PIQUA — The former Piqua Congregational Christian Church, which held its last service last Easter, is not gone with the wind. New life and opportunities are gradually rising out of the old church in the form of a new church and soon-to-be nonprofit called Fusion.
“Fusion is … an interfaith spiritual community,” Karen Jamison, pastor of Fusion, said. “We’re based on the principle of developing relationships with individuals and organizations to discover and develop the talents and gifts of the community and match them with the needs of the community.”
A five-member trustee board still owns the church building that Fusion is taking over and planning to use to fill needs within the community. Fusion is currently part of the United Church of Christ and is working on becoming a 501c3 nonprofit. While they are in that process, they are still a ministry of the former Piqua Congregational Christian Church.
“Congregational Christian didn’t officially close,” Jamison said. “What they will be doing is, twice a year, we’ll be having what they call a Historic Celebratory Service.”
The services will celebrate the history of the church, and the church is planning on having a traditional service on Easter Sunday. The church is also considering another Historic Celebratory Service for sometime in summer, like July.
“July was their charter date,” Jamison said.
Fusion emerged out of the former Piqua Congregational Christian Church after Jamison saw a place that could be used to help the community and form relationships with each other.
“We’re a place to serve,” Jamison said.
Jamison has a development team working with her at Fusion, where the majority of the members are under the age of 40.
“It’s going back to creating the church in the book of Acts,” Jamison said, stating that those involved are “coming together and living in community.” Jamison added that as people get involved in Fusion little by little, “then they get to see the bigger picture.”
Fusion is currently ramping up some of their new initiatives to address those needs in the community, particularly focusing on students and children in Piqua.
The first of those areas for people to serve is through mentoring a student at Piqua City Schools as part. In partnership with Piqua Community Connectors, Fusion is a part of Kids Hope USA in the Piqua City Schools. Four other churches in Piqua are involved in that mentorship program, including Westminster Presbyterian Church, Greene Street United Methodist, Christian Life Center, and Upper Valley Community Church.
In the mentorship program, a community member is partnered with a PCS student, with whom they spend one hour a week. The hour is not about helping the student with homework, but giving the student someone with whom to connect.
The community member partnered with the student has to be either a member of one of the four other churches involved in the program or a volunteer through Fusion.
“We don’t have members, we have Covenantal Partners,” Jamison said.
Due to Fusion’s membership structure, members of the community who are not members of one of the other partner churches can volunteer to mentor or to be a prayer partner through Fusion. The Covenantal Partners meet with Jamison or another member of their team at least once a year.
Fusion has placed seven mentors with kids at PCS. There are approximately a dozen other mentors in the process of getting placed with a student.
Fusion’s also is working on creating a literacy or study center to provide a place for students of any age to come and have access to study and do homework. Fusion has received two grants to begin working on this center.
The first step is to upgrade the electrical wiring within the area to be used for the center and to put in a wireless network throughout the facility. According to Jamison, Fusion is partnering with the Upper Valley Career Center to do the upgrades for the electricity in that building.
The idea of having the center came about after PCS’ recent REACH program began, in which some students have received chromebooks to complete learning modules. Future plans include adding technology and a lending library.
Also in connection with the schools, Fusion will be creating a school supply pantry.
“The basis behind it is, our community does a really nice job in August in stuffing the backpacks,” Jamison said. “But those are usually gone by December.” Those supplies are also geared toward younger kids.
“Teachers and school staff generally fill the in gaps,” Jamison said.
Jamison explained that one of her daughters once taught at a low-income school where 100 percent of the students received free lunches. “She estimated she spent about a third of her annual salary in buying supplies for her students. So the idea behind this is to do a continuous donation drive at community churches (and) community organizations, and this is where it would be stored.”
The pantry will be available during the school year for teachers, counselors, mentors, youth leaders, and others to access.
During this season of Lent, Fusion is also planning on offering “Color Your World” sessions, a series of gatherings centered around using coloring as a spiritual practice, Jamison said. They will be “exploring how to use the current trend with adult coloring books to relax, meditate, pray” and otherwise boost the attendees’ spiritual lives, according to Jamison.
“Color Your World” sessions will be at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays, Feb. 23, March 1, March 8, March 17, March 22, and March 29. They will be held at the church, located at 421 Broadway St. in Piqua.
Those interested in taking part in the mentorship program, donating to the school supply pantry, or with questions can contact Karen Jamison at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Fusion’s website at FusionUCC.org.
Reach reporter Sam Wildow at (937) 451-3336 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall