By Julie Campbell
Every gardener knows that a seed must die and take on a new form for a plant to flourish. In the seven years since Lakewood Church of God became Clarksburg Church, God has been growing and nurturing this Maryland congregation with new vision and new life.
“Before Lakewood Church of God merged with Fairfax Church and became Clarksburg Church, the church was at the end of its life cycle. What might have seemed like a death to some was actually the process of sowing so that something new could grow,” said Beth Wolff, who has served as the church’s senior pastor since June 2017.
Although Clarksburg Church still has a connection to Fairfax, it is not considered a “campus” of the Church of Fairfax.
“We have the same tax ID and share a liability structure,” Wolff explained. “It allows Clarksburg to exaggerate the community and translate gospel news into ministry that speaks the unique language of our community, while benefiting from the support offered by a larger church organization.”
Because Clarksburg is the fastest growing community in its county, the community has experienced serious growing pains. One of these difficulties stems from the enormous growth in housing, but the lack of community infrastructure. This is where Wolff’s vision and communion with Chapter 4 comes to life with a project called The Clarksburg Yard.
“We have a plan to turn part of our land into an outdoor venue and community cafe with specific elements to engage the 4,000 middle and high school students within walking distance of the location, as well as other residents “, explained Wolff. “As we raise funds and apply for grants to build it to its fullest, we try to live as if it is already there – sounds like the kingdom of heaven?”
While the vision for The Clarksburg Yard took years to shape, Chapter 4 Institute was instrumental in bringing it to fruition.
“Chapter 4 helped us create handles to describe the merits and purpose of the project so that congregations, community leaders, and even local/state government could see the value,” Wolff said.
“Chapter 4 was a constant voice saying, ‘Keep going! The city needs you!’”
While still waiting for the vision of Clarksburg Yard to come to life, the church is reaching out to the community in a plethora of other ways. In addition to a 24/7 emergency food pantry, the church is also partnering with the county’s Holiday Giving Project to provide Thanksgiving and Christmas food and gifts to four ZIP codes. from the community.
For school-aged children, the church works with neighborhood students to earn the student service learning hours required for school and allows the building to be rented for an after-school tutoring program, a preschool football and free community Zumba classes.
But that’s not all. “We’re partnering with DHHS to support foster and birth families with resources,” Wolff said. “And we have a daycare open during the summer so parents have an indoor space for the kids to play.”
Wolff also places a high priority on disciplining each congregation “to be missionary in its own unique context.”
As Wolff reflects on her time as a member of Chapter 4, she is overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude for what God has done.
“I am grateful to people who travel! I am grateful that someone is thinking of helping pastors and leaders listen to the cities they are in and expand their understanding of their calling to include what the city needs. I am grateful for the relationships I have cultivated. I stay in touch with them, even after the program is over, to ask questions and get encouragement and ideas. »
Julie Campbell is an editor at Warner Christian Resources (formerly Warner Press) and a freelance journalist. A former Chicagoan, she enjoys the country life with her husband, Russ, in a five-acre apple orchard in Madison County, Indiana. She is a blessed mom of three wonderful young adult children and a very spoiled red Doberman puppy.
Learn more about the Chapter 4 Institute at www.jesusisthesubject.org/chapter4.
The Plan is a unique opportunity for our Movement to act with one accord for the future of the Church. Together we can support young leaders and help bring God’s plan to life on earth and in heaven. Fund these essential ministries – Chapter 4, CARE and Leadership Focus – to train and sustain the church long into the future. Learn more and become part of The Plan at www.jesusisthesubject.org/the-plan.