Becoming One with

Philadelphia UMC: FAQs 

 
Who is Philadelphia UMC?
 
• Philadelphia UMC is located on US 40 (2265 W US 40) between Greenfield and
Indianapolis (an 11-minute drive from Mt. Comfort Church). The church has met in the
Philadelphia community since 1835. The current building was constructed in two phases,
the educational building in 1980 and the sanctuary in the 1990s. This Philadelphia UMC
congregation has an undeniable love for Jesus, a passion for missions, and a dedication to
their community.
 
How did the “becoming one” conversation start?
 
• The possibility of a partnership between Mt. Comfort Church and Philadelphia UMC was
brought up to the respective pastors by the Conference Superintendent. The pastors met
in early July to discuss, pray about, and discern whether this possibility should be put
before the respective leaders to consider. The leaders from both congregations agreed
to explore this possible partnership; an exploratory team was formed to dive deeper into
the discussion and discernment phase. After a few meetings, it was decided that
becoming one church would be in the best interest of both congregations, the
community, and most important, the Kingdom of God. The exploratory team took the
recommendation to its respective leadership where its work was affirmed; it was decided
to put this merger in front of the congregations for further discussion and discernment
and to move forward with an official vote to become one.
 
Why are we talking about becoming one church?
 
• Becoming one church, by folding Philadelphia UMC into Mt. Comfort Church, is a benefit
to the individual congregations, the community, and the Kingdom of God. For Mt.
Comfort Church, this is an opportunity to expand the ministry to which God has called us.
Most specifically it gives us an opportunity to build relationships in a residential
community, something we will never have again at the Mt. Comfort location. For
Philadelphia UMC, this is an opportunity to continue building off their legacy in a new
way. They recognized the path they have been on is not sustainable long term; this
merger brings new life, resources, and excitement into their congregation. The
community gets to be a part of the revitalization of that church and benefit from the new
ministries and energy that will spring forth. The Kingdom of God will grow because of this
merger. Bottom line, we are talking about becoming one because we have committed
ourselves to transforming the community through the power and love of Jesus Christ; we
believe this is the door God is asking us to step through. Mt. Comfort Church was
identified as the best potential partner to make sure the ministry in Philadelphia moves
from surviving to thriving. This is not about one church saving the other; this is about two
churches in different stages of ministry which God has brought together in order to
accomplish more than either could on their own.
 
What is the worship attendance of Philadelphia UMC?
 
• Prior to COVID pausing their worship service, PUMC was averaging between 25-30 people
per week. Since resuming worship, they have been averaging between 10-15 people.
What is the financial health of Philadelphia UMC? Is Mt. Comfort Church at risk?
• The largest financial commitment for Philadelphia UMC, like it is for many churches, is
pastoral support. Their 2020 budget is $67,725, $33,725 of which goes toward pastoral
support. Their average weekly income so far this year has been $775. The basic math is
they bring in about $40,000/year with expected expenses at about $34,000/year (minus
pastoral support). They have some designated funds for missions, discipleship, and their
facility … and they carry no debt. Philadelphia UMC is a financially healthy church; they
simply cannot sustain their current pastoral support structure. Although Mt. Comfort
Church would assume responsibility for all assets of Philadelphia UMC, this is not seen as
a financial risk, quite the opposite.
 
What will the leadership structure look like?
 
• Keeping with the theme of becoming one and Philadelphia UMC folding into Mt. Comfort
Church, the leadership structure of the merged church will continue under the current
Mt. Comfort Church systems. Philadelphia UMC will be invited to sit two of their leaders
on the Mt. Comfort Church Leadership Team as full and active participants in the
governance of our one congregation.
 
What will be the name of the merged church?
 
• We will be under the Mt. Comfort Church name; Philadelphia UMC will be defined as “Mt.
Comfort Church at Philadelphia.” We will be one church with two locations: Mt. Comfort
and Philadelphia.
 
What will staffing look like?
 
• The current Mt. Comfort Church staff will assume responsibility for both campuses, with
Rev. Ethan Maple remaining as Lead Pastor. We believe our current staff structure is set
up well to serve this multi-site model, although we will be constantly evaluating what
staffing needs arise as we move forward as one church. With Pastor Janelda transitioning
into her new call away from Mt. Comfort Church in October, it does create space for us
to discern what type of role we need to help us moving forward. There will be no
immediate or knee-jerk hire; we want to do our due diligence to make sure we find the
right person for the right position. The only paid position at Philadelphia UMC, outside
their pastor, is their custodian. If that individual wants to remain in that role, s/he will
be invited to do so.
 
What will worship services look like as one church in two locations?
 
• The goal would be to create the same worship experience at both locations, even if the
same people are not leading at both locations. We want to make sure, regardless of the
location you attend, you will receive the same message and focus so that our entire
church family is on the same page. The style would reflect the best of our staff and
volunteers who help lead worship, marrying together both traditional and contemporary
elements that help us glorify God and be encouraged in our faith. It is our intention to
provide live worship at both locations, however we are keep all our options open in order
to provide excellent worship across the board (Philadelphia, Mt. Comfort, Virtual).
• When it comes to worship times, our current COVID climate makes it difficult to predict
what exactly will happen 3 months from now, but we can look at a few different scenarios.
The first would be having one service at each location; if that were to happen, we would
probably have a 9:00 a.m. service at the Philadelphia campus and a 10:30 a.m. service at
the Mt. Comfort campus. If the merger were to happen today, this is the most likely
scenario. The other possibility, based on attendance at the Mt. Comfort campus, would
be to have two services at the Mt. Comfort campus and one service at the Philadelphia
campus led by different teams. COVID certainly is a factor when it comes to our current
attendance numbers, and with cold and flu season right around the corner, we just are
not sure of the effect on attendance. Also, we will be asking for 20-30 people from Mt.
Comfort Church to help seed the Philadelphia campus for a season (3, 6, or 12 months) in
order to help that location reach critical mass and feel more full. This too will play a role
in our attendance numbers at the Mt. Comfort campus.
 
What will come of the Philadelphia UMC parsonage?
 
• Philadelphia UMC has a parsonage (on the west side of the church), but it has not been
occupied for several years. For the most part, it has been used for storage. In
conversations with the leaders at Philadelphia UMC, we are putting all options on the
table for what that parsonage could be used for in the future, depending on how much
we would like to invest in it. We could use it as part of a future staff person’s
housing/compensation. We could use it for missions, housing a food pantry, clothing
closet, etc. We could parcel the land out and sell it, using the proceeds for future
improvements to the Philadelphia campus.
 
Will the Philadelphia campus need any immediate improvements?
 
• The Philadelphia UMC congregation has taken excellent care of their facility, but there
are always projects. Outside the parsonage, which is mentioned above, the educational
side of the building will need a new HVAC system (sanctuary side was replaced 3 years
ago), and the parking lot could use some work. Structurally, the building is in excellent
condition, but there will be some surface-level things that need attention such as
painting, organizing, A/V upgrade, etc.
 
What missions’ projects is Philadelphia UMC involved with?
 
• Both Philadelphia UMC and Mt. Comfort Church are involved with and support the same
type of missions’ organizations, in some cases the exact same organizations. Both
churches currently support The Hope Center, The Hope House, Greenfield Food Pantry,
and the Kenneth Butler Soup Kitchen. Philadelphia UMC also supports several local and
worldwide programs and ministries that help share God’s love. As we become one, we
will evaluate our entire missions’ portfolio and figure out how best to serve and support
our community.
 
Will the Philadelphia campus be used as a Joyful Days Preschool and Childcare location?
 
• At this point, there are no plans to expand our childcare and preschool program to the
Philadelphia campus. The Philadelphia facility is not set up well to care for the age groups
we currently have enrolled. This may be a future consideration if there comes a point
when we believe we could expand this ministry well.
 
What are the current kids’ and student ministries at Philadelphia UMC?
 
• The Philadelphia UMC congregation has very few children and students; their current
numbers simply do not support a regular kids’ or student ministry. Small children and
students, however, do live in the surrounding community. As we become one, it will be
an early task to connect with those community families and discern how best we can build
relationships and serve them. The potential is exciting!
 
Where did Philadelphia fall short in growing that church in their community?
 
• It is hard to say, and the members of Philadelphia could give much better insight.
However, all churches (especially churches that have been around as long as
Philadelphia UMC) go through good times and difficult time. When churches do not
have the vision and/or leadership to overcome the inevitable challenges it can very
easily begin to cause their trajectory to point downward. Many factors come into play
for struggling churches, factors that are both in their control and beyond their control.
For the last several years Philadelphia UMC’s lack of kids and youth programs as well as
not having a full-time pastor for leadership has certainly played a role in their current
circumstance.
 
What will the Church Conference look like on September 30th as we vote to become one?
 
• There will be two Church Conferences (all-church meetings); one for Philadelphia UMC
and one for Mt. Comfort Church, although we will be gathering together. Philadelphia
UMC will convene their Church Conference first to consider two issues. The first issue is
approving the potential sell of the parsonage; this is not a decision to sell the parsonage,
merely the vote to consider selling the parsonage should these be deemed the best
option for the merged church. The second issue is to approve the merger. Mt. Comfort
Church’s Church Conference will then be convened (assuming Philadelphia UMC
approves the merger) to vote on merging. The result, we hope, we be an opportunity to
celebrate these two congregations voting to become one as we follow God’s call into
this exciting new chapter of ministry.