By MaryAnn Kromer, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sept. 12, a new Lutheran Church, Family of Faith, opened in Tiffin Mall. The Rev. Mark Brodbeck was installed as pastor in a ceremony Sunday, with 162 people in attendance.
Brodbeck said the congregation is part of a denomination known as Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ, or LCMC.
That denomination originated in 2001 in an effort to redirect Lutherans toward the authority of Scripture and away from the demands of modern culture.
"It seems to me that culture is now dictating what the church, or churches, are preaching, rather than God and his word," Brodbeck said. "God's word never has, or will, change. Humans' words always change. And yet, the church seems to want to follow humans' words, and thoughts, instead of God's word. As the author of Hebrews states, 'Jesus Christ (the Word of God) is the same yesterday and today and forever.' (Hebrews 13:8)"
Four couples from First Lutheran Church in Tiffin, who felt "orphaned" from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, banded together as a vision team to initiate the formation of Family of Faith.
The team members include Mr. and Mrs. Eric Kissell, Mr. and Mrs. Eric Smith, Mr. and Mrs. Carl Redman and Mr. and Mrs. Ken Egbert Jr.
Although Egbert was a lifelong member of First Lutheran, he and others in the congregation were looking for something more.
"We wanted to start a church in the Lutheran faith ... because the word from the Bible was being watered down," Egbert said. "We wanted to be affiliated with LCMC because we felt the ideas we had were more in tune with that organization."
Egbert said the team was familiar with the Rev. Roger Miller, a pastor at a LCMC church in Maumee. It sought assistance in getting the Tiffin site established as a member of LCMC.
Egbert also did the legal work to register Family of Faith as a religious non-profit.
Because Brodbeck had left First Lutheran and had not been placed at another church, the vision team approached him to lead Family of Faith.
He was open to the idea and received permission to take the post.
The next step was to find worship space. The team learned Restoration Ministries had moved out of its quarters in Tiffin Mall.
The location had abundant parking, was easy for out-of-town residents to find and was handicapped-accessible.
The group met with mall management and worked out a lease agreement.
"We sensed there was a regional need," Kissell said. "The mall actually gave us a pretty decent rent. ... We probably will want to break ground or find a bigger space eventually."
Since its opening, Family of Faith has averaged about 120 worshipers each week. In addition to Tiffin-area residents, Brodbeck said, people have been coming from Findlay, Fostoria and Upper Sandusky.
The Sunday worship service is at 10:15 a.m., but people are encouraged to come at 10 a.m. for coffee and fellowship. Kissell said Sunday school is to begin soon.
"What makes us different than other congregations is that we are an energetic, spirit-filled, Bible-based, family-oriented, Lutheran congregation that is eager to do what Jesus calls us to do in the Great Commission: 'Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you,' (Matthew 28:19-20a)" Brodbeck said.
Egbert added the services offer some differences from traditional Lutheran worship, including weekly communion, interesting presentations and an upbeat atmosphere. For the installation, Cassie Smith and Joshua Brodbeck, son of the pastor, provided music. Egbert said the congregation is seeking a regular accompanist who could play every week.
"LCMC is congregation-based in terms of establishing programs and worship, within the guidelines of Lutheran teachings," he explained.
"The Bible is the best guide through any time period, through any culture," Kissell said. "We want to live out the word and practice what we preach. ... We believe it's important to serve one another as brothers and sisters."
In the area of outreach and discipleship, Family of Faith has set up a website at www.familyoffaithchurch.org. Egbert said the church is moving forward to broadcast services on Internet radio and archive Brodbeck's sermons online.
The church is participating in Mall-oween today, and it has a rally day planned for 9-10 a.m. Nov. 7 at the church, next to Dollar General in Tiffin Mall. Brodbeck also is offering a "Map It" class 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Nov. 13.