And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place. - Acts 17:26
It was eight years ago this Sunday that a group of just over 60 adults signed a covenant calling for the establishment of Burning Hearts Community Church. Since that time, a number of those signers have either moved away, died, or joined another church. From the very beginning it was in effect promised that Burning Hearts would not be a church for everyone. But if one were looking for a smaller church of people of all ages, offering solid Biblical teaching, good body life and a variety of musical expressions, then Burning Hearts would be just the place. And so the church began.
We met the first Sunday at the Burle Industries building on route 23. Ruth Winne was unable to attend as her father had died that very morning. The next Sunday we met at the Manheim Township Public Library's new building. It was very attractive but offered no rooms for classes. After several months there we moved to the Nitrauer Elementary School, close to Westminster Presbyterian Church. That building boasted good parking, a nice entry area and an auditorium with sloped floor and theater seating. It was a great facility but, on occasion, was not available for regular use. And unless our attendance could somehow spike to around 300, it often seemed very empty. A few months later we had our first funeral. Ironically it was for our youngest church member (Zach Flick, killed in a motorcycle accident).
After a year or two a building committee was formed and they explored a number of options. For a short time it looked like we might be heading to Manheim (to a building with great potential that unfortunately sat in a flood plain), then our attention turned to a building near route 283, and then to a farmette on the Fruitville Pike. Finally the facility we are in was discovered. It was, at that time, just a shell with only a couple of walls. It had originally been a hardware store, but then had become a community center building. Just before we moved in it had been used for BINGO. The work involved to make the facility usable was extensive (walls, bathrooms, painting, carpeting, doors, etc). But the end result was pleasing. It was simple, clean, attractive and new.
We are now over 3.5 years into our 5-year lease. By next year this time we will need to make a decision about whether we stay here (entering into another 5-year lease) or move to yet another site. Be in prayer, particularly for the Elders and Trustees as they explore the idea of obtaining greater use of the entire building that we are in (see Trustee's report). So far the building has served us well and the location seems ideal but we will need more space in the future.
Our hope has always been to glorify God, lift up Jesus (and the cross, wherein he bore in his body our sins), and encourage everyone to go deeper with God through a study of His word. The core of Burning Hearts now seems well established: good documents, a good statement of faith, mature leadership, and a common commitment to the same end. We are very consciously looking for younger leadership to "take over" and this will culminate in late 2022/early 2023 when Pastor Doug steps aside to allow a much younger pastor to become the new senior pastor. The plan is to have Pastor Doug retained as an associate pastor, but his role will be very subordinate to the new pastor. So, more change is sure to come! Thank you for being part of Burning Hearts Community Church. What a great fellowship!