On the Rev. Greg Gardner’s first day at Hallsville United Methodist Church in 2014 he found a small gathering and not many children.
Gardner, lead pastor of Hallsville, believed anything was possible. Located in the picturesque hills of Kingston, Ohio in the Shawnee Valley District, the church had a food pantry ministry and held in high regard service to local veterans.
Yet, in looking to grow the church, Gardner knew he needed to start with prayer. The former teacher and coach also created a motto: “Focus, focus, focus.”
The leadership team and staff began a prayer journey with the pastor to hear where God was calling them. “For the first few months,” Gardner said, “we struggled with [attracting] children and youth, but we kept praying and kept the course.” Gradually, worship attendance grew to 90 to 120 people, half of them children. Worshippers came from surrounding counties 20 to 30 minutes away, including Chillicothe and Adelphi. Soon the youth/children’s ministries, as well as the food pantry, outgrew their space.
Prayer continues to be the focus for Hallsville. Gardner implemented a stewardship campaign to build a “Celebration Center” for the growing ministries. Gardner had a process, and each step began with staff and leaders praying around the interior and exterior of the church.
“The past couple of years have been a blessed time following the pandemic,” Gardner said. The church debt was paid off, and a private donor gave $50,000 as seed money to begin the “Celebration Center” project. In addition, another donor committed to covering the first year’s mortgage.
The “Celebration Center” opened in October 2022. It can hold 225 for community meals or weddings and includes a nursery, a conference room and a sound room. Hallsville’s expanded food pantry is also in the center.
As Hallsville celebrates what God has done, the congregation remains focused on ministry. “It all starts with prayer,” Gardner said. “God’s timing is still the best timing for our lives. Being obedient to God’s leading through the noise is key.”
Click here to learn more about Hallsville UMC and its ministries.
Written by Amy Graham, Communications Specialist