Six years ago Bishop Palmer called upon the West Ohio Conference to invest significant resources in the best tools, leaders and locations that would bring more people and more communities into the light and life of Jesus Christ. As he explained at Annual Conference in 2015, he did this because of a decline in our membership rolls yet an incalculable need for the healing power of Jesus in our neighborhoods and towns. The Light the Way Campaign was the result of that call, and God has done incredible things through the campaign over the last several years.
Campaign Co-Chairs Tom Hofmann (Laity, Stonybrook UMC) and Rev. Doug Johns of Hyde Park UMC have led the fundraising effort over the last several years. The original goals were to raise $5 million and to establish a minimum of twelve new churches and/or multi-site ministries over a five-year period. Their partner in this work was Brad Aycock, Director of Fresh Starts and New Beginnings for the Conference, as well as the staff of the Council on Development, now the United Methodist Foundation of West Ohio.
“When I volunteered to work on the Light the Way campaign, my passion was the 'Greenhouse' and what it could do for new churches and programs like 'Fresh Expressions','' said co-chair Tom Hofmann. “I am passionate about church being available to all. I cannot think of anything more important than giving all people the chance to find Christ in a relationship provided through the support of Light the Way.”
Co-Chair Doug Johns concurs. “I agreed to Co-Chair the Light the Way Campaign with Tom Hofmann because I deeply believe in the dual emphasis of the campaign: New Faith Communities and Church Revitalization through initiatives like Fresh Expressions. Under the leadership of Brad Aycock, West Ohio Conference has established a dynamic movement that is Holy Spirit inspired, empowered and led. It is a joy to be a part of God’s moving in West Ohio.”
Over the last five years the Light the Way Campaign has:
- Funded over 12 new faith communities
- Funded over 40 new Fresh Expressions in existing congregations
- Raised over $5 million
- Reached 2300 new worshipers
- Baptized over 250 new believers
The Light the Way Campaign is now transitioning from a campaign to a dynamic movement within the West Ohio Conference. To fund that transition, the expanded fundraising goal includes an additional $1 million for a total campaign goal of $7 million, as well as six additional new congregations or Fresh Expressions by the end of 2022.