By Brant Mills

Sunday, April 7, was a significant milestone for Bryan Community Church (BCC) as they officially chartered as a United Methodist Congregation. This was unlike any charter conference that church leadership had ever experienced. Bryan Community Church, a United Methodist congregation, was asked to merge with a United Church of Christ.

After a year of prayer and conversation, Faith United Church of Christ, inspired by the work of a newly forming congregation in Bryan, asked that they partner together. Faith UCC offered to become United Methodist and gave their church building for worship and ministry. With much gratitude, Bryan Community Church humbly accepted.

The April 7 chartering service brought together members of the community, including Rev. Jennifer Hodson, BCC’s pastor; Rev. Kip Gilts, District Superintendent; and Rev. Melissa Maher, Director of New Ministries Strategies. Over 140 people were in attendance as the congregation became officially recognized as a United Methodist church.

Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey offered words of encouragement saying:  “Friends, I want to commend you for your vision, creativity, commitment to the risen Christ, and love for this community. You have determined that you are better together, and my heart resonates with that. I am praying for you as you live into this renewed vision by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

The church’s pastor, Rev. Jennifer Hodson, expressed gratitude and excitement for the future of Bryan Community Church. She has been present in the Bryan area for seven years, but said the credit for the churches uniting around their faith has been much longer in the making. “We might technically be a 16-month-old church plant, but this wouldn’t have happened if our people hadn’t been so active in working with others, developing relationships, and building trust with the community for a very long time.”

When a church charters, it becomes an officially established congregation of the denomination. Bryan Community Church is considered a new United Methodist church. But there’s a deeper story here, as the people joining together to from BCC are a union of folks who have been worshiping and serving in Bryan together for years.

Members of Faith United Church of Christ have served the Bryan area since 1953. Fourteen years ago they moved to this new location seeking to meet the needs of an expanding population. There are also people who were part of First United Methodist Church which has been in Bryan since 1868. People from both these communities joined together, alongside others who want join this movement of “people who love God, love people and share hope.”

Rev. Hodson noted that leaders in the church have been out in the community, adopting elementary schools, baking cookies for high school basketball teams, leading non-profits, going and praying for first responders… “They have built relationships and earned credibility by leading with their faith over many years and being present. Those partnerships helped build trust, and working together allowed this to be possible.”

Of their new worship space, Hodson noted – “We’re a mission outpost. It’s really nice to have a place and space to learn and to grow, but the real work happens – not in an hour on Sunday morning – but throughout the week. That’s my charge. For others to see how vital relationships are beyond the building. That’s how we impact our community and make a difference.”

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