The Purchase of Property
In 1985 the Ohio New Church Committee began demographic and growth studies in the Cincinnati area. In 1987 they began serious exploration for the purchase of real estate for the site of a new congregation.
In October of 1988 the Regional Board of Directors of the Christian Church in Ohio voted to purchase 6.8 acres located in Warren County, city of Mason, Ohio at the intersection of Tylersville Road and Fireside Drive. The congregation to be established here had as its purpose to connect to those without a church home.
The Calling of a Minister
The Regional Board of the Christian Church called Rev. George Reese as a Pastor/Developer to begin July 15, 1989. George and his wife Cory along with their three children moved to a home in West Chester. A provisional name was chosen as, “Tylersville Road Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).” In September of 1989, six families began meeting informally on Sunday evenings at 9309 Cincinnati/Columbus Road in a rented office space.
Blessing & Training
On October 15, 1989 a “Blessing of the site” and installation of the Pastor/Developer was held on the property. In November, George & Cory Reese, Lori Little, Pat Swartz, Rev. Bob Callender, Rev. Dr. Jim Cline, and Rev. Terry Van Heyningen (Associate Regional Pastor of the Christian Church in Ohio) attended a Pastor/Developer Training event in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The Calling of a Community
“The Phones for You” telemarketing campaign made over 10,000 telephone calls to homes in a 5 mile radius of the church property. Over 1200 households that were not currently active in a church responded positively and were placed on a mail list. Newsletters were sent and invitations went out to attend our first formal worship service.
Our First Service
On March 4, 1990, 289 persons gathered at the Western Row Elementary School in Mason for the first formal worship. 130 were from “The Phones for You” program invitation and the rest were friends who came to help celebrate the new birth! This was our beginning!
New Worship & Office Space, Community Connections
On Easter, April 14, 1990, 44 persons came forward to become founding members of the new congregation. During the summer we sent our first of many groups of children to camp, a profound and life-changing process for many whose experiences there from grades 3-12 shape their hearts and minds for Christ for the rest of their lives. By October of that year 76 members had joined and the congregation was chartered at the Regional Assembly that month.
In September 1991 Hopewell Junior School in West Chester on Cox Road became our new home. Classrooms and a larger worship space were needed to accommodate our 215 attendance and enable further growth. That December we held our first Live Nativity, building that initial stable from straw bales and filling it with live animals and with members dressed as Bible characters telling the good news of Jesus birth. All were welcomed with refreshments, music, and hospitality.
In the spring of 1992 we hosted the community Good Friday service, welcoming Christians from area churches to join together in worship. We welcomed community groups like Overeater’s Anonymous and an unemployment support group to meet in our office space. That was the summer we organized our first softball league, connecting to our community through sports. That summer was also when our choir began traveling to share their musical gifts with others, connecting to our community through music. St. Anne’s Episcopal Church and St. Susanna’s Catholic Church opened their doors to us that we might have a Christmas potluck and Christmas Eve service, respectively.
In March 1993 we needed additional office space and larger meeting rooms and moved to the 42 Building at 9624 Cincinnati/Columbus Road.
Plans Begin for our First Phase Building
In January 1994 with 162 members plans were made to start looking into the building process; before we could get loans and start our building, we were required to become self-supporting by the Ohio region. That fall a Strategic Planning group was formed to help create a building that would not only serve the congregation, but the larger community. In November we approved our Mission Statement to witness, worship, work, and walk together in faith, building up the Body of Christ and being open to the Spirit’s leading.
In March 1995 the Strategic Planning group shared their dreams for our future home to be a place of worship, administration, education, and fellowship/community service. From that point forward we began talking with architects to give shape to our dreams.
In March 1996 with a successful capital campaign coupled with funds from the Ohio region and national church we were able to move beyond the planning phase. We joined other churches as part of FAITH (Friends Assisting Individuals Through Hope) to better serve the needy in Mason and Deerfield Township. After worshiping in school building we looked forward to a place of our own where “A Growing Place for Mission” could be realized.
Breaking Ground & Moving In
On April 29, 1997 we broke ground for our Phase 1 building. On Easter Sunday, April 12, 1998 we held our first worship service there. On June 7, 1998 the building was dedicated as “A Growing Place for the Future.”
Additional Worship Service & Community Service
November 1998 saw the addition of an 8:15 a.m. Sunday service for those preferring an earlier, more meditative worship experience. We became involved in Habitat for Humanity to support housing for low-income neighbors in the area.
Serving our Community & Youth
In March of 1999 we began hosting MOMS of Mason as an educational support group for new parents. In July 1999 Steve Colon was called to serve the growing number of youth in our expanding congregation.
Spreading the Word
In August 1999 we began participating in Mason Heritage Days to continue to meet our neighbors. In September 1999 our congregational website went live in order to reach neighbors near and far.
Planting Seeds for the Future
In January 2000 we knew that we as a congregation were changing, as was our community. In order to be responsive to those changes we began a Faithful Planning program that helped us understand better who our community was and we were as people of faith. In June a youth mission trip to DC helped with home and church repairs and VBS. We began serving meals to the homeless in Over the Rhine in September and started a prison ministry. With other area churches we joined in worship to celebrate Thanksgiving.
“Walking Together” & Welcoming the New
In March 2001 we adopted a new motto, “Walking Today’s Journey of Faith Together” and built a storage shed to hold a new mower and other lawn equipment. We said farewell to Steve Colon in April. In June we welcomed youth from the DC church for a long weekend mission trip in Cincinnati. In August we welcomed Rev. Josh Baird as an Associate/Youth Pastor to continue ministering to the youth of our community. Debbie Osburn was welcomed as administrative assistant in September.
Feeding our Community
In April 2002 we broke ground for our Mission Garden, a community garden whose fresh vegetables fed the hungry in our neighborhood. Neighbors were invited to mingle with members among the rows of crops and share the fruits of our collective labors. Over the years these crops have helped feed Reach Out Lakota and the two soup kitchens we help support. In May we began hosting ARK (Adults Relating to Kids), a support group for parents within our community. In June a youth mission trip to DC helped with home repairs, painting, and VBS. That fall we began hosting a Financial Peace University that not only helped church members but community residents. This course would become a regular offering from this point forward.
Expanding our Site & Service
In May 2003 we purchased a double-wide modular to meet the growing needs of our expanding youth. In June a youth mission trip to Savannah, GA helped both elderly and low income residents with home repairs and upkeep.
In May 2004 we added a steeple and carillon to our sanctuary and created an outdoor worship space. In June a youth mission trip to Kansas City, MO helped local community organizations and built homes through Habitat for Humanity. Later that year we added an onsite food pantry to provide emergency supplies to the hungry in our community and surrounding neighborhoods.
In June 2005 a youth mission trip to DC helped with home repairs, painting, and VBS. We partnered with a local charity, Matthew 25 Ministries, in providing supplies to residents of the Gulf in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Having accomplished the five year goals from our Faithful Planning of 2000, we began discerning where God was calling us forward in the coming years.
Fond Farewells & Warm Welcomes
In February 2006 we said farewell to Rev. Josh Baird and hello to Ann Overturf who served as Children’s Youth Ministries Leader. In March the first of many hospital chaplains from our congregation began their training at Bethesda North. In May an adult mission trip to DC helped repair a fire escape. In June a youth mission trip to David, KY helped an Appalachian church with VBS and home repairs. That same year we initiated a Safe Sanctuary process that through training and screening provides the best environment for our youth.
In June 2007 a youth mission trip to Alderson, WV helped repair Appalachian homes. In July we welcomed Rev. Deborah Saxe as our new Associate Pastor with responsibilities for youth ministry. In September our Founding Pastor, Rev. George Reese, retired as did his wife Cory who had served as our Music Director for 17 years. We welcomed Rev. Larry Pigg as our Interim Minister and Deanna Reid as our Music Director.
Expanding our Reach
Within the search process of calling our next Senior Pastor we were busy praying, discerning whom God was calling to lead us in our next phase of congregational life. Despite this inward focus, our outward ministries continued to expand. In May 2008 an adult mission trip to New Orleans helped repair damage from Hurricane Katrina. In June a youth mission trip to Chicago helped inner-city residents with a soup kitchen, daycare program, landscaping, and serving in a food warehouse. That summer we welcomed a Summer Review Class to help local first-graders retain their knowledge heading into second grade. That fall we began serving with the Whiz Kids program, a tutoring service for elementary school children at Hopewell. We added another soup kitchen to serve the homeless in Walnut Hills.
Fond Farewells & Warm Welcomes
In June 2009 a youth mission trip to Cleveland, OH helped repair facilities for children, youth, and families struggling with mental illness, abuse or neglect. They went to Hiram, OH to build a greenhouse and compost bins for a farm that helps provide meaningful work for those with Autism Spectrum Disorders. In August we said farewell to Rev. Larry Pigg and in September welcomed our new Senior Pastor, Rev. Troy Sybrant. In June 2010 a youth mission trip to Atlanta, IL helped a church with VBS and helped the town clear parts of Route 66. June was also when we said farewell to Deanna Reid and in October we welcomed Jodi Adams as our new Music Director.
In July 2010 we said farewell to Rev. Deborah Saxe and in August welcomed Debbie Hagedorn as our Interim Youth Leader.
Deepening our Faith through Study and Service
In February 2010 we launched adult education small groups. We explored spiritual practices in the spring and different ways of prayer in the fall.
In February 2011 our Elders led small groups focusing on sharing our faith with others. In June a youth mission trip to DC helped a church with repairs, landscaping, moving a family to a new home, and organizing a VBS for the community. We joined 4 other local churches in a “summer lunch program” to feed schoolchildren that get reduced or free lunches at local schools, and who otherwise would miss this meal when school is out of session. In the fall of that year a multi-media “Jesus Saves” series shared the breadth and depth of God’s grace in Christ, and we welcomed prayers through our website from neighbors near and far. In October an adult mission trip to Tuscaloosa, AL helped repair tornado-damaged homes.
In February 2012 multiple small groups were launched on Sunday mornings including Bible study, relationship enrichment, and faith development. In April an adult mission trip returned to Tuscaloosa to continue repairs to tornado-damaged homes. In June a youth mission trip to Deer Lodge, TN helped the disabled with ramps, repairs at a homeless shelter, and free store work. In October an adult mission trip helped repair tornado-damaged homes in Joplin, MO.
Sharing our Blessings Near and Far
In January 2013 we became part of the Faith Alliance, a collaboration of congregations serving the needy in West Chester and Liberty Township. With the Faith Alliance we have collected food to feed the hungry, participated in community service projects, fed our neighbors, procured backpacks for local students, and helped make Christmas gifts possible for neighborhood children. In February an adult mission trip went to Slidell, LA to continue rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina of 2005. In April we relaunched our Mission Garden to once again share the abundant vegetables from God’s earth with neighbors. In June our youth mission trip went to Tuscaloosa, AL, while in September the adult mission trip went to Joplin, MO. In September we said farewell to Debbie Hagedorn as our interim youth leader. In October we offered our first pet blessing and adoption event to the larger community. In December we memorialized our founding pastor’s passing, and said farewell to Jodi Adams as our music director.
In January 2014 welcomed Annmarie Lyons as our new music director and launched a knitting group making homemade cold weather items for the homeless. In March an adult mission trip returned to Slidell, LA, while in July the youth mission trip went to Pittsburgh, PA to help inner-city youth. In July we welcomed Rev. Dr. Olivia Bryan Updegrove as our family pastor/youth coordinator. In September we began offering a free dance class to the community, and an adult mission trip went to Moore, OK to help rebuild after tornadoes. In October we created a mural that draws upon biblical stories involving water and ships, transforming the front of our worship space. In December we offered hospitality to the community with a collection of global nativity sets, refreshments, music, and more.
In March 2015 an adult mission trip went to Clarksdale, MS to help construct a new church building. In June a team was formed to help our congregation move beyond the provisional name we adopted in 1989. We began weaving “plarn” from recyclable grocery bags to create mats for the homeless. In July 2015 we thanked Annmarie Lyons for her service, and welcomed Susan Hartman as our new choir director and accompanist. That same month our youth went on a mission trip to Columbus, OH and Indianapolis, IN. In September we held our first community bonfire with music, devotionals, and s’mores. In October we said farewell to Rev. Dr. Olivia Bryan Updegrove, thanking her for bringing Children Worship & Wonder to us and helping equip parents to become spiritual educators for their children. In November Rev. Wilby Romain of the Dominican Republic shared the work he and his wife Lisa do for Haitians.
In January 2016 we celebrated all that we had experienced under our provisional name of “Tylersville Road Christian Church” and voted to become “Compass Christian Church.” We are a Disciples of Christ community, finding our way together to truth and life. In February we said farewell to Debbie Osburn as our administrative assistant. In March an adult mission trip went to Louisville, KY to prepare a poverty education program site. In April we welcomed Donne Hayden as our new administrative assistant, in May our redesigned website came online, in June we built a ramp for a neighbor with MS, filled knapsacks of love for the homeless, and our youth mission trip was to St. Louis. In July we hosted a Burgers & Blues cook out with live music. That summer we held Open Table Conversations learning about our community, Scripture, and how we might join in God’s work already underway locally. In October our adult mission trip was to Charleston, SC to repair flood-damaged buildings. In December we welcomed Ten Thousand Villages to join our Live Nativity with fair trade items for sale and collected gifts for Reach Out Lakota to insure local children had Christmas presents.
In February 2017 an adult and youth went to NY and DC and learned about the UN and met officials to learn how they can make a difference nationally and internationally. In February numerous members went to learn more about Islam and receive hospitality from the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati; we also collected nearly 1000 pounds of items to restock the food pantry. In April we helped at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore Center and in June Rev. Dr. Troy Sybrant received his Doctor of Ministry degree. In July we said farewell to Rev. Wilby Romain as he and Lisa returned to the Dominican Republic, and in the fall started a Christianity and Islam study as well as a new women’s Bible study. We began Know Your Neighbor groups to form deeper relationships with one another and broader relationships with our community.
In January 2018 we watched “The Sultan and the Saint” movie at the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati and dialogued about how past conversations between St. Francis and Sultan Malik Al-Kamil point us forward today. In February we learned how to address racism in today’s world, and in March hosted an organizing meeting of the Ohio Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. In May we commissioned Michelle McKay to do mission work on behalf of the DOC/UCC Global Ministries for 4 years in Haiti. In June we had a mission trip to Camp Christian to support this vital ministry to children and youth in Ohio; our Vacation Bible School offering went to replant olive trees in Palestine. In June we said farewell to our administrative assistant Donne Hayden and welcomed back Debbie Osburn in July. That fall we hosted fundraisers for an international mission trip, offered a class to the community on “The Bible & Homosexuality,” and discovered the cultural and historical forces shaping the church and new imagination needed for the future.
We launched 2019 by christening the new outdoor sign with Compass logo. We initiated monthly gatherings to deepen and broaden our connections within and beyond the church. We named and prayed our dreams for 2019, engaging topics like racism, what it means to be a welcoming community, and where God is calling us forward in faith. In April we hosted sister Disciple congregations for a Good Friday service and participated in a Thanksgiving service that fall. In June we sent our first international mission trip to the Dominican Republic and hosted a large and lively Vacation Bible School. That summer we explored what it means to be an open hearted, open minded, and open tabled church, with a series of 2020 recommendations.
We began intergenerational Sunday schools in the fall, engaging all ages with fun and hand- on learning. In September we dedicated an enclosed playground area courtesy of a member’s Eagle Scout project. We welcomed the West Chester book club onsite in the fall and that winter welcomed the West Chester Symphony Orchestra. We are blessed by the arts and the longstanding relationship we enjoy with the Cincinnati Civic Orchestra that performs here quarterly. In October we shared worship with St. Anne Episcopal Church on World Communion Sunday, and collected welcome baskets for local refugees. Guest speakers and song leaders helped shape our worship in new ways for the future. We ended the year by welcoming our mission coworker to share her experience of serving in Haiti.
Raising up Leaders across the Generations
Our congregation has been blessed to raise up 6 members to become ministers. Rev. Beckie Linn Gregory was ordained in 2002, Rev. Debbie Saxe in 2007, Rev. Rebecca Woods in 2008, Rev. Kara Swartz in 2011, Rev. Alan Dicken in 2013, and Rev. John Pohlman in 2015. We raised up Michelle McKay as a mission coworker to Haiti in 2018. For a congregation as young as ours to have raised up 7 leaders in a single generation is truly a blessing, one now shared with the larger world.
Compass Christian Church began in response to a call: to be Disciples of Christ among this community. From our history we know that God is active among and beyond us, and has good plans in store for us. Our founding mission continues to form our future, one you are invited to help create. There is history yet to be written, and you are invited to be part of it. You will find a congregation learning what it means to welcome, accept, and love everyone. With you we will walk the journey of faith before us, growing into the mission of God within our community.