reimagining our place by reimagining the church.
Wherever we we go, it is always rooted in where we have come from.
The Farmhouse is a new idea, but it is not new. Who we are now is simply the continuation of very large strand that has come before us.
Here in this community, we believe we move forward by looking backward; by being guided by where we have already gone.
Act one - 1853-1867
While culturally & philosophically, The Farmhouse is rooted in a much broader tradition that traces its origins for thousands of years, this community began here in 1853.
A group of nine people began what was called a Methodist "Class Meeting" (which is what our micro-communities are based on) by meeting in a home to be the church in this place. Despite the difficult of travel and life in the rural Midwest during the 19th century, this group of people collectively grew to become an official Methodist Episcopal Church in 1867.
The Church in Evergreen was officially formed.
act two - the first building(s)
Outgrowing their homes, the established community built a small gathering space in the village - one of the earliest in the Fulton County area of Northwest Ohio.
From there began a journey of overcoming difficulty.
The original church building burnt in 1894. They rebuilt. The village endured another fire in the early 1900's where everyone, including the Metamora Methodist Episcopal Church, was forced to rebuild. When it comes to the first decade of our community's life, it wasn't exactly ideal.
But then came an economic boom for the area. Once the village recovered and rebuilt, a revitalization happened and it brought forth a major growth to the outskirt, rural region in the country surrounding Toledo, Ohio. As the area grew, so did the church.
It only took 91 years for the Church of Evergreen to begin thriving.
act three - the golden age
In 1960 a new sanctuary was built and Metamora UMC was fully functioning in the Northwest Ohio district of the Methodist Church which is now the Maumee Watershed District of the West Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church. During these years, the community continued moving forward through the oversight of several pastors.
However, as industry went down and transportation capabilities went up, the life of the community was changed. The area's growth slowed, the vibrancy lessened, and, as a result, the life of the church was affected as the upward growth turned over to a slow decline.
It was in the midst of this recession that the life of the church was propelled into turmoil. Issues with the church building that had become central to the community led to black mold and the eventual loss of the building in 2005. Politics, conflict, and uncertainty followed and what a slow decline became a struggle to survive.
It was then that the community began collaborating with the newly built elementary school in the Evergreen School District and, without very many options, this became the new sanctuary of Metamora United Methodist Church.
Soon, a hopeful last resort for a meeting space became "home" and it soon began taking on familiar dynamics of the buildings that had once been a part of the community's history.
This time, instead of rebuilding, the community adapted - finding a home, not in a building, but in a community. Through mourning, through reconciliation, through innovation and pushing boundaries, a school auditorium became a gathering space. It wasn't a home, it wasn't one of the beautiful sanctuaries that brought the community to where they were, but it was still part of the same story where the community overcome difficulty to do what it takes to be the church.
act four - reimagining identity
The transition wasn't smooth with the community dwindling to a few dozen people who continued forward. Though a decline, these folks kept the community alive under the direction of several pastors including Terry Powell. However, after the loss of their prized building, they then suffered the unexpected death of their leader, exposing the possibility of this story being over.
With a declaration to close and unable to imagine any possible future, the community experienced the beautiful catalyst of complete desperation. It was then that Tyler Kleeberger was appointed to the community to help close the doors of Metamora United Methodist Church.
However, after experiencing such loss, the community had been opened in a profound way. It was in their suffering that reimagining their identity was not only necessary, it was now possible. In 2013, the community began exploring the question, "What else could the church be?" because it was the only hope for this 160 year old story to continue.
This led to forging a new identity, experimenting with questions and ideas that most never dreamed possible. In 2014, Farmhouse Sabbath began simply as a medium to bring neighbors together, but that became a new manifestation of church in a new way for a new day. The community began tapping into its ancient roots while exploring with creativity a new identity to not only continue its story, but to continue the story of the church.
act five - the farmhouse
Then came 2016.
As the community had grown immensely and was now taking on a very different expression of being the church assisted by the leadership of Harry Daniels, it became obvious that the community had evolved. It was still the community that began in 1853, but it had entered its next iteration. They were ready a restart; for a continuation to the next part of not only its story, but The Church's story as a whole.
Also at this time, in an age of church decline, the West Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church began a process of renewing its identity in the world. Under a New Church Start program, Metamora United Methodist Church officially began the process of reimagining its identity into something new.
The Farmhouse was born in 2018 - 165 years later.
Now, with rooting the community in who we have been, we are leaning into where we are going next.
Welcome to The Farmhouse, where the story continues.