SouthWest Ohio RPC is one of the newest church plants in the Great Lakes-Gulf Presbytery of the RPCNA. Our Presbytery covers Ohio and Indiana, and the states directly north and south of that. We’re the middle of America, but east of the Mississippi. God’s grace created us, and by God’s grace we stand. We’re very much aware of our utter dependency on God’s sovereign will and kindness.
We began with just a few people who had an appetite for more biblical worship. My wife Susan and I were returning from ministering in Scotland, and weren’t sure where we would be. As it became known that we were returning, a small group in southwest Ohio (the larger Cincinnati Area) put feelers out to see if we might consider a church-plant. In the end we contacted GL-G Presbytery to ask for their help. Rev. Phil Pockras of Belle Center, Ohio, and his church, was a great encouragement.
In October 2010, though numbering only ten people, we began weekly services. We hungered for the pure biblical worship found in the R.P. Church. We all knew each other from various venues, and liked and respected each other. We wanted to worship God in his Glory – via simple worship. We did not grow for over two years. Week after week we met with the same small band. Most groups I’ve been associated with would’ve gotten nervous about that but we didn’t. We did lots of witnessing and tried any number of programs. But our emphasis focused on worshipping and enjoying the Lord. Energetic and biblical preaching. Reformed theology and lots of prayer.
Around 2013 we began to slowly add members. My son’s family had a baby boy. He was church member #11! Then a family moved here to be close to the school for the deaf in north Cincinnati. We were up to 15! Then an older R.P. couple retired to north Dayton, a minister and his wife — who had ministered out in California and the Mid-West (the Rev. Steven and Jeannie Work). #’s 16 and 17!
One of our churches in Columbus, Indiana, adopted us and began to encourage us. My son Christopher, an I.T. specialist, advertised a position in his tech company in R.P circles and a young man came over from Indiana to take the position. Through our witnessing on the streets, we picked up two men and began to work with them. One was homeless and we got him into an inexpensive rental. The other had some disabilities but also some gifts and started helping me with the street witnessing, and preaching at intersections.Our investments in people began to pay off!
We were organised as a congregation at the end of 2016 with a session of four men and a (previously ordained) deacon. Presbytery examined the men and rejoiced at the maturity they found. Almost as soon as they were ordained, two of the men began to help presbytery with committee assignments.
A young psychology student and his wife had started attending, and they were great at inviting other students. By 2017, we had grown by 50% — up to a total of 31! A large family of seven moved here from out-west, and a young college couple began attending who were dating. The woman, from an Episcopalian background came to see that she wasn’t a Christian. But they wanted to get married. We started some classes with them, and she began to read a lot on her own. One day, she suddenly realized how crucial the Lord was for “meaning!” It was either Christ or chaos – and blessedly she chose Christ! John and Audrey got married this past Spring – and we rejoiced that God had brought someone to new life in Christ through our small congregation. Even before their marriage they saw the need to help and volunteered to come early every Lord’s Day to set-up,.
The family of seven were involved with applying Reformed Theology to politics. They moved here with the idea of organizing a lobbying effort in our state capital (Columbus, Ohio) focusing on Pro-Life and the 2ndAmendment (the God-given right of “self-defense”). In only two years Chris and Lydia Dorr have become the most significant lobbying group in the capital. This Spring we spear-headed an open-air gathering at the capital of over 1,500 people — that challenged Governor Kasich not to press forward with his more liberal program. Out in Iowa, Chris and his older brother Aaron got over 50 new legislators elected – who supported more biblical positions – and even defeated a handful of liberal judges!
Our group now consists of nearly forty worshippers regularly on a Sunday morning. Some have passed through, but more have stayed. Our focus has not strayed from the Gospel and the Confession of Faith! We just try to show how important all of this is for the Christian life! We stress loving one another and allowing each other to grow at our own pace. We’re a very young group with lots of children. It’s been very tough growing in our secular day but we’re avowedly Christian and one way or another God has helped us to grow.
Our focus has remained on “worship,” and the group is still happy together. I continue to marvel that God kept us happy for over two years without any growth – as we matured in him and then slowly received his blessing. We give thanks to God for his steady support. May his name be praised!
Rev. R E “Dick” Knodel, Jr.