IRONWOOD, MI – By the time this is published, Catalyst Baptist Church will have existed in Ironwood for thirteen months. We had our first service August 3rd 2015 and celebrated one year in operation July 31st 2016. A lot happened in that year, some seen, most not, but we are here and gaining strength. We are not an island; we are part of the Upper Peninsula Association of Southern Baptists, and the westernmost SBC church in Michigan. I like to think Catalyst is planted at the starting point, not the most distant. It is just a small change in perspective!
Our first service consisted of seven people, three of which were from Tecumseh Missionary Baptist Church (TMBC) while the other four were family. We baptized two last fall and by the end of 2015 we were hosting seven to ten people every Sunday. By our anniversary in July after three more baptisms, we were running a consistent fifteen with as many as twenty, but closer to thirty if everyone showed up. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone showed up every Sunday! As it is, I wait every Sunday morning to see which 10-15 will show. I am still struggling how to rectify this; maybe you have an idea?
Our association has helped many times and we have not missed a single meeting. I look forward to association meetings and seeing my fellow shepherds. One of the reasons I elected to stay in the convention and not strike out as an independent, was the value I placed on being a part of a bigger group of churches with like beliefs. There is strength in numbers. I have not regretted it one time.
We were blessed to host the Executive Director Tim Patterson for our annual spring association meeting. I suspect we are probably the smallest church he has visited since coming to Michigan, but I am not sure about that. For most of the association it was the first time visiting Catalyst. Here is what they saw at that meeting, the faithful implementation of many blessings. Our chairs and soundboard are from Abundant Life, Menominee. Our furniture, shelves, and printer are complements of the faithfulness of TMBC and its members and our decorations and walls are complements of First Baptist, Gwinn. We are the sum of our parts, just like Paul wrote in Ephesians 4: 4-7.
If you looked closely at Catalyst, you would see a storefront church that is one year old. Inside you would see a new group of believers, part of an association, bound to a state, comprising a convention that has all agreed there is only one Lord and way to eternal life with a commission from God himself to share the Gospel. We may be at the westernmost edge of Michigan, but we are a vibrant church punching holes in the darkness while winning souls for Jesus. Thank you Baptist State Convention of Michigan, my wife and I love it here and you can take solace in knowing the welcome we received by Michigan Baptists dwarfs anything we would have received in the south.
Please join us in Spirit by praying for more church planters to hear the call and come to Michigan. I speak from experience, there is no place I would have rather gone, and the world was our oyster to choose from. Thank you Michigan, and thank you Jesus for bringing us here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ian Minielly is the pastor/church planter at Catalyst Baptist Church in Ironwood, MI.