Story by Heidi Shoemaker
Members of Massillon Connections, a church plant led by Cindy Ferguson and her retired-pastor husband, Ken, have worked for the past three years to create “connections” with 11 community agencies. Their primary purpose is to serve the community by donating food; distributing school supplies; serving dinners; leading devotionals; repairing homes; praying with families at the local hospital; offering grief counseling at the local senior center; and fundraising for area agencies. They are the hands and feet of Jesus—living, loving, connecting and serving their community.
“Where is your church?” is a recurring question Connections receives. Last August a core team was formed to consider that question. They began a prayerful search for a facility to rent. Having a diverse network of connections aided their search, and after vetting nearly 50 potential sites, their prayers were answered. They now meet and hold studies on the corner of Erie Street and Oak Avenue in a former beauty shop
in downtown Massillon. The site is well known to the Fergusons and the group, and several members and students reside in the building’s residential units. And since the real estate agent knew Ken through several past connections, she gave the group three months of free rent to complete the extensive renovations.
Located centrally to their target population, the church is only one block from the city of Massillon’s proposed green space expansion, and two blocks from the local YMCA. One of their long-term Bible study students, a thirtysomething single mother named Chris, is ready to be baptized and is actively engaged in growing Massillon Connections. Needing a place for baptisms, the Fergusons contacted the aquatics director of the YMCA, who agreed to let the group use their pool for the baptism at no charge, telling them she thought “it was a great witnessing opportunity.”
The Fergusons and their 13-member core team oversee more than a dozen online Bible studies, four in-home studies, extensive church renovations and existing outreach programs. Excited yet concerned about their growth rate, Cindy, the plant coordinator, has taken comfort in their church planting education curriculum, which teaches, “the resources are in the harvest.” God has helped reconnect former Adventist members with Connections, while bringing those hungry for His Word into the fold to share their talents with the diverse and growing ministry.
They plan to open the new church this month, ideally coinciding with their rst Connections baptism. “The Connections team covets your prayers for the Holy Spirit and laborers for the harvest as we seek to discern His will and expand His kingdom following the counsel in Ministry of Healing,” says Cindy. “Massillon Connections is connecting and serving people where they are, and we invite others to join us in the journey.”