New pastor hopes to draw members from neighborhood

BELPRE – Since coming to Belpre Heights United Methodist Church, 720 Clement Ave., last July, the Rev. Rod Brower’s main goal has been to draw members into the church from the surrounding neighborhood.

“The ministry is growing,” he said. “And that’s something that was one of my goals.”

Brower said that attendance has grown an average of 12-15 people per service over the last year.

“Our goal, still, is to minister to our neighborhood, and we’re working at doing that,” he said. “We see our ministry in the community of Belpre, but more specifically to the neighborhood known as Belpre Heights.”

Brower said the church has always been a neighborhood church since forming in the early 1900s and he wants to keep it that way.

“We want to regain that sensibility about ourselves,” he said.

Brower said the church holds several events each year to draw in members from the community, including breakfast with Santa and breakfast with the Easter Bunny. He said this year the church is planning a “Dog Days” event in conjunction with Willow Ridge Veterinary Service on May 18 where there will be low-cost vaccinations given to pets.

Coming up this month the church will hold a revival April 25-28. At 7 p.m. April 25 there will be a praise and prayer night. On April 26 evangelist Cinde Lucas will be speaking at 7 p.m.. On April 27 there will be a women’s retreat from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. A soup and sandwhich lunch will also be provided.

“That’s a women’s retreat for any woman in the area that wants to come,” he said. “There’s not very many of those that happen in this area.”

He said they are hopeful to make it an annual event based on the turnout for this year’s retreat. The revival will end with an 11 a.m. service on April 28 followed by a luncheon.

Other upcoming events include a Vacation Bible School in July and a homecoming celebration in August.

Brower has been in the Mid-Ohio Valley for three years. He began at Decatur United Methodist Church and Living Faith United Methodist Church. At the time, these two churches were in a partnership together. Eventually, Decatur United Methodist left the partnership. Shortly after, Belpre Heights United Methodist entered into the partnership with Living Faith.

“Beginning July 1 this year, I will be full time here and I will leave my service from Living Faith,” he said.

Brower and his wife, Sherry, are originally from Waverly, Ohio. He has been in ministry full time since 1991 and began in ministry in 1984. He has a bachelor’s degree from Ohio University and a Master’s of Divinity from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.

“I’m currently working on a doctor of ministry with Ashland Theological Seminary,” he said.

He said he still has about a year and a half before completing his doctorate.

Although he has served a several churches in different areas over the years, he wants to stay in Belpre.

“I hope to stay here for a long while,” he said.