One of the funniest lines from the old TV show WKRP in Cincinnati is “Oh, the humanity!” If you saw the show, you may think of Thanksgiving and turkeys, but the phrase accurately describes how we should react to the current reality in Cincinnati, where two million people live in areas without a confessional Reformed church.
Zachary Wyse, an intern at Oceanside URC and a senior at Westminster Seminary California, hopes to respond to Cincinnati’s great need by becoming a full-time church planter after his graduation in June. He has already been working with a group of approximately 16-20 people in six or seven families.
A native of Ohio, Wyse has longed for some time to plant a church in that area. Although several PCA congregations exist in the north and east parts of Cincinnati, Wyse hopes to focus on the western area of Bridgetown.
“I’ve desired to plant a church into Cincinnati for a few years now, especially into an area that lacks a Reformed witness,” he explains. “I’m focused on the west side of Cincinnati, where there is a significant absence of confessionally Reformed churches.”
Wyse met three Reformed families in the area about two years ago. During the summer of 2012, he served a church planting internship at Christ Reformed Church in Washington, DC, and he continues working with the Missions Committee of Classis Eastern US. In August Wyse held a meeting with interested families and NAPARC ministers in the Cincinnati area. During the final months of 2012, he launched a website and initiated internet advertising. He spent the month of January, 2013, in Cincinnati.
“I led weekly White Horse Inn Discussion Groups in various parts of the city, all of which were publicized on the internet, and I held meetings for people who were interested in forming a core group,” says Wyse. “During those meetings, we considered Reformed worship. Some PCA churches also graciously allowed me to publicize this initiative to their congregations, in order to get the word out and find people that live in the west side.”
While Wyse completes his seminary studies in California, the Cincinnati group is holding monthly White Horse Inn Discussion Groups. He and other URC representatives will visit monthly to lead Bible studies on foundational doctrines of the Christian faith.
Classis Eastern’s Missions Committee has been funding Wyse’s initial work, while Oceanside URC provides supervision under the direction of Escondido URC. (When Oceanside’s two elders went on sabbatical last March, Oceanside reverted to church plant status under Escondido’s oversight.)
“My official oversight is through Pastor Hyde at Oceanside URC and the Escondido URC consistory,” explains Wyse. “But I’m working toward this church plant in conjunction with Classis Eastern US and, especially, its Missions Committee. The Missions Committee has been funding these initial labors and I’ve been reporting my findings to them and to Pastor Hyde.”
More information about the Cincinnati effort can be found at the group’s website or at the “Cincinnati Reformed Church Planting” group on Facebook. Zac Wyse may be contacted at cincinnatireformed at gmail.com.
The above article by Glenda Mathes appeared on pages 14 & 15 of the March 20, 2013, issue of Christian Renewal.
June 5, 2013 UPDATE: Zac reports recently receiving word that the consistory of Zeltenreich URC in Lancaster, PA, has officially elected to oversee the work in Ohio. He writes, “I’m receiving a call to be the church planter and we’ll begin in July.” ~ Glenda Mathes