FBCO Fosters New Church in Cincinnati

In 2020, FBCO sent pastor Brandon Kiesling and layman Mike Smith to suburban Cincinnati to explore mission opportunities with the intent of finding a new church partner to support.

A benefit of working with a new church plant for several years is the opportunity for FBCO members to participate in starting and growing a new work. Cincinnati was attractive for several reasons.

Cincinnati is a Southern Baptist priority area through its North American Mission Board (NAMB). The missions board identifies Cincinnati as a SEND city, which means a US area underserved by Southern Baptists. The city is also a six-hour journey from FBCO, making more trips possible, planning easier, and reducing costs to those who participate.

The four-year-old church Brandon identified as a possible partner turned out to be well past the planting stage: It was running close to 400 despite COVID and was financially stable. It was itself planning to start a new work in nearby Hamilton, OH, with a pastor—Ben Mangrum—who had served a one-year internship with the sending congregation.

After learning more about the new Hamilton opportunity—Inspiring Hope Church (IHC)—the FBCO Missions Team decided to enter into a three-year partnership with Mangrum. As a church we committed to help fund IHC for a three-year period and send mission teams each year.

In 2021, FBCO sent three mission teams to Hamilton. Two were open to anyone and one was for high school students. The first team arrived just after IHC launched last Easter when the church moved from meeting in Ben’s home to worshiping in space loaned by a crisis pregnancy center.

(The pregnancy center is allowing IHC to meet there through December 2022.)

One of the things that appealed to the Missions Team about Ben’s vision is his desire to plant other churches in the Hamilton area. His strategy toward that is to have IHC engage in building relationships and meeting needs in the area. Once a month, for example, IHC’s Sunday morning service is set aside and church members perform mission projects in the community.

Ben also coaches his daughter’s YMCA soccer team, getting to know other parents in the process. He also supports nearby educators by offering motivational sessions and breakfasts to a local school staff.

The FBCO teams this year supported the church’s efforts in Hamilton. Two FBCO teams provided Chik-Fil-A dinners after practices of Ben’s soccer team.

In October, FBCO’s on-site team went into an elementary school to pass out staff appreciation gifts that included Starbucks gift cards and personal items. At another school, FBCO made popcorn, cotton candy, and snow cones for students as they enjoyed inflatables and athletic activities.

All three FBCO mission teams this year went door to door in Hamilton neighborhoods, telling residents about IHC, praying with them, and learning of needs IHC might fulfill.

In July, 10 high school students from FBCO supported IHC’s VBS in July, reusing materials from FBCO’s own VBS.

Michelle Sifford led the Hamilton VBS and said “It was a good trip. The kids were so involved in VBS and really had a good time.” (Our FBCO) youth did such a good job.” About 20 children attended throughout the week to enjoy various activities and hear a gospel presentation.

FBCO teams also hosted neighborhood block parties, provided lunch to firefighters, trained IHC’s children’s workers, cleaned and organized facilities at IHC’s faith-based partners, and purchased and distributed basic personal items to a men’s rehab center.

With FBCO’s support, IHC has grown to about 50 people in its services and has recorded one baptism.

In 2022, FBCO plans to send two more Hamilton teams in April and the fall. Trips are open to FBCO members on a first-come basis. Teams will be 10-12 persons each.

Follow Inspiring Hope Church through its Facebook page @inspiringhopechurch or website.