Over-the-Rhine Community Church is a brand new community, growing out of the historic Nast-Trinity UMC building. We are a United Methodist Church, in partnership with Hyde Park Community UMC, with a desire to become a true church community for the neighborhood of OTR and the surrounding Cincinnati area. Given the current demographics of OTR, this means we are striving to be a multi-cultural/multi-ethnic group, seeking to dismantle the social, racial, and economic barriers that exist all around us. It’s a lofty goal, and one that will require not just a push for diversity, but a deep desire for transformative community.
Luckily, no matter how seemingly impossible a task may be, we believe all is possible through the power and grace of Jesus Christ. For more specifics on what’s important to us as a church community, check out our Vision, Values, and Beliefs above.
Growing up in Mentor, OH, a suburb of Cleveland, Ian is excited to now be making the opposite corner of Ohio his home. After moving to Durham in 2009 for seminary at Duke Divinity School where he earned his Master's of Divinity, he and his fantastic wife Kelly stayed an additional 2 1/2 years where Ian served as the director of a prison ministry called Project TURN. Partnering with Duke Divinity School TURN provided graduate level seminary courses inside the prison walls. Each class was made up by half seminary students and half incarcerated students. During his time at Project TURN, Ian gained valuable insight in how to create spaces where two very different and separated groups of people could encounter each other as peers and classmates. This reconciling and dignifying work continues to form Ian's ministry here in Cincinnati.
Ian is now very excited to serve as the pastor of Over-the-Rhine Community Church, a new church start seeking to be a transformative and multi-cultural movement. He believes in the importance of intentionality and dedication in developing a church that seeks to dismantle dividing walls across socio-economic status, race, age, gender, and others.
Ian has the privilege of being married to his wife Kelly, who is by far the strongest and most courageous person he knows. Together they live in Over-the-Rhine with their dog Liam and monster of a cat Asher. They’ve now been at OTR Community Church since March of 2015.
Sarah is our Community Ministry Liaison with HPCUMC. Missions is her heartbeat. Though ultimately called to do work in Romania and to work within the mental health field, Sarah loves serving in the city with OTRCC and the opportunities that have been laid before her in her time here. Sarah’s giftings include administration and encouragement. She has a very logistical mind and enjoys using it for the glory of God. Additionally, she loves to sing and worship and can be found helping with these ministries as well. Sarah has been a part of OTR Community Church as of September of 2013.
As a single mother of one, Kesha knows what it means to love and support children. In the past, she has worked at Cincinnati Children’s Home and Hamilton County Juvenile Detention Center. As a native to Cincinnati, Kesha is currently employed by the County. But on Sunday mornings, you’ll find her leading our children’s ministry with a huge smile on her face! Kesha has been with OTR Community Church since March, 2015.
The vision of OTRCC represents the “why” of everything we do. This is a snapshot of where we want to be. In other words, this is OTRCC’s description of God’s Kingdom in our context. Our vision is as follows:
“The transformation of OTR into a whole community by participating in God’s Kingdom of Love, wisdom, mercy & healing.”
Any movement cannot map where it is going without first identifying its values. These are what anchor us to our most fundamental dedication of receiving the ways of Jesus as our way of life together. Whether it be worship, mission, discipleship, or anything else, we will seek to faithfully represent Jesus’ presence here on this earth by living out the following.
The early church believed in the power of sharing power and privilege for the community – Acts 2:43-47. That’s why we are dedicated to equity over equality; the difference being:
Equality = all are welcome to participate
Equity = all have everything necessary to participate equally
While we are all equal in the eyes of God, unseen power dynamics, biases, and assumptions can privilege some while marginalizing others. This requires not only the process of empowering individuals, but also resisting institutional forces.
We believe in a God of justice, meaning a God whose deepest desire is to see all creation healed in relation to God and each other – Rev. 21:1-4. In this sense, justice is utterly transformative. When there is a harm, we must seek to repair that harm in a healthy way that meets the needs of the victim, offender, and community. Additionally, we must recognize systemic and on-going harm in order to address the deeper and unseen contexts. Together, this is the process of transformation.
Because there is already such a vibrant life in OTR and Downtown Cincinnati, we know we’re not alone here. God’s people have always been called to completely invest themselves into their community – Jer. 29: 4-7. In this sense we want to be a church that serves a vital role to our community in reciprocal connection with many other groups and organizations in the area.
Over-the-Rhine has a passion for the arts and we wish to celebrate this passion by allowing for creativity in all that we do. Because there is no one “right” way to do something, we celebrate variety. While we do believe in the creeds and doctrines that have formed the church, we also leave room for the Holy Spirit to consistently speak into who we are as a church. After all, the very God we worship was a creative type – Genesis 1-2.
In the early years after Jesus there was much debate around the communal theological identity of the Church. It is generally held that in the first or second century CE, the Church developed a theological statement known as the “Apostle’s Creed” to begin shaping the foundational beliefs of the Church. This historic Creed, state below, is one that we as a church build our own theological identity upon.
We believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
We believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
“OTRCC is a place where I feel at home. As a millennial I find it essential that the church community I’m a part of is a place where I can be myself, and I have found that here. OTRCC not only allows space for people to come as they are, but it also challenges us to see the big picture – where truth and justice intersect with the Christian life. I’m excited to see how God’s Holy Spirit moves in this community, and I know transformation is bound to happen! ” Lydia
“Both the community and the teaching at OTRCC remind me that the kingdom of God transcends any boundaries or boxes that we would tend to place it in. God has used OTRCC in my own faith story, and also to remind me that 'the harvest is plenty' for justice and truth to be found both in the neighborhood of Over-the-Rhine and in the city of Cincinnati at-large. I am excited to be a part of this journey!” Russell
“I have grown and changed along OTRCC. God has used this special place to challenge my faith, provide a rock solid life support system of people, and pour into me the encouragement and strength to step out onto the raging waters. OTRCC invites us and provides a space for us to grow as individuals that we might unify into a team and accomplish all that God would call us to.” Sarah
“I love this church. I’ll never leave this church.” Bobby