GREENVILLE — The EUM Church in Greenville is one of the most highly attended churches in the county, with 1,200-plus members.
Featured in this, the first of a monthly series on local churches, EUM Church operates out of two facilities; its locations are the new worship center at 1451 Sater St. and the downtown campus at 111 Devor.
Lead pastor today is Dr. Jeff Harper, while Matt Haupt is executive pastor overseeing all ministry staff; Don Smith, care pastor, who has replaced Sylvia McKibben who recently retired; and Jim Jennings, discipleship pastor.
Harper, Haupt and Kirstin Fee, executive director, comprise the executive team which oversees the wide array of ministries the church provides. She said she and Haupt lead all of the staff and report to the pastor.
“The biggest ministry is the children’s,” Fee said. “There are over 200 children here each weekend. One of our primary focus is on young families.”
There are five services at the two sites; a traditional service at the downtown campus and four contemporary ones at the worship center.
Each Sunday, the same program is held at all services with Harper presenting each one of them.
“In the traditional service, there is stained glass, a choir, and the flavor of the service is different,” she said. “There is a liturgist who reads, hymns and a different style of music. In each of the four contemporary services, the sermon is identical…the band and music are the same.”
The downtown campus houses the not only the traditional service but offices and classes. The preschool that had been established there closed last July because it was experiencing lower numbers.
“We decided to close it and we may start another one in a couple of years at the worship center,” Fee said.
EUM Church continues to grow.
“Our attendance has grown 5 percent from last year,” she said. “We had 110 visitors last week I think because of Christmas. We did something different.”
She was talking about four area pizza delivery people who profited from making a run to the church one weekend.
“That spawned a desire for us to be generous,” Fee said. “Everything we do is to love God and love others as ourselves. That’s our mission statement. We want to pratice generosity and hospitality.
She said the church has started a “pocket change” ministry with church people bringing in pocket change or $1 each at bot locations on Sundays.
“We think of new ways to be generous in our community and together do something,” Fee reported. “We started that in November. Our first outreach was Christmas Eve. We had almost 1,400 people at the services. We bought over 5,000 doughnuts from Eikenberry’s. When the congregation came out of the service, they picked up a bag of doughnuts and went out in the community and gave them to the people who had to work on Christmas Day and couldn’t get away from work. We went to all kinds of businesses, to the rescue squad, the fire department and the hospital. Then, we asked them to put pictures on our Facebook. It’s no fun to work on Christmas and we wanted to make those people’s day a little better. Visitors even participated. I think that has spiked increase in visitors to the church. We try to show love in a tangible way and will continue to do monthly things with pocket change. We may fill vehicles up with free gas or may go to the laundromat and help someone with their laundry or we may pay for groceries.”
According to Fee, there is a staff of 20 people at EUM.
“There are a lot of ideas we are sharing, she said. “We have a great time serving together. We’re like a family. It’s good when we enjoy each other’s company. These people give countless time in hours.”
She went on, “We feed our staff and servants every Sunday and some of them are here from 6:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.” she said. “We feed the lights and sound people in, cafe workers, ushers and greeters. Each service has its own ushers, greeters and communion servers. It takes a lot of people.”
Fee attributes the increase in attendance when Bill Lyle reigned as pastor.
“Jeff is starting his fifth year here, coming from Urbana United Methodist Church,” she said of the current pastor. “It was an adjustment for him. There 815 in worship when Bill left. Now, there are over 1,000 in just adults. Bill built the train at the station and Jeff came along. We just stuck a hook out and grabbed him and he hung on and kept us moving.”
She had lots of good things to say about the current pastor.
“He is a great leader,” she said. “He empowers the staff. We work well as a team. Jeff has a doctorate in ministry. He brought a lot of depth, wisdom and leadership to our staff. He is in his 25th year in the ministry. His wife, Colleen, is very involved and is a lot of fun. They have three sons, Caleb and Samuel, college students, and Daniel, a junior.”
Fee reported there is going to be an addition to the worship center.
“The sanctuary only holds 475 people,” she said. “The parking lot gets full and some people are now parking at Dickman Supply next door. We rent golf carts on holidays to bring people from their cars to the church.”
She said first-time visitors are always given visitor bags and said that if a person misses church for a couple of weeks in a row, arrangements are made for them to get the pastor’s message.
“We want people to feel loved and cared for,” she said. “We are striving to do that. We encourage people to visit. All of the sermons are video recorded and are on our website at eumchurch.org. Our median age is probably 45; it’s definitely a younger congregation. We are a great representative of Darke County’s demographics.”