The story of Pathway Church , formerly identified as Forest Hills Community Church , began in June of 1998 when the Andrews family, Roger, Linda, Emily and Tyler, moved to Strongsville, Ohio, a southwest suburb of Cleveland , to start a church from scratch. Strongsville was chosen because it had led Cuyahoga County in new housing starts for fourteen years with approximately 250 new homes built annually. Also a factor, only a small number of Strongsville residents, approximately 25%, attend church regularly. That means that almost 75% show little to no interest in what traditional churches have to offer.
The dream was to plant a culturally-relevant church that would specifically target unchurched people using contemporary music, entertaining drama and life-changing messages from God’s word. However, the dream didn’t stop there. Not only was the goal to reach the unchurched with the gospel of Jesus Christ, but also to help new believers grow in Christ and train them to continue the process.
Following several months of contacting and personal outreach, a core group of about 30 people was formed to begin the work. At this time, Jay Guerrero, along with his wife, Julie, and son, Jake (James was added to the fold in 2002), joined the staff as part-time Music and Program Director. This small group of adventurous souls began meeting weekly for Bible study, training and prayer. After three months of growing, learning, sacrificing, praying and dreaming together, Pathway Church held its first public service on March 28, 1999, Palm Sunday, at Kinsner Elementary School . Nearly 180 people attended as a result of personal invitations, newspaper ads and mailers that were sent to some 20,000 homes.
The following Sunday attendance dropped to about 90, but the unchurched in the community continued to visit. Today, nearly nine years later, we’re averaging in excess of 220 people for our Sunday service, a program designed to meet the needs of “spiritual seekers,” those investigating the claims of Christianity, rather than the already convinced. We’re determined to provide seekers with a safe atmosphere from which to carry on their search into biblical truth. Moreover, we’re also committed to employing a variety of current and creative media forms for conveying God’s word, including videos, dramas, vocals and relevant, down-to-earth messages on topics seekers can relate to and apply to their lives.
The greatest joy during the past five years has been the 300 plus people who have committed their lives to Jesus Christ. Many of these new believers have also become involved in one-on-one discipleship and home groups, as well as employing their gifts and abilities serving in the church.
In the spring of 2003, our founding pastor, Roger Andrews, sensed a stirring from God to assist a church in Fort Wayne, Indiana to become a seeker-sensitive ministry. Following his departure, God clearly and unmistakably led us to call Kip Kratche, along with his wife, Jeri, and kids, Alexis, Jordan and Drew, as our new senior pastor.
The fall of 2004 brought a name change, Pathway Church being officially adopted in an effort to better represent our ministry as we continue to help unchurched people discover a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ, exemplified by our watchwords “Discovering Life – Following Christ.” Then, in June of 2005, Pathway acquired the Old Strongsville Rec Center as its new home with plans to occupy the renovated facility in November – a time of great thanksgiving!
For those who took the first steps of faith to start Pathway Church, words cannot describe the overwhelming sense of wonderment in what God has accomplished and continues to do in our midst. It’s a miracle unfolding before our very eyes. Looking back, we can say with certainty that every ounce of sacrifice was worth it. Still we believe with all our hearts that God is just beginning His work here. The best for Pathway Church , and our corner of Northeast Ohio , is yet to come!