A new church opened in Westerville Sept. 7 in the conference center at 585 Office Parkway.

A new church opened in Westerville Sept. 7 in the conference center at 585 Office Parkway.

Pastor Herb Koonce said in the short time since Central Baptist Church was established, attendance has averaged around 50.

"We had 56 on the last Lord's day," he said. "We believe that God has much more room for other Bible-preaching churches in the community. Every time I drive to church, it seems like most cars are still in the driveway, so there is a need here."

The church is renting the space from the Westerville Conference Center, he added.

Koonce, who was pastor at Calvary Bible Baptist Church on Cleveland Avenue in Westerville for many years, said when it was time for him to move on, he and his wife, Kathy, felt that God was calling them to help found a new church in the city.

"The easy thing would have been to move to a ministry that was already successful, but my wife and I prayed that our remaining years of ministry would be years of faith," he said. "After praying about it, we found that there were still people here that needed a church, and we would be remiss not to (help)."

Koonce said Central Baptist was founded on three points of focus: the Great Commission (to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit), the Great Commandments (love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength), and the great compassion by reaching out to the community.

"It comes down to loving God, loving your church family, loving those around you, and reaching out to those around you," Koonce said. "We're hoping that people who are tired with just religion and ritual will come and they can grow, and have a relationship with the living Christ and be part of a ministry that's larger than themselves."

While the church has been hosting one service and one Bible study a week, Koonce said if the congregation continues to grow, he hopes new initiatives can be put in place.

"We would like to offer some sort of in-depth, citywide family life seminars that would be available to those who can't afford that sort of thing, and we've talked about working in touch with WARM (Westerville Area Resource Ministry)," Koonce said. "Our goal is also to develop relationships with missionaries for their support, and to also possibly offer some sort of addiction ministries."

Koonce said if the congregation continues to grow as it has been, members may soon be forced to look for a larger worship facility. It's an exciting time for the church, he said.

"I pastored for over 20 years in New England, and I've learned that you can't beat people over the head with the word of God," he said. "All you can do is tell them a truth and let them figure it out for themselves."

Central Baptist Church meets on Sunday mornings at 10 a.m. and holds Bible studies on Thursdays at 7 p.m.

More information is available online at www.centralbaptistministries.net or by calling (614) 204-4309.

lrice@thisweeknews.com