The idea of a church doing things differently became rooted in me (Jon) during my teenage years. When sitting next to visitors, or inviting new friends to church, I often noticed their struggle to differentiate between a hymnal and a Bible. I wondered if the ideas and concepts coming from the pulpit were communicated in a way someone new to church could grasp and understand. At this point in my life, God planted a seed in me.
I also witnessed individuals who would "play church," going through the motions on Sunday morning but living messy and broken lives during the week. No one discussed it. No one prayed about it. Eventually, those people disappeared. I longed for a church in which people were challenged to follow after Christ while being transparent in the struggle.
During my graduate training, Christine and I were assigned to complete our intern training at High Point Baptist Chapel. We quickly discovered the church's interest in recruiting individuals to plant new churches. God's answer to my teenage vision came when our first meeting as Cocalico Community Chapel was held with a small group of five people in our home in September of 1991. After outgrowing our living room, a dozen adults launched our first worship service on Sunday, March 27, 1992 at the Comfort Inn in Denver, PA. After meeting there for five months, God provided a church building in Fivepointville for our new home. We continued to meet there for five years until we outgrew this building and God provided Gehman's Mennonite School. This would be our home for the next 18 1/2 years. Teams of people set-up and tore down each week, but this gracious partnership allowed our church to expand through a season of adding staff, a second service and various ministries.
In the fall of 2007, knowing we would one day need our own facility, a team formed to search for land. This search ended with the purchase of a 40 1/2 acre farm across the street from Gehman's Mennonite School. We paid off the land in 10 months and began to make plans to build. Raising funds was a slow process and we wondered when a building would become a reality. In the spring of 2014, a realtor contacted our facility team and told us of a church building about to be put on the market. This news resulted in a flurry of activity as our facility, staff and elder team evaluated this possibility. As they sensed God leading in this direction, with the support of our membership, the building was purchased in August of 2014. After eight months of renovations, we moved into our new facility on Sunday, June 7, 2015. It is remarkable how God directed our steps in providing the right place for our church for each season to impact our community.
Through a series of set-ups and tear-downs, packing and unpacking, God has allowed my teenage vision to come to life at CCC. It has become a place that gives people the time and space to investigate Christianity. We have seen God reach out and draw people to Himself. We have seen Cocalico become a place where we can discover how to experience true biblical community with one another.