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Euclid Baptist Changes To New Hope Bible

Nina Culver Correspondent

After six years of evaluation and study, Euclid Avenue Baptist Church has changed its name and style of worship, and the congregation has put its building up for sale.

New Hope Bible Church, 2804 E. Euclid, switched from a traditional Protestant style of worship to a praise format, said the Rev. Jon Wright, who has been pastor there for 15 years.

“I think that every once in a while a church needs to retool itself,” Wright said.

The church, with 180 to 200 attending each Sunday, also ditched programs geared toward nuclear families and changed them to accommodate households with both husbands and wives working.

As many churches have done in recent years, New Hope Bible has “decentralized” the church, Wright said. Rather than hold midweek services on a set day and set time at the church, members meet in one another’s homes for Bible study at a day and time that’s convenient for them.

“The cell groups meet at whatever night is convenient,” Wright said.

“We have seen a lot more young families come into the church in the last year,” he said. “We’re on the beginning of something good.”

There’s also an additional benefit of the name change.

“The denomination label keeps a lot of people from coming, period,” said Wright. But with a nondenominational name like New Hope Bible, “people tend to be more willing to visit.”

Euclid Baptist was a member of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches, and Wright wants New Hope Bible to also belong to the denomination. “We want to continue our relationship with them, and I don’t anticipate a problem,” he said. “We’re still Baptistic.”

The transition of worship style didn’t come about without a few bumps and bruises. Even though the congregation voted to implement the changes, about 80 members left.

“We’ve lost more than I’d hoped for,” said Wright, who thinks better communication about the process might have prevented some from leaving.

“I blame me more than those who left,” he said. “I wish them the best. Not everybody can make this journey.”

But new members have arrived to help fill the gap.

“We’ve been reaching a lot of unchurched people, which is our goal,” the pastor said. “Our focus is on ministry and people rather than on structures, which is where it needs to be.”

The church has set several goals for itself, including reaching a membership of 1,500 by 2020, buying a 20-acre plot of land with a new church, and having church members participate in a variety of foreign mission efforts.

“We’ll get there,” Wright said. “I have no question in my mind.”

Still, exact numbers aren’t important, he said.

“The important thing is that it’s reaching people and it’s relevant,” he said.

Dedication of New Hope Bible Church will be Sept. 14, with the Rev. Richard Rollins from the San Francisco Bay area as guest speaker.

Sunday worship service is at 10:30 a.m.

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