Michigan’s ‘Church in Drive’ Celebrates a First Anniversary

“Celebrating the Church of the Brethren’s 300th Anniversary in 2008″

(Jan. 15, 2008) — The Church in Drive, a church plant of New Life Christian Fellowship in Mount Pleasant, Mich., is celebrating the one-year anniversary of its first official prayer meeting. This prayer meeting, held in Jan. 2007, involved pastor Nate Polzin along with Jeannie Kaufmen, Vanessa Palmer, and Jessica Herron, who drove throughout Saginaw, Mich., praying for those in need.

Polzin began his career in campus ministry at the Church of the Brethren’s New Life Christian Fellowship. There he directed the program “Standing in the Gap,” geared to bringing college students closer to Christ. The program began at Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, and incorporates a weekly Bible study, service projects, game nights, concerts, dances, and football tailgating. “The college campus is one of the greatest missionary fields and we have seen a lot of students come to Christ,” said Polzin.

After being called to ministry while working at New Life, Polzin believed it was time to reach out to a new community. “I felt God really started to talk to me about starting a new church” he said. This call was supported by New Life Christian Fellowship as well as the Michigan District Board. “The Michigan District people are very excited for the Church in Drive and all that Nate Polzin is doing,” said district executive minister Marie Willoughby.

Saginaw was selected as a location for the new ministry because of the economic hardships facing the community, caused partly by the struggling auto industry in the area. The location’s close proximity to Saginaw Valley State University, where Polzin began a second chapter of Standing in the Gap, was also a factor in the decision.

“The auto industry is going down the tank and the community is suffering from an economic depression” said Polzin. The auto industry’s influence in the community was one of the leading factors for selecting the name “The Church in Drive” for the new plant. The name is both a symbol of hopeful progress for the community, and a reference to Jeremiah 29:7. According to the Church in Drive mission statement, the Jeremiah passage relates how “God tells His people to seek the shalom of the city they are living in, for as the city prospers, they too will prosper.”

Polzin hopes to bring a sense of community and safety to the citizens of Saginaw through creating a location that is not only a place of worship, but a place for events and a way to offer a circle of support. The Church in Drive is currently being housed in a remodeled jewelry store. Polzin hopes the recent addition of cable television and Internet access will allow for a more comfortable setting as well as a wider variety of activities throughout the week.

The Church in Drive also is based heavily on prayer. “Prayer Partners,” an initiative through the church’s website, is searching for dedicated volunteers to pray daily for the Church in Drive’s success. Polzin continues the theme of prayer in the Saginaw community by asking businesses for their individual prayer requests.

As for Standing in the Gap, it has expanded also, with a second chapter at Saginaw Valley State University drawing a regular attendance of 10-15 students for Bible study and prayer meetings. Polzin hopes for a bright future for the continuing campus ministry, and plans to assist in the formation of nine other chapters at surrounding campuses including schools such as Michigan State University.

–Brethren Press intern Jamie Denlinger is a senior English major at Ohio University, and has been an outreach intern at Prince of Peace Church of the Brethren in Kettering, Ohio.

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The Church of the Brethren Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren General Board. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. To receive Newsline by e-mail go to http://listserver.emountain.net/mailman/listinfo/newsline. Submit news to the editor at cobnews@brethren.org. For more Church of the Brethren news and features, subscribe to “Messenger” magazine; call 800-323-8039 ext. 247.