Hope UMC lends helping hand to support Edge Point


    Each year New Church Development starts new churches and works with existing churches on new things. Fellowship United Methodist Church located in Dallas, Ga., was chosen by the Rome-Carrollton Strategic Growth Team as a “Next Step” initiative by the district because it is located in a strategic growth area.
     In June of 2011, Jeremy Green was appointed as a Next Step Pastor of Fellowship United Methodist Church. He, along with his wife, Lori, and their two children, moved to Dallas and began meeting weekly with the church. There were three initiatives that the church needed to work through: radical hospitality, environmental makeover of the middle school that the church had meeting access within, and a dynamic children’s program.
        During the early months of this project, the church decided to change the name to Edge Point Church to help distinguish it in the community. The leadership ascertained the mission field and realized the church was serving the edge of four communities: Hiram, Dallas, North Douglas, and Villa Rica.
     It became clear that Edge Point Church could be a point of community for those areas. The vision of Edge Point Church is to lead people from the edge of life to a point. They believe that the first point is having a full life in Jesus Christ, engaging in community, and helping people serve generously.
    In July Frank Bernat, Senior Pastor of Hope United Methodist Church, a 1997 church plant of the Conference, reached out to Reverend Green, and through a series of lunches pastors Bernat and Green began to discuss how Hope UMC could help. They began looking at what a partnership between the churches would look like.
      In October 2011, Bernat and the Hope Church staff attended the "Leadership Institute" where Adam Hamilton, pastor of Church of the Resurrection, the largest UMC in the nation, spoke. During the opening session Hamilton asked the question, "What church in your community are you helping succeed?" The staff at Hope saw Edge Point Church as a mission with whom they wanted to invest and help succeed. 
     Through prayer and discernment both churches decided to move forward in the partnership. Frank and Jeremy began to share this vision with their churches. On Jan. 8, both churches met in combined worship at Hope United Methodist Church where both pastors laid out how Hope and Edge Point could partner together and to celebrate all that God is going to do.
    Edge Point Church held its first preview service Sun., Jan. 22. It was an amazing day where both churches saw God move. There were 130 adults, 30 Kindergarten through 5th graders, and 10 nursery/toddlers. It is estimated that out of the 170 people who attended that 50 were Hope Church members. The day saw real and tangible evidence of God’s honoring their partnership to expand the kingdom and reach people with the Good News of a Risen Savior.
    Tommy Willingham, founding pastor of Hope and current Director of New Church Development, said, “This is a great example not just about new churches, but how the connectional system can work when we allow God to move. When we planted Hope 15 years ago, we knew we were being born pregnant. 
        Hope always had the vision of planting another congregation, and today is the realization of that anticipation.” Each life that is transformed at Edge Point will be a celebration at Hope as well. Green and Bernat, and both churches, are excited to see all that God is going to do.
     Edge Point Church will have two more preview services, one Feb. 12 and another March 11. Weekly worship in April is planned.