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  • Baptist Beacon

State Mission Offering: a revitalization story

ANN ARBOR – It was two weeks before the world closed down for the Covid pandemic, and Rhiza Church launched its very first church service in Ann Arbor. It was a joyous and successful launch, but 14 days later it felt like it was over before it began.



Rhiza Church had been meeting in a public school so immediately they were without a home. Pastor Tito Diaz, his wife Mollie and the remaining members of the church would spend the next 3 years trying to find a place they could call home. During that time, the church met in six different locations.


Meanwhile, in another part of Ann Arbor a much more established church was facing its own challenge. Graceway Church had been around for decades, but even before the pandemic, they were in decline. By 2022, there would be fewer than 20 people on a Sunday. They had all the space they needed, and no one to fill it.


One of the few remaining leaders at Graceway, Steve Worrell, said he would have to give himself a pep talk each week because the church “was just so empty.”


Steve and the other leaders were facing a decision of whether to close the doors of the church forever. But before they took that step, they decided to reach out to the Baptist State Convention of Michigan (BSCM) to see if the BSCM staff had any suggestions. Steve said, “It was worth a shot.”


BSCM staff knew about Rhiza’s struggles for a permanent place to meet, and they introduced the Diaz’s to Graceway’s leadership. In just a few months, the two churches had merged into one. Steve Worrell said, “It just seemed like a perfect fit.”


A year later, the churches came together as one, and after three years Rhiza Church now has a permanent place to meet. Mollie Diaz recalls the first Sunday together saying, “It was home, it was actually home.”


The Frances Brown State Mission Offering is an annual offering taken by Michigan Baptist churches to fund special mission projects for starting and strengthening churches within the state of Michigan.


This year’s State Mission Offering goal is $80,000, and will be used to revitalize churches like Graceway who are in decline. BSCM will provide support and training to leaders to help churches begin to reverse declines, or to find other paths to continue their witness.


 

EDITOR'S NOTE: You can find free resources to promote the State Mission Offering at bscm.org/smo. Resources include videos, poster, flyer, and prayer guide.



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