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Meadow Park Church of God

Bethel Road congregation plans second site

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LORRIE CECIL/THISWEEKNEWS
The Rev. Diane Thatcher of Meadow Park Church of God said the congregation is excited about expanding to a Powell campus by next spring.
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Diane Thatcher, pastor of multi-site development for Meadow Park Church of God, is preparing to suit actions to title.

If all goes according to the "Vision 2020" plan devised by members of the congregation and the Rev. Paul Strozier, senior pastor, shortly after he came on board in 2011, by next March the mega-church on Bethel Road will have what amounts to a sort of branch office in the Powell area.

In the process of developing a second site, the Pathway Church of God in Delaware is closing and the building on Pennsylvania Avenue is in contract to be sold, according to Thatcher, who has been interim pastor at Pathway for the past year.

Members of that church will meet temporarily at 2425 Bethel Road until a potential location near the intersection of Sawmill Parkway and Home Road opens, tentatively March 2.

"I'm very excited about it, because it's an opportunity for the ministry to continue," Thatcher said.

Thatcher is the newest member of Meadow Park Church of God's pastoral staff, although she and her husband, Dick, have been church members for more than 20 years. She began serving as pastor of multi-site development on a volunteer basis in March 2012.

However, it was quickly realized by Meadow Park's expansion into Delaware County, that Mrs. Thatcher was needed on staff in a paid position according to information on the church's website.

"We looked at do we want to build a bigger building, and we realized that's not really what we're about," Thatcher said in an interview.

"We see the church as a family of families and we feel that people are impacted through relationships with each other, with God," she said.

"We have members of our congregation living in Powell and pockets around our greater community

"A lot of people have this idea of sending the church out, but if you think of the people as the church, the church is already there."

"We're very excited," said Cindy Heath, communications director for Meadow Park Church of God.

"We have some things that will be coming up, events in the Powell area that we will be part of," Heath said.

"We're excited to reach out and build relationships with the people in Powell."

"We want to just learn about our neighbors and begin to see what the needs are," Thatcher said.

"I think that's the beauty of it.

It's not like a parachute jump.

"We're already there so we're basically just gathering in a place we call home."

The plan to add a second site results, in part, from members of Pathway Church of God approaching Ohio Ministries, the coordinating body for Church of God congregations throughout Ohio.

Membership at the Delaware site had dwindled but remaining members wished to continue helping in the surrounding community, Thatcher said.

Church officials are still in the process of deciding whether to buy land to erect a new building in the target area or save that money and meet in rented space, she added.

"We're embracing this vision of being one church in several locations," Thatcher said.

"This is a different approach to pursuing and fulfilling the mission of the church through replication of the congregation in new communities rather than perpetual expansion at a central location," she wrote in an email.

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