ReNew baptizes five disciples

Posted on April 17, 2017

ReNew UMC, a new church start in Kenmare, North Dakota, had four baptisms and one reaffirmation on Easter Sunday, witnessed by 108 who were in attendance. “People are seeing ReNew as a safe place to come. This is a place where they are not judged by anyone. There is a sense that everyone is a valuable child of God,” said Pastor Joddy Meidinger, ReNew UMC.

Photo by Annette Rockeman. Three children and two adults were part of the celebration of baptism at Kenmare ReNew UMC on Easter Sunday.

Three children and one adult were among the baptized. One adult reaffirmed their baptism.  A family with her two children, who had stepped away from church for a while, became connected with church again through ReNew.  “The couple had stepped away from church, they had some unpleasant experiences. The family connected with ReNew and asked to have their two children baptized,” said Meidinger.

A high school senior started attending a small group bible study. Her family did not attend a ReNew church. Through the conversations with others at ReNew she connected. Meidinger described the connection and caring the young girl experienced. “Something was stirring inside of her. She came to me and asked to be baptized.”

Photo by Annette Rockeman. Kasey Mogren, a high school senior, is baptized by two members of the Kenmare ReNew UMC leadership team—known as the Dream Team.

ReNew has developed a sense of belonging and a safe place to get to know God and your neighbor through community outreach and small groups. “We kind of got a reputation as a church that does things,” said Meidinger.

ReNew UMC offers an afterschool program a few nights each week. The program is for elementary through middle school students and is run entirely by volunteers. The hope is to expand the afterschool program through partnership with the community in the next year, and to meet daily with a paid coordinator.

Women gather for craft activity or other creative endeavors. Members throughout the community meet at various times throughout the year at the church to enjoy learning something new and for fellowship.

Several small groups meet regularly including a women’s Bible study group on the Old Testament. Through Christianity 101—a basic understanding of what it means to be a disciple for those who have a limited church background—this group has become a safe place for people who don’t attend church.

Photo—One of the children that was baptized at Kenmare ReNew UMC helps baptize her little brother.

“There’s a reason we are called ReNew.” Meidinger stated. “We want to be the place where people come to ReNew their connection with each other and God.”

Meidinger shared the example of a young couple with a child, somewhat new to Kenmare, who came to a ReNew event a while back. The family had lots of questions about ReNew.

“They came to the event, but I never saw them again. I kept intermittent contact through Facebook and congratulated them on the birth of their second child. One day I received a Faceook message from the mother asking if I do weddings. 'Yes,' I replied, 'but only after a few counseling visits,'” said Meidinger.

The next Sunday, the couple attended worship and brought all their children, including the grown son and his wife—two families, each with children. After a few visits, everyone agreed to move forward with the wedding. This would be the second marriage for both.

The couple has moved far from home and do not have family in the Kenmare area. ReNew UMC has stepped up and is going to be their family. Meidinger said, “As a congregation, we are going to have the wedding DURING the service on April 30, with a celebratory meal to follow. That is what our name is all about.”

The new church start and the pastor have faced challenges. The church home is a storefront on Main Street that needed extensive remodeling. The first floor is completely remodeled, with a finishing touch still needed here and there. The second floor is still in need of major remodeling that needs to start with a new fire escape.

Photo by Annette Rockeman. Pastor Joddy Meidinger prays with the children after the children's sermon during worship on Easter Sunday.

The church remodeling is on hold for now. Sam Meidinger, son of Pastor Joddy, is undergoing treatment in Minneapolis for Aplastic Anemia. “The main focus now is to get our son home,” said Meidinger. “We have some work to do on our home as we had water in the basement this winter and we need to remove the mold and mildew. It needs to be done before Sam comes home.”

ReNew UMC is experiencing new life as a church and making disciples on the edge of the Bakken Oil Rush.  Kenmare, a community of 2,000, welcomes the leadership and efforts of Meidinger and other members of the congregation in the Development Corporation and Association of Commerce.  The hope is to build sustainability as a vital church and member of the community.