We're the new church in a tiny village that stands at the confluence of the Scioto and Little Scioto Rivers. It's the kind of village where people just stop in and say "hey" to their neighbors... But as always - especially in small towns - new things cause eyebrows to raise.
When the local Baptist church closed its doors after nearly 200 years of ministry in the village, the handful of remaining congregants generously opted to give their vacant church building to a small church-planting group who called me to be their organizing pastor. After saying "no" at least twice I finally accepted the call and my family of 7 descended upon the village (bringing its population up to 381). Needless to say, our presence here along with our congregation has led to a question or two by curious neighbors and other passersby.
"What is an All Souls Church anyhow?"
A pastor from the neighboring village saw our name on the church-sign and assumed we must be Anglicans, a man who learned of our existence asked me if we were “something like them Catholics,” and another person even wondered aloud if we were a predominately black church, saying that our name put him in the mind of "soul music". While our doors are certainly open to Baptists, Anglicans, soul singers, and people of ANY color and/or cultural background we at All Souls are not quite as any of the aforementioned people perceived us.
"So what are you then?"
Let’s begin with our name…
“What’s in a name?” asked Juliet in Shakespeare’s play – and the answer is, quite a lot actually.
We are called All Souls Church for the following reasons:
1) Our name originally comes from the ancient Christian celebration of All Souls Day - we chose this name not only for its connection with historic Christianity but because it also accurately reflects our understanding of the Gospel. Who is the message of God’s grace in Christ for? To whom does the gospel apply? Simply put, it applies to all souls. Though many will reject it, it is our belief that we must faithfully proclaim it to one and all…. here's why:
2) We are all souls with a body. Often times people get this backwards and place the emphasis on being bodies with a soul. While both are technically true (and while we certainly affirm the physical resurrection of the body at the return of Christ as does the rest of Christianity) our name places special emphasis on the fact that the soul of a man, woman, boy, or girl will live on forever in one of two places – heaven or hell. Therefore, the care of our souls is of the utmost importance. How is this done? We believe that the Christian soul is primarily cared for and nourished through the ordinary means of grace – means that take place within the corporate gathering of the Church… things like the preached word, the proper administration of the sacraments, corporate prayer, fellowship, etc... And so we call ourselves All Souls Church.
Another question we frequently get asked is:
“Where did you come from & what denomination are you?
Let’s answer these in turn.
1) All Souls is a church-plant launched in March 2014 in the village of Green Camp, Ohio in the county of Marion about 45 miles north of Columbus. Our congregation is comprised of a broad range of denominational backgrounds.
2) All Souls is not part of any particular denomination at this time as we are still very much in “church-plant-mode.” That is to say, we are seeking to identify our unique “culture,” hammer out our doctrinal identity, establish a functional body of church-officers, etc., etc. – once this process is complete (another 12 months or so) All Souls will begin an in-depth exploration of denominational options... (I have my favorite choices but I don't want to impose them upon the congregation at this point).
Beyond this I would list these six-points that help further define us:
For more on the six points of our identity please see the home page under “Our Distinctives.”
Oh, yeah! And if you're in the area why not drop in and say "hey."