgot to send his angels to protect these people.
North Leo is a mixed crowd. Some grew up in this church or in other Mennonite churches, some come to North Leo from other faith traditions, some come to North Leo from no faith background at all – but have discovered the grace of God and found a loving community where they can grow. Diversity is a healthy thing. God created us to be in community and God also created each of us as unique individuals. North Leo Mennonite Church is a family where your experiences, perspectives, and ideas are welcome and valued.
Most people don’t really know what a Mennonite is. There are a lot of ideas. The simplest way to describe the Mennonite Faith is to say that we are Christ-Centered. We take all of Scripture seriously, but we look to Jesus’ life and teaching as our clearest example of what God is like and how God invites us to live. We believe that God created the world and said it is good. We believe that sin creates brokeness in our relationship with God, in our relationships with each other, sin creates brokeness in us, and in our world. We believe that Jesus offers reconciliation and restoration from all our brokeness. We believe God is still at work in the world. We believe in eternal life through Jesus that begins here and now. We believe that Jesus is coming back again. Until that day comes we are called to share with others the love, grace, mercy and forgiveness that God has given us – because God is all about putting broken things back together again and we get to be a part of it.
If this sign is true, most of the seven billion people on earth live worthless lives.
Frontier Baptist Church, Frontier, Michigan, Terry Farwell, pastor. Frontier Baptist is associated with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). I prayed my last prayer in November 2008. Since then, I have never had a day where I felt the need to pray. I have found that my time is better spent doing things that actually make a difference.
Madison Church of God, somewhere in Northwest Ohio.
Hello to all and much love. My name is Melvin Heiniger and I am the pastor at Green Chapel Redeemed Church. Thank you so much for taking 5 minutes to visit our website. I truly believe that every individual must evaluate their life. and make one very important decision . What will happen to me when I pass from this life? Will I go to a place called Heaven, or wind up in a place called hell where there awaits only suffering and pain. Some may say that if we do good things, we will go to heaven. According to the Bible, That is not so.
Romans 3:23 states, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
1 John 1:8-9 says, “if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I guess now we know that we all make mistakes.
Now for the Great news! John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish but have everlasting life.” Wow… isn’t it nice to know we don’t have to worry anymore! Romans 10:13 says “for whosoever shall call upon the name of the lord, shall be saved.” That “Whosoever” means YOU!!
I must ask, do you know Jesus as your Lord and savior? If not, do you want to? Is something inside of you saying “this feels right?” I hope you will say this little prayer with me and accept Jesus!
Just say, Jesus, I repent of my sins and make you my lord. I believe you came and died for me. Then arose that I could make Heaven my home. Help me be what you have called me to be!!!
Congratulations. You are now a Christian!
Welcome to the family of God! Please feel free to call and share your life changing experience with me! God bless and keep you!
Good news! I prayed the prayer and I am now a — drum roll, please — Christian!
Lakeview United Methodist Church, somewhere on a back road in Northeast Indiana, Michael Lamarr, pastor.
The church does not have a website. I have awarded Lakeview the Crooked Lettering of the Year Award, given to the church that can’t be bothered to cash in a certificate of deposit to pay for a professionally lettered sign.
Lick Creek Church of the Brethren, Bryan, Ohio, Dr. Nancy Berkheiser, interim pastor. Organized in 1853 — the first church organization in Williams County — Lick Creek is known for “steak suppers, homemade ice cream and made from scratch apple dumplings.”
According to the church’s website, Lick Creek “follows the teaching of Jesus.” The church’s mission is to “provide spiritual direction, unity and purpose to all people by continuing the work of Jesus Christ peacefully, simply, together.”
If I were asked to give advice to this church, I would tell them…immediately, without delay, gather up the book the stupid sign message came from and burn it. Baseball bears no resemblance to Lent and Easter. In the future, THINK before putting a lame message on the sign. Hint: 99.99 percent of church sign messages are lame. Don’t make it easy for unbelievers to make fun of your sign. Will the Lick Creek church listen? Of course not. Putting stupid ass messages and clichés on church signs is the in thing to do.
Movement Church, Glenwood Middle School, Findlay, Ohio, Eric Ferguson, lead pastor. Movement Church is a cool, hip Evangelical church for millennials (based on photos on the church’s website). According to Movement’s website, the church is:
a place for people to learn more about God, no matter what stage he or she is at in seeking God. The church places a strong emphasis on connecting to the community with outreach and volunteer projects.
Movement Church, similar to countless other Evangelical churches established over the past two decades, wants to put a friendly face on Christianity. However, as country folks will tell you, you can’t turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse, and Movement Church — based on their doctrinal statement — is no different theologically than nearby Fundamentalist churches Trinity Baptist Church and Calvary Baptist Church. Behind the nice smiles and promises of kindness and servanthood lies commitment to the inerrancy of scripture and the eternal damnation of all those who refuse to join the movement.
Faith Baptist Church, Ottawa, Ohio. No pastor name or website available.
Faith of the Apostles Church, Paw Paw, Michigan, David Harn, pastor. Faith of the Apostles periodically has a service called Jammin for Jesus — a diverse worship experience you won’t want to miss. According the church’s website, Faith of the Apostles members believe:
WE BELIEVE the Bible to be the infallible Word of God.
WE BELIEVE in JESUS ONLY, the visible expression of the invisible God.
WE BELIEVE in one God whose Name is JESUS, who is Father in Creation, Son in Redemption and Holy Ghost the Comforter.
WE BELIEVE in water baptism by immersion in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.
WE BELIEVE in receiving the Holy Ghost evidenced by speaking in other tongues as on the day of Pentecost.
WE BELIEVE in living a Holy and Sanctified life apart from which one cannot please God.
WE BELIEVE in the Rapture, when our Lord Jesus Christ will appear to catch away His Church.
WE BELIEVE in the Resurrection of the dead and the Final Judgment wherein all who were not in the first resurrection will be judged according to the deeds done in the body.
WE BELIEVE in a real HEAVEN with Eternal Life and a real HELL with Eternal Damnation.
Based on their statement of beliefs, I suspect Faith of the Apostles is some sort of Jesus-only apostolic or Pentecostal church.
Redeemer Covenant Church, Arlington, Ohio, Caleb Hackworth, pastor. Redeemer is a Reformed (Calvinistic) Baptist church affiliated with FIRE — Fellowship of Independent Reformed Evangelicals. Buzz words abound: Reformed, Baptistic, Congregational, Integrated Family Worship, Word of God Preached with Authority — Producing Real Worship and Community. The church is currently studying the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Redeemer is also a part of the Northwest Ohio Reformation Society and the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. Put it all together and what you end up with is a Calvinistic, Independent, theologically Fundamentalist Baptist church.