POMEROY — Last month when the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Mulberry Heights closed its doors, it appeared the building was fated to be posted on real estate listings but this Sunday the doors will reopen and reopen as a house of worship, though under a new name - Restoration Fellowship.
No longer a Seventh-day Adventist Church, Restoration Fellowship is described as a nondenominational, contemporary Christian church which is affiliated with Fresh Fire Ministries International. The church began meeting in Pete and Brenda Barnhart’s Pomeroy living room in February, then moved to the Mulberry Community Center on Easter Sunday and has now found a home in Mulberry Heights.
As for why the Barnharts decided to take what began in their living room to the next level, Brenda admitted there seems to be a church on every corner in Meigs County but since at least five, young families who began attending Restoration Fellowship had been reached, she thought “why not?” Brenda said those five families were not attending church before finding their church home with Restoration and why not continue to reach out?
Pete said as the congregation began to grow to around 40, he started asking around to other churches to see if Restoration could share space. He was told the Seventh-day Adventist Church had closed because the membership was down to less than five. So, after contacting the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Mt. Vernon which owns the property, a lease agreement was met. Both the Barnharts said the organization in Mt. Vernon was pleased the building would continue to be open as a house of worship.
Dwindling populations of more established churches have become an issue for local congregations and recently, the Pomeroy Church of Christ began sharing space with Oasis Christian Fellowship, another nondenominational, contemporary Christian church which was making its home at Meigs Middle School. One of Oasis’ pastors, Chad Dodson, said the services at the new/old church have been going well with nearly 80 parishioners showing up for Sunday services.
The Barnharts said it is important to let young people have their say and take leadership roles in worship - this is another reason why Restoration Fellowship was founded, “to allow an avenue for God’s will to be done in a new generation,” according to Brenda. As for what Restoration stands for, it’s motto is “Restore, Rebuild and Reunite God with His people,” Brenda added.
Pete said the new church will not rely on doctrines as life or death issues and hopes to care for people five days a week, not just on Sundays and this Sunday at 11 a.m. the church, which was built in the early 1960’s, will open its doors for the first time as a contemporary Christian church. The service will feature Gordon Randolph of Alfred who specializes in the ministry of healing.
Though remodeling has been going on at the church for a few weeks now, Restoration Fellowship has incorporated some of the old with the new. For example, a drum riser has been placed over the baptismal though the floor still rises for baptisms if needed.
“It’s a new era, a new season,” Brenda said.