Seek the welfare of the city where I have
sent you into exile,
and pray to the LORD on its behalf;
for in its welfare you
will have welfare.
Jeremiah 29:7 (NASB)
Our Metropolitan Initiative is about reaching people for Christ in and around our major cities. The U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has defined and classified cities for Federal use. A Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is "a geographic entity that has at least one urbanized area with a population of 50,000 or more, plus adjacent territory with a high degree of social and economic integration with the core as measured by commuting ties" (Forbes.com). These metropolitan areas are complex and large. They include various layers of suburbs, multiple ethnic and a wide diversity of economic/social groups.
Ohio has 16 such urban centers, some of which cross state lines with PA, WV, KY and IN. Most people in Ohio live in one of these areas; there are 10 million people living within an Ohio MSA and that is about 83% of the total population.
Though at one time Brethren people were encouraged to avoid large cities, most Ohio Grace Brethren Churches can be found within the boundaries of an MSA––46 of our 57 churches in Ohio (80%). Six of the 16 MSAs do not have any Grace Brethren Churches.
Most of the churches located in these MSAs are suburban, small town, or even rural in nature. For the most part there are very few inner city, urban ministries or ethnic churches (I counted seven). We have only two African/American pastors (Dayton and Toledo).
Our Metropolitan Initiative Team is not yet formed, but Dr. Tony Webb is reportedly targeting March 3rd for a meeting in the Columbus area to begin identifying those who will serve this initiative. Contact Dr. Webb if you have an interest for this work.
Cities in which we presently have urban ministries:
1. Toledo – Pastor Ray Miller
2. Dayton – Pastor Tyrone Curtis
3. Columbus – Pastors Larry Totzke and Eric Miller
4. Cleveland – Pastor Rich Bartley
5. Akron – Pastor Joe Caruso
U.S. Census Bureau DEFINES Micropolitan/Metropolitan Areas.
Download a pdf MAP of Ohio showing Micropolitan Areas.
Areas (areas marked in BLUE have Grace Brethren Churches)
A. Akron, OH -- Portage County; Summit County.
B. Canton-Massillon, OH -- Carroll County; Stark County.
C. Cincinnati-Middletown, OH-KY-IN -- Brown County, OH; Butler County, OH; Clermont County, OH; Hamilton County, OH; Warren County, OH; Dearborn County, IN; Franklin County, IN; Ohio County, IN; Boone County, KY; Bracken County, KY; Campbell County, KY; Gallatin County, KY; Grant County, KY; Kenton County, KY; Pendleton County, KY.
D. Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor, OH -- Cuyahoga County; Geauga County; Lake County; Lorain County; Medina County.
E. Columbus, OH -- DelawareCounty; Fairfield County; Franklin County; Licking County; Madison County; Morrow County; Pickaway County; Union County.
F. Dayton, OH -- Greene County; Miami County; Montgomery County; Preble County.
G. Huntington-Ashland, WV-KY-OH -- Cabell County,WV; Wayne County, WV; Boyd County, KY; Greenup County, KY; Lawrence County, OH.
H. Lima, OH -- Allen County.
I. Mansfield, OH -- Richland County.
J. Parkersburg-Marietta, WV-OH -- Pleasants County and Wirt County, WV; Wood County, WV; Washington County, OH.
K. Sandusky, OH -- Erie County.
L. Springfield, OH - Clark County.
M. Toledo, OH -- Fulton County; Lucas County; Ottawa County; Wood County.
N. Weirton-Steubenville, WV-OH -- Jefferson County, OH; Brooke County, WV; Hancock County, WV.
O. Wheeling, WV-OH -- Marshall County, WV; Ohio County, WV; Belmont County, OH.
P. Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH -PA -- Mahoning County, OH; Trumbull County, OH; Mercer County, PA.