Christian Chronicle

Pandemic and politics exacerbate challenges facing an Ohio church

The congregation’s experience reflects ‘the emotional tension that seems to be really big in the country as a whole.’

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

MARYSVILLE, Ohio — This one-time farm town about 30 miles northwest of Columbus is booming.

The century-old Marysville Church of Christ is not.

Even before the pandemic, the congregation in central Ohio struggled to increase its flock, much less match the area’s rapid growth.

The past few years only exacerbated the numerical concerns as the congregation — like many Churches of Christ — grappled with COVID-19 restrictions, George Floyd’s murder and the nation’s political polarization.

Related: Why are some Christians so angry?

“It’s not just the debates that are going on and the differences in opinion,” said Madison Darby, 27, a freelance editor whose husband, Bishop, serves as associate minister. “It’s the emotional tension that seems to be really big in the country as a whole.”

Minister and elder Jeff Darby, Madison’s father-in-law, feels that tension, too, in this Republican-leaning city of 26,000, where nearly two-thirds of voters supported former President Donald Trump in 2016 and again in 2020.

“It makes it tough. It really does,” the 50-year-old preacher said of staying focused on kingdom matters. “We really strive not to engage in political things, especially something that is clearly not a Scriptural issue.”

He’d rather focus on his congregation’s mission field — the thousands of new homes and apartments that keep replacing Marysville’s soybean and corn cropland.

Read the full story.

This story appears in the October edition of The Christian Chronicle.

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