>Uncertain Future for Ventura Venture

>A small URC mission work in Ventura, CA, has suffered some setbacks in recent months and its future is uncertain at this time.

The group began meeting for Bible study in December of 2009 under the oversight of Pasadena URC, which is an hour and half from Ventura. Oversight assistance from Ontario URC (two hours away) was sought and received in January of 2010 and pastors from those churches began assisting in leading the Ventura Reformed Study Group. Oversight recently reverted exclusively to the Pasadena URC, however, and members of the group are being asked to attend worship services in Pasadena while the mission venture is evaluated.

Rev. John Sawtelle, a pastor who led the study group as well as the church planter for All Saints Reformed Church in Brea, explains that a combination of factors led to recent decisions.

“One family in the Ventura Study Group moved away to seminary over the summer and that was kind of a tough blow to a small group of about five families,” he says. “Beyond that, it was difficult to find enough pastors to lead the study once per week. It is nearly 100 miles one way for the closest local pastors and when traffic is bad—and it normally is—it could easily take over two hours each way to get there and back.”

He additionally explains that Ontario URC is making changes related to its own ministries, primarily in an effort to cope with a lack of resources. One of those changes is that All Saints is being encouraged to become an organized congregation by early in 2011.

“This means that I will be scraping together whatever I can to provide for my family and keep this church plant going,” he says, “which, of course, takes me out of the picture in terms of helping out much with the study over there in Ventura.”

Most of those in the study group are already members of Pasadena URC, but the drive for worship services is prohibitive and makes recent changes disheartening.

A “Ventura Reformed Study Group” page on Facebook and a blog (http://venturarsg.wordpress.com) still existed at the time of this writing.

The above is a slightly edited version of an article that appeared on page 15 of the October 27/November 3, 2010 issue of Christian Renewal.

© Glenda Mathes, 2010

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