GREENVILLE — The continual growth of the First Heavy Metal Church of Christ (FHMCC) in the past 2 1/2 years has forced it to move to a new location, just down the street.
In fact, the first sermon was held there this past Sunday, with a guest preacher doing the honors.
Pastors of the church are Mike Burd and Mike Fisher, who alternate each week on giving the week’s sermon.
“We outgrew that space [at 402 S. Broadway] the first year,” Burd said. “We wanted to stay on Broadway to have a Broadway presence. We wanted to be downtown.”
They are now gathering at the former Pamela’s Intimate Apparel shop at 534 S. Broadway.
“It’s three times the space,” he said. “We definitely needed the extra space. And, we needed something we could readily move into.”
At the first location, which was formerly California Water Beds, there were 110 show up for the first service.
“The capacity of the building was 120,” Burd said. “We went to 120 in a couple of months. We called it the fish bowl effect….only so many fit in. The first 2 1/2 years, we were averaging three or four visitors every single week and there was not enough room to house anymore.”
It was a sure thing they couldn’t fit the children into the church, so they rented a space at the United Church of Christ close by the first month for children’s Sunday school.
Burd was quick to point out that there is still not enough room for the children so they are renting space at the First Congregational Christian Church which is closer to the new church.
“The mayor [Mike Bowers] was helpful, and he was so good to us when we moved to town,” Burd said. “He originally offered classes at his church, First Congregational, 2 1/1 years ago but it was further away. Now, it’s literally behind us. We run 50 children per Sunday.”
Burd and Fisher didn’t know each other until they met when they served on a team at the Sidney Shelby County Walk for Emmaus three years ago.
“That’s where we met Pastor Brian Smith, who has a church in Dayton,” said Burd. “It’s an old elementary school in the Northridge School System. The church started off in a biker bar. The owner of Jackass Flats, the most famous biker bar in Dayton, offered Brian a place for his Sunday services. The church had been meeting in a VFW, but had to move, so they took him up on the offer.”
He said there is a joke about that.
“Mike [Fisher] is a carpenter and I am a salesman,” Burd said. “We say a carpenter and a salesman walked into a bar and opened a church.”
The new joke, they said, is “A fish and a bird walk into a lingerie store and say, ‘Let’s have a church there’.”
Burd noted that FHMCC Church membership is maybe 20 to 30 percent bikers.
“I have a motorcycle and ride a lot and look like a biker, but I don’t consider myself one,” said Fisher, the other pastor.
Burd said it was Smith who selected Greenville for the church.
“Several people had contacted Brian and asked him to start a new church in Darke County,” Burd recalled. “When Sportzters was on Broadway, we met the owner and he told us about the empty building next door. We like to reach out to bikers and other people.”
So, it was a “go.” Pastor Brian preached on launch day at the first location in Greenville and Burd preached the next week. The reason they named it Heavy Metal because of Ephesians 6:10-20 from the Bible.
“Apostle Paul encourages us to put on the whole armor of God,” Burd said. “It [the name] is unique and different and gets people’s attention. It’s a drawing card. Heavy Metal has a certain stigma with it, but that’s okay. While Heavy Metal is a turnoff to traditional folks, it’s inviting to others.”
No, the music is not all heavy metal.
“We have different worship teams from all genres of music,” Burd said. “We have bluegrass, blues, contemporary Christian, country… We just started a house band which plays once every four to six weeks.”
The type of people who come to FHMCC, he said, are the type of people who do not go to a traditional church.
“This attracts those people where they would feel welcome,” he said. “We have people coming here from all walks of life…judges, bikers, factory workers, homemakers, police officers. And, we attract them from Lima, Dayton, Celina, St. Mary’s and even from Indiana.”
According to him, the pastors preach from the Bible.
“Last Sunday at the new building was fabulous,” Burd said. “We borrowed 60 more chairs from First Congregational Christian and filled them up. Altogether, we had 185 at church.”
He also added, “One neat thing we did is take down the big old sign at the first location because it is too large to match current city code. We couldn’t hang it up and the new location but we did put it up inside [the building]. Before, we had tinted the windows because of the sunlight at noon. At Pamela’s, we didn’t do that, because she has awnings. We moved two blocks away. It’s amazing it’s a whole different world down there.”
FHMCC, which opened in Greenville on Oct. 27,2013, offers programs for its adult members.
There is a midweek men’s Bible study group which is known as Iron Men, who meet Tuesdays, and a ladies group called Daughters of Destiny, who meet on Thursdays.
“We probably have more men members,” Burd said. “At Bible study, we probably have 18 to 20 men every week where there are 10 to 12 women. We use a lot of media. We show movie clips, have power point demonstrations and other visual aids.”
A month ago, he said, they started buying cases of Bibles to make available to those who come to their church without any.
During the Sunday service, there is worship with singing, announcements and the sermon. It’s lasts about 1 1/2 hours to the max. It starts at noon.”
Burd has been in the ministry for 30 years. For 25 years, he was a worship leader in many denominations: Methodist, Baptist, non-denominational churches and Churches of Christ.
“The Lord kept telling me to get into the pastoral side of things,” said Burd, who works full-time for a Dayton company selling industrial supplies. “Of course, I resisted because I was comfortable leading worship.
Burd and his wife, the former Jill Fleck who grew up in Chickasaw, met in church and have been married 21 years. They have five children, ranging in age from 6 to 19.
Fisher, who lives in Pitsburg, is a union carpenter in Dayton, working for Local 136 at Combs Interiors. He and wife Misty were high school sweethearts in Rockford, and are the parents of five daughters, ages 13 to 24.
“I started the ministry in Greenville,” Fisher said. “It’s challenging, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It’s pretty rewarding. The people are amazing and that makes it worth it. I’m not a public speaker and it’s out of my comfort zone. I’m probably more of a shepherd than a preacher. But, Mike and I make a good team because we’re both bringing something different. It’s a good mix.”
Both are involved with the church. Burd is a member of the Greater Greenville Ministerial Association.
“We help at Grace Resurrection Community Church by serving [meals] and help out at other community events. We clean up, participate in First Friday events and local 5Ks by directing traffic and we go to the fair.
“FMHCC is a come as-you-are church,” Burd said. “Once there, you get to meet Jesus and don’t leave the same. We want to be a hope and light to this community.”
It’s apparently working. They have baptized more than 125 people in 2 1/2 years.
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