It is official. Fusion became a chartered church of the Dakotas Conference and The United Methodist Church on Sunday, October 3 2017. Bishop Bruce R. Ough, resident bishop, was on hand to congratulate, share God’s word and present the charter. Photo: Ribbon cutting for Fusion UMC's charter Sunday. Fusion pastor Matt Morrison (scissors) did the cutting.
“The significance of this day of chartering Fusion as an official, grown-up, congregation of The United Methodist Church is ultimately about establishing the home of God,” said Ough. "We are affirming today, declaring today, that Fusion UMC is the earthly context in which God comes to dwell with us and redeem His people. That’s what we’re doing today.”
Fusion is located on the campus of Dakota Wesleyan University (DWU). Weekly worship began in September of 2012 and Fusion began to grow. More than 150 people now worship weekly as Fusion Church in the awesome space of the DWU Sherman Center.
What is chartering? Chartering is the process through which a new church start becomes self-sufficient within the structure of The United Methodist Church. It means that the worshipping body has reached a point in ministry that no longer needs the direct support or supervision of the Dakotas Annual Conference.
The stability and sustainability of the church are key to deciding if it is time to charter. Reverend Roger Spahr, Glacial Lake district superintendent, describes the decision as intentional and collaborative between the church and the conference. “Fusion is very stable and has a sustainable, bright future in front of them,” said Spahr. Photo: Bishop Ough, Fusion pastor Matt Morrison, and District Superintendent Roger Spahr took a few minutes to celebrate on charter Sunday.
Reverend Matt Morrison currently serves at Fusion and describes the decision to charter as a celebration moment. “I think for Fusion, the opportunity to charter is an opportunity to celebrate God's faithfulness as so many church plants never reach a point of sustainability. The foundation laid down by (Reverend) Brandon Vetter and all those who helped dream Fusion into existence continues to inform and inspire us to live into that pioneering spirit as we dream and pray about where God is calling us in the season ahead. Chartering, in a sense, is a confirmation that Fusion is still a dream worth pursuing,” said Morrison.
Reverend Brandon Vetter, Bismarck Legacy UMC, was the first pastor appointed to serve at Fusion. Morrison was appointed to Fusion UMC in July of 2015.
When a worshipping community charters as a new United Methodist Congregation, the UM members go onto the new church’s rolls as “charter members.” Joel Allen is a charter member of the Fusion UMC. Allen described that the idea of planting a UM church on the DWU campus started with a few key people. It is believed to be the only such cooperatively planted church across The United Methodist Church.
“Services started on a monthly basis at first in the fall of 2011 and this was our first fall here at DWU. Kitty (my wife) and I were involved from the start,” said Allen. “We started weekly services the following fall and from the start the focus was on outreach. We marched in parades, had movie nights and inflatables in the Sherman Center for kids in the dead of winter. Our growth was remarkable.”
A focus for Fusion is to reach people who are unchurched. “We are a church that is passionate about reaching out to people who do not yet know Jesus or who have disconnected from a church for one reason or another. We aim to go where people are, to engage the community and to host events that bring people together.” (mitchellfusion.com)
Glenda Gerlach, also a charter member of Fusion, describes the church as comfortable, welcoming and inviting. “About seven years ago, my father passed away suddenly. I was filled with several emotions but got to the point of not wanting to feel anymore. My husband and I decided to go to Fusion one Sunday to listen to our nephew play in praise band. We knew from that one Sunday this is where we needed to be,” said Gerlach. “The people of Fusion welcomed us with open arms and remembered us the next Sunday. The music helped me to heal again. There was a lot of God’s power in one small place.”
Dr. Amy Novak, DWU president, states that Fusion is an integral part of the DWU community. “Fusion has played a pivotal role in reaching people who previously did not have a faith community. Our students, faculty and staff have all valued and benefited from the partnership. The growth of this church on our campus speaks to the vital link between the university and the church as we seek to work collaboratively to develop bold, spirit leaders for the transformation of the world.” Photo: The Sherman Center, where Fusion holds its services, is located in the heart of the Dakota Wesleyan University campus.
“God has a home here at Fusion. The best gift we can offer God today, the best gift that Fusion can offer God today, is to continue to welcome Jesus into this home…The best gift you can offer God today, is to continue to invite others from the neighborhood to come and experience the living God,” said Ough, in his sermon during the worship service where the charter was presented.
Now Fusion will begin shaping their future. “We are in a season of redefining our vision and values right now,” said Morrison. “One thing that we keep circling around to is that, as a church that is located in the heart of a college campus, we are in a unique position to have our greatest impact by equipping and sending people. Whether that means equipping Dakota Wesleyan students through internships, mentoring, and creative partnering in the classroom, or equipping members of the Mitchell community to recognize and live into the call that God has in their lives. I feel we have an incredible opportunity to pour into people to effect change in the name and love of Jesus for the transformation of the world. Photo: The praise band and worshippers at fusion UMC on October 2, 2016.
Fusion UMC Website here.
Fusion UMC sermon videos here.