Ohio Church Refuses to Embrace Partisan Politics—and Shrinks

By Bobby Ross, Jr.
marysville ohio church
The Marysville Church of Christ in central Ohio has struggled to increase its flock, much less match its community’s growth. (Photo: Bobby Ross Jr. / The Christian Chronicle)

This one-time farm town of Marysville, Ohio, about 30 miles northwest of Columbus, is booming.

The century-old Marysville Church of Christ is not.

Even before the pandemic, the congregation in central Ohio struggled to increase its flock, much less match the area’s rapid growth.

The past few years only exacerbated the numerical concerns as the congregation — like many churches in the area — grappled with COVID-19 restrictions, George Floyd’s murder and the nation’s political polarization.

“It’s not just the debates that are going on and the differences in opinion,” said Madison Darby, 27, a freelance editor whose husband, Bishop, serves as associate minister. “It’s the emotional tension that seems to be really big in the country as a whole.”

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Minister and elder Jeff Darby, Madison’s father-in-law, feels that tension, too, in this Republican-leaning city of 26,000. Nearly two-thirds of voters supported former President Donald Trump in 2016 and again in 2020.

Jeff Darby

“It makes it tough. It really does,” the 50-year-old preacher said of staying focused on kingdom matters. “We really strive not to engage in political things, especially something that is clearly not a Scriptural issue.”

He’d rather focus on his congregation’s mission field — the thousands of new homes and apartments that keep replacing Marysville’s soybean and corn cropland.

“We are seeing astronomical growth,” the Lipscomb University graduate said of the residential construction. “Literally within two miles of our church building is some of the fastest-growing population in the state of Ohio.”

‘Fields are white for harvest’

Marysville is the seat of Union County, Ohio’s second fastest-growing county. 

Major employers include a Honda assembly plant and the headquarters of the lawn-and-garden company Scotts Miracle-Gro.

As farmers and factory workers gather for Sunday worship, Darby likes to step down from the pulpit and stand by the tall windows that frame the red-brick church building. 

The former middle school biology teacher, who spent over a decade as the Buckeyes for Christ campus minister at Ohio State University, emphasizes the soul-winning opportunities just outside the sunlit glass.

“The fields are white for harvest,” Darby told merepeating Jesus’ words in John 4:35. “It’s very much a common theme for us.”

church ohio
Flowers bloom outside the Marysville Church of Christ building in central Ohio. (Photo: Bobby Ross Jr / The Christian Chronicle)

But amid the turmoil over societal issues, the church has lost more members than it has gained.

Before the pandemic, weekly attendance averaged about 200. Since then, that count has fallen to about 140 — a 30 percent drop.

“We had a little swell right before COVID where we were really rocking it,” said Darby, who has preached in Marysville since 2013. “Then COVID came and really rocked us, like it did a lot of churches.”

Divided by politics

Darby blames the post-COVID decline on a variety of factors.

For one, the church’s handling of the pandemic — which arrived in the U.S. in early 2020 — impressed some members as “cowardly and unfaithful.”

They did not like that the elders moved services online via Zoom — and then outdoors with social distancing at the Union County fairgrounds.

By the time the congregation resumed normal assemblies, some disgruntled members had found new church homes.

“In the midst of all of this, we had a new idol come out, and I call it political idolatry,” said Melissa Cottrill, 55, whose husband, Scott, serves as one of the church’s five elders. “You had people taking a political view and making that religion . . . They’ll have to give an account to God.”

Equally disruptive, Darby — an adoptive father of three African American children — organized a video dialogue with Black preachers after Floyd was killed in Minneapolis police custody on May 25, 2020.

A half-dozen families left the church as a result.

“I would say, ‘Help me understand why you’re upset about this. Have I done something wrong? Is there something Scripturally wrong?’” Darby said. “And it really just came down to the fact that they were angry that it was brought up . . . I don’t know how many times I heard, ‘Well, I never owned slaves.’”

Like its surrounding community, the Marysville church is predominantly White.

“Marysville seems to me to be a fairly traditional small rural town in Ohio,” said John Green, director emeritus of the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron. “But that area around it is becoming more urban in that it’s part of this growing Columbus metropolitan area.”

Easiest way to grow

As member Jillian Bryant sees it, the easiest way for the Marysville church to grow would be to embrace partisan politics.

bryant ohio church
Jillian Bryant

The 35-year-old mother of three likes to listen to Christian podcasts. An idea from a recent one resonated with her: “The quickest way to shrink a church is to stay in the faithful middle with Jesus.”

“I was like, ‘Oh, my word,’” Bryant said.

She still remembers a sermon series Jeff Darby preached at the fairgrounds pavilion in the fall of 2020.

“Basically, I had goosebumps,” she said. “He said, ‘Hey, whoever wins the election doesn’t matter. Jesus is our king. We are ambassadors here on Earth. And our kingdom is heaven.’”

As the YMCA of Central Ohio’s senior vice president for housing and healthy living, Sue Darby — the Marysville preacher’s wife — helps provide places for the homeless to live.

In her view, COVID-19 exposed “the glaring misstep of aligning Christianity with political action.”

“We were so politically driven during COVID — masks, no masks,” Sue Darby said. “Jesus did not come on this earth to die for any kind of earthly kingdom. … And I think COVID really showed that to the churches.”

Member Sarah Showalter, 25, works in agriculture, teaching dairy farmers how to better manage livestock using technology.

The church can’t say “God is love” and then take sides on politics, said Showalter, the niece of elder Maurice Eastridge.

“If we pick a side, if we say, ‘Hey, gun control, this is what we want,’ then the people who don’t believe that . . . we are isolating them,” Showalter said.

What is — and is not — Scriptural

Avoiding politics in the church is not as simple as it might sound.

As Jeff Darby readily acknowledges, “There’s always going to be a disagreement about what is and what is not clearly a Scriptural issue.”

In the case of racial strife after Floyd’s death, he said, “We were very intentional about crafting statements that proposed understanding, reconciliation, forgiveness, compassion, empathy . . . We always made statements that were supportive of the best principles of both sides.”

ohio church
Elder Josh Fairchild reads a Bible verse during a Sunday morning meeting with the Marysville Church of Christ’s leaders. (Photo: Bobby Ross Jr / The Christian Chronicle)

After the U.S. Supreme Court recently overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide, church leaders did not applaud or condemn the ruling.

“Instead,” Sue Darby said, “the elders were like, ‘OK, that decision was made by the world — by the government. What is the most loving thing we can do right now? What does that mean? Well, that means there’s going to be hundreds of thousands of kids going into the foster system. We’re going to need to do adoption. We’re going to need to help women.’”

Throughout the recent difficulties, the elders have tried to demonstrate unity despite differences, Jeff Darby said.

“I think that’s a big part of what we’ve been seeing God do in our church family,” he said. “Those who have remained are not homogenous . . . Those who have remained are willing to take the lead of the leadership to say, ‘We’re going to be family.’”

The way forward

After years of upheaval, Scott Cottrill, a 56-year-old business consultant, is ready to focus on the future.

While smaller in number, the members who stayed represent a dedicated core, the church elder said.

“We’re friendly. We’re warm. We’re connected,” he said. “And I feel like there is a very strong relationship and base there. The question is, how do we grow from that base?”

Elder Josh Fairchild, a 49-year-old arborist, echoed Cottrill.

“A visitor never comes here without several people welcoming them,” Fairchild said. “It’s just, I still struggle with — I know numbers aren’t everything, but how do we get more in the church?”

ohio church darby
Associate minister Bishop Darby prepares to high-five Angie Saiter and her daughter, Maddie, as they arrive for worship at the Marysville Church of Christ in Ohio. (Photo: Bobby Ross Jr / Christian Chronicle)

From hosting an annual fall festival to organizing food trucks and activities in its parking lot, the church welcomes hundreds of neighbors via community outreach events.

Even though those efforts have not translated into church growth, the elders said they remain committed to sharing the Gospel.

The pandemic reinforced the need to consider less traditional methods, the leaders said, and be willing to engage uncomfortable topics, from women’s roles to gender identity questions.

“We’ll continue to press forward and be a light to this community to bring people to Christ,” said Eastridge, an animal nutrition professor at Ohio State. “How many in number? I don’t know. But we’re seeking, and I think that’s the key thing.”

Laurie Belville, a Marysville member for 27 years, prays the church will remain focused on God — and steer clear of partisanship.

“It goes back to not making it political,” the grandmother of six said. “Jesus paved that path clearly. He said it was about reaching out and serving and loving.”

This story was originally published by The Christian Chronicle.

Bobby Ross Jr. is a columnist for Religion Unplugged and editor-in-chief of The Christian Chronicle. A former religion writer for The Associated Press and The Oklahoman, Ross has reported from all 50 states and 15 nations. He has covered religion since 1999.



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61 thoughts on “Ohio Church Refuses to Embrace Partisan Politics—and Shrinks”

  1. Rabindranath Ramcharan

    Pretty sure that expecting people to become followers of Jesus by pressuring Congress to make incremental changes in the tax code is not going to be as effective as some people think.

  2. This is a good article and I like that the author interviewed many members and leaders. Perhaps more interviews with those members who have left would have been helpful.

    Sadly, one quote is perplexing and disappointing, “ After the U.S. Supreme Court recently overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide, church leaders did not applaud or condemn the ruling.”

    The failure to thank God for this blessing is astounding. No wonder people have left the church, if this is their “neutral” approach to public issues. Do they support crisis pregnancy centers, or is that also too political?

    1. Just imagine all those churches turning up their music while the Jews went by in the trains. At least they didn’t get too “political”.

      1. No, to the contrary their problem was that they were “political”. Whose side were they taking by turning up the music? Jesus’? What about Jesus’ words in Luke 10:25-37 and Matthew 7:12, 25:35-45?

    2. Robert,
      I wonder whose side they took when the dying fetus was not able to be aborted thus endangering life due to imposing government religion on a humans??

      Your deciding to be God represents the purest form of idolatry.

      When did Christ call us to take the sword of the state to engage in oppression – as opposed to call people to Him – and surrender their lives accordingly??

      Answer: NEVER

      Sadly, you comment belies that answer.

      1. Interesting response, Greg. I certainly agree with the church avoiding partisan politics.

        Psalm 120
        2 I said, “O Lord, rescue me from those who lie with their lips and those who deceive with their tongue.
        3 How will he severely punish you, you deceptive talker?
        4 Here’s how! With the sharp arrows of warriors, with arrowheads forged over the hot coals.

        Proverbs 12
        22 The LORD abhors a person who lies, but those who deal truthfully are his delight.

        Revelation of John 21
        8 But to the cowards, unbelievers, detestable persons, murderers, the sexually immoral, and those who practice magic spells, idol worshipers, and all those who lie, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur. That is the second death.”

        Verses from the NET Bible

        Any political leader or parties that supports lying, will never get my vote!—or the ones that lie the least. The Bible is perfectly clear how God feels about iiars!

      2. Rabindranath Ramcharan

        “when the dying fetus was not able to be aborted”
        An extraordinary phrase. Did the fetus want to be aborted, only to die anyway?

      3. I am not aware of any jurisdiction would not allow true and proper medical termination of a baby that is not viable and as such threatens the survival of the mother. This is not the abortion of convenience that is the curse of the modern world, it is an act of proper medical care.

        1. Actually, Daisy, there are quite a few states (TX, TN, and IN come to mind) that have such strong restrictions that medical termination of a baby (to treat a septic uterus, for example) would NOT be covered. That has been one of the major reasons for concern with these new laws. I am a person who is concerned, and it’s been difficult to discuss in Christian circles because once the word “abortion” is used, I’m labeled as in support baby killing.
          We have lost the ability to consider and discuss nuance.

    3. As culture becomes more evil, it sounds like this church wants to follow the middle of the road philosophy. Not thanking God for the Supreme Court ruling regarding abortion after all the prayer and work many Christians have done is sad. I have attended a Church of Christ affiliated church and they avoid much of the problems of the world to remain neutral. In my small town, you would hardly know that they exist except for their small church building…

      1. But… abortion on demand continues in many places despite the change in Supreme Court ruling (a purely political effort/solution btw) – overturning that ruling didn’t ‘outlaw’ abortion… and more importantly, all the machinations around it never addressed hearts & minds. In fact it’s becoming pretty clear after its felling, that most Americans still want the choice, ie after all these years of ‘prayer and work’ most hearts & minds haven’t changed… And so in my opinion, most of that ‘prayer and work’ is worthless, because it didn’t address the roots… Someday many of you will be surprised at what God/saints/angels thought of that ruling and the POLITICAL obsession to overturn it…
        So this church is right in not celebrating something that’s basically an idol for many Christians… and a great big exercise in missing the point. Praise God for churches like this one who seem to have better pro-life priorities.

        1. Julie had a good article not too long about churches and politics and I think many should go back and read it.

          Good points, Andrew!

          Opinion: Contrary To Popular Perception, Most Preachers Avoid Politics — Here’s Why


  3. The whole tenor of this article is that the Marysville Church wanted to (was trying to) stay away from politics. Then in the middle of the article we read the following: “Equally disruptive, Darby — an adoptive father of three African American children — organized a video dialogue with Black preachers after Floyd was killed in Minneapolis police custody on May 25, 2020.” How was that not deeply involved in politics? Say the incident with Floyd was terrible, it never should have happened, let’s pray for that city, etc., but have a video dialogue with Black preachers? How could the moderator keep that apolitical?

    1. I am interested in how this took place. As churches tend to still be among the most segregated communities (that’s a whole other thread), if their church is predominantly white, I think it would be GOOD to have a dialogue with Black preachers. Non-political topics could include hearing from the Black preachers how their congregations are feeling, discussing how we can bridge gaps between segregated communities and churches, and how to be unified in prayer and service during this time.
      I just don’t think it would be very wise to ignore the impact Floyd’s murder was having across the world, NOR do I think it would be wise to have a conversation with few to no Black voices involved.

      1. Agreed with Marin’s comment. Please forgive me, Mr Jankowski, I’m not understanding how involving Black preachers is inherently political? My church invited Ukrainian students to speak about the invasion at an evening event and I don’t think anyone saw that as political. In a White church it is helpful to learn what our brothers and sisters of color are dealing with.

  4. Revelation 3: 15 & 16

    “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Originator of God’s creation. I know your deeds; you are neither cold nor hot. How I wish you were one or the other! So because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to vomit you out of My mouth!…”

    The Church absolutely has to take a stand on issues that directly impact the morality of this country. We are to be a light on a hill, a beacon of truth and hope.

    TRUTH is never racist or political or irrelevant. It is truth. It stands regardless of the winds of change and corruption and accusations. Truth stands.

  5. When I saw your headline in the subject line of my email alert, I wondered what it was in the mind of the church that linked partisan politics with psychiatrists – I still haven’t found the answer to that question.

  6. This congregation has chosen to make our Lord Jesus Christ the center of their congregational life. Kudos to them. Sadly, way too many congregations have embraced the idol of politics. There are a lot of so-called evangelicals who have chosen Trump over Christ. That is the choice, isn’t it. And you have to choose. To me, it is not a hard choice. I’ll choose Christ over Trump 24/7!

    1. “There are a lot of so-called evangelicals who have chosen Trump over Christ. That is the choice, isn’t it.”

      No, Bob. That is most definitely NOT the choice. The choice is whether to follow the world or to follow Christ. Christians I know have supported Trump’s policies, not his personality. His policies resulted in a more secure border, higher wages, higher employment rates for all minority groups, no war for four years, energy independence, and the easing of rules so that organ donors could avoid red tape.

      It has always been about Trump’s personality flaws for many. For me, I look at results.

      Jesus did, too. Read his parable about the two sons and you will get what I mean.

      — Matthew 21:28-32

      1. Cynthia –

        Your response to Bob was more about Trump – defending his politics and justifying support for him – than Christ. That proves Bob’s point.

        Scripture also says out of overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. I have seen Christians get more fired up about Trump – poised to defend him and downplay his sinful behavior with phrases like “the end justifies the means” (which is what you were saying when talking about focusing on results) – than proselytizing for Christ. That does raise questions about our REAL priorities as the church. Is it to defend Trump or win others to Christ?

        1. Marin:

          Please, we have been through this before. You need to read very, very carefully before posting comments that indicate you did not understand what I wrote at all. Read the story Jesus gave to illustrate my point. We are flawed human beings, each and every one of us. God always uses imperfect people to reach the lost. He always uses imperfect people to accomplish his goals. Nobody is defending Trump – I was stating support for his policies.

          1. Cynthia –
            You said, “It has always been about Trump’s personality flaws for many. For me, I look at results.”
            So you overlook the personality flaws to focus on the policies. That is the end (his policies/results) justifying the means (his behavior/flaws). Your words, not mine. Little interpretation here. If you don’t like what you said, don’t put that on me.

            And those SAME scriptural beliefs about us being flawed, and God using imperfect people – apply to ALL of us – including Democrats and progressives. But somehow, Christians don’t apply them when Biden, Obama or Clinton come up.
            Interesting, huh?

          2. Cynthia,
            The story Jesus told in Matthew 21 is about the necessity of repentance. It hardly justifies a person (Donald Trump) who said he has never asked for forgiveness. When has Donald Trump repented of his adulterous and profane lifestyle? The Scripture you’ve referenced does not support your conclusion.

          3. Marin:

            “It has always been about Trump’s personality flaws for many. For me, I look at results.”

            I am fully aware of Trump’s personality. It has not been overlooked by me. How did you reach that conclusion? I simply stated I look at results. This does not mean “the ends justify the means.”

            Here’s a question for you: In terms of President Trump’s achievements (secure border, Abraham Accords, Conservative Supreme Court Justices, record employment for minorities, etc.) what means to those policy ends concern you, Marin?

        2. Now we’re onto politics…Sure Trump was just an ordinary feller with flaws; but look at loopy Joe: coverups, illegal and undemocratic use of the FBI, denial of due process to a bunch of protesters who did far less than the Antifa thugs….not a word.
          But, the church is not the forum for politics. We meet as brethren, we meet to make disciples, don’t we?

          1. In terms of President Trump’s achievements, what means to those policy ends concern you, Marin?

            I can try to answer in 300 words (but have more to say on all): I have issues with the namecalling of Mexican immigrants (Trump saying those that come over are rapists, drug dealers and criminals; we have Mexican brothers and sisters in Christ who have immigrated here, and they deserve to have us stand up against such racist labeling). As a native Texan, I know what is going on at our border is WAY more complex and needs more than a wall. We are spending money that won’t be as effective as we think rather than investing in a multilayered immigration solution. “Abraham accord” involved being an ally to Netanyahu, completely overlooking his horrific human rights violations. “Record employment for minorities” is actually record UNDERemployment for minorities. This should NOT be celebrated but addressed; then again, this is from a guy who calls us “the” Blacks or “my” African Americans like we are objects to be owned. There was hypocrisy around SCJ appointments – saying they shouldn’t be done in an election year and refusing to abide by Constitutional due process in 2016, then rushing one through in 2020; I have an issue with similar hypocrisy regarding anger with Biden saying he will appoint a Black woman (claiming “all candidates should get a chance), but saying NOTHING – or even cheering – when both Trump and Reagan said they will specifically appoint a woman (“all candidates” didn’t matter then?).

            And when you say NOTHING about Trump’s personality – but have plenty to say in defense of him – that is literally glossing it over and overlooking it.

      2. If we’re going to analyze the results of Trump’s presidency, we need to include the Jan. 6 insurrection and the extreme polarizing of America. We also need to consider the damage done to the reputation of Christ by evangelicals embracing and excusing a man whose life made a mockery of the gospel.

        1. but you applaud biden, right? we don’t live in a theocracy. every president who ever served was flawed and rarely are they faithful christians. the way to judge a presidency is by looking at the policies the he enacted and promoted. in that regard trump was one of the best presidents we’ve had. in contrast to the current president who is a lawless thug trump was amazing. finally, there was no “insurrection” — that is completely absurd. we had some lawless rioters that entered the capital but certainly not an insurrection. if that was an insurrection it’s the first unarmed insurrection is world history. the only person killed was one one of the rioters, who was murdered for no reason.

          1. Wes, January 6 was an insurrection.

            Definitions from Oxford Languages


            a violent uprising against an authority or government.

          2. “the way to judge a presidency is by looking at the policies he enacted and promoted”
            This is unBiblical. We see kings and leaders throughout scripture judged – and even killed – by God due to disobedience. David’s affair with Bathsheba had nothing to do with “policies”, but was blatant sin, which is offensive to God – and he was judged! God didn’t say, “Well David enacted good ordinances, so I’ll let that Bathsheba thing slide.”
            This is also inconsistent and hypocritical. When Clinton had an affair, conservatives were singing a tune about character. Where did that go?

            “the only person killed was one one of the rioters, who was murdered for no reason”
            Again, this woman was trying to breach the Capitol after being repeatedly warned by Capitol police to stop. Her death was tragic yet avoidable.
            Just as we lament “they should’ve complied” when Black men are shot, it’s the same here: she should’ve complied.

        2. “Insurrection”? O please. How many guns did these insurrectionists carry? Who did they kill? I do know that one “insurrectionist”, an unarmed women was shot and killed by the police. For those pushing this insurrectionist narrative you have the administration you desired. One that advocates for abortion on demand, the LGBTQ lifestyle, de-funding police and letting criminals out of prison, pro Palestinian/Iran, open borders. The list goes on. If you say you are not for these things I have news for you. The choices were door #1 or door #2. You don’t get to vote for some other administration you wish you could have. I see those on this site being critical of Trump. What do these people think of the Biden corruption? Crickets. Is Trump my first choice , no but I will take his policies any day of the week over anyone the other side has to offer.

          1. Bill –
            I think you mean “the lawless woman who was trying to illegally enter the Capitol after repeated warnings to stop by a police officer” was shot. Tragic and avoidable.
            The same people who say “you should have complied” to Black men who are shot need to say the SAME thing here: she should have complied.

          2. Bill:

            Spot on. It was not an insurrection. An insurrection requires weapons and massive violence. An example of an insurrection is the March on Rome that occurred in 1922. This resulted in Benito Mussolino coming to power in Italy and the Fascist takeover. Facts are so critical! So is an understanding of history and the actual meaning of words.

        3. Julie:

          Trump’s personal sin is between him and God.

          “Evangelicals embracing and excusing a man whose life made a mockery of the gospel” has nothing to do with me. I am speaking for myself, my own thoughts, my own ideas. I am not “embracing and excusing” his personal sins. I am embracing his policies.

          Did King David make a mockery of God when he committed adultery with Bathsheba and killed her husband? Did Paul damage the reputation of Christ when he stood by as Stephen was stoned? Do you think Dr. Martin Luther King honored God by committing adultery on multiple occasions? God uses imperfect people to accomplish good things every single day of the week.

          On polarization, are you saying that issues like abortion, crime, open borders, school choice, and white supremacy should NOT be polarizing?

          For all I know, Donald Trump may be the worst person God ever created, but I still agree with his policies. I guess you, if you’d had the opportunity, would have shunned Trump to demonstrate your Christian virtue.

          (And, please, look up the word “insurrection.”)

          1. Cynthia –

            You said: “On polarization, are you saying that issues like abortion, crime, open borders, school choice, and white supremacy should NOT be polarizing?”

            Not all the time. Many of these issues have nuance (e.g., treating a septic uterus is an “abortion” and the states who have taken extreme measures to make even this treatment illegal are endangering women), and are both multilayered and multifaceted (e.g., crime, poverty, and unemployment are interrelated; our immigration policies are flawed and inconsistently applied; school choice exacerbates inadequate funding, resources, and education; “white supremacy” is generational and now often lazily applied to everything). We should be able to discuss without throwing out “thought stoppers” in the form of labels and overgeneralizations (“if you hate Trump, you love Biden!”, “You like Trump, you’re a racist!” or “You aren’t happy about the overturn of Roe, you’re a babykiller!” are examples) that mislabel arguments and oversimplify solutions.
            This type of thinking does more to depeen divisions than move us towards solutions.

        4. Julie,
          Trump is a sinner – like us all.
          Do you think JFK or Bill Clinton were any better as humans?
          I watched a documentary that showed Lyndon Johnson had a much worse personal moral life than Trump ….. he just hid it extremely well.
          Trump’s Abraham Accords were perhaps the greatest leap toward Middle East peace in history – which came from his heart …… Do you really think that he had that much to gain, politically, from that??
          Jan6 was not “insurrection” …….. it was simply a riot ……. If it were “insurrection”, there would have been hundreds of guns and other weapons used – At the very least…
          You need to seriously study the actual facts and re-think the your positions.

          1. Jim –
            Would you have called it an insurrection if it were BLM protesters storming the Capitol after a Trump win?
            I think we both know the answer to that.

            What happened on Jan 6 was NOT ok and we need stop diminishing the reputation of the church by trying to make it so (because “our people” did the storming).

        5. Meredith Nienhuis

          Julie – the polarization of America happened long before Trump. May I suggest that Obama’s support for gay marriage led to the Supreme Court endorsing the same and greatly added to polarization. Also, one should look at Obama’s and Biden’s visits to countries in Africa promoting both the abortion beast and same-sex relations and marriage, And directly and adversely leading to the persecution unto death of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
          Many of us would say there is a spiritual war in process in America and around the world, not simple polarization.

      3. “For me, I look at results. Jesus did, too.”

        Results, you say?

        Matthew 7: “22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

        Clearly Jesus is looking at more than “results”.

          1. I’m sure Lea can answer for herself, but how I see it:
            Given you said you look at results – and Christ looks at more than results – and we are to be like Christ – doesn’t that mean you should look at more than results?

          2. Marin, Apparently Cynthia agrees with us that what she calls “results” may in fact be works of lawlessness. ;)

            We must make sure we are on God’s side, rather than claiming that he is on ours.
            I appreciate your comments here.

          3. Regarding “looking at results”…

            Either Lewis or Chesterton said (I think it was Chesterton) that in The Unseen Realm, it was the Dark Powers who had the reputation for “getting things done”.

            In Magick and Sorcery, it is the Dark Powers who deliver the results. And in order to get their attention, the Sorcerer must make himself like them.

        1. Marin and Lea:

          President Trump’s words, such as “very bad hombres,” may have hurt your feelings or offended your sensibilities, but his border policies indisputably saved lives. Again, I would recommend both of you read Jesus’s parable about the two sons in Matthew.

          1. Cynthia

            All you are doing is proving our point by dismissing, downplaying, and justifying bad behavior (and Trump said FAR worse than “very bad hombres,” using profane language I cannot and would not post on a Christian site) because you like his policies. You’re trying to make Trump’s sin cute. It wasn’t.
            Again, to you, the end (policies) justifies means (using profane and offensive language). As long as you get the policies you like, you don’t care what sins are committed to get it done.
            I stand with Lea – that is NOT of Christ. We can go to scripture: for example, with David, God STILL dealt with his sins and made it clear they were NOT ok. God never took your attitude of “well yeah, maybe killing Uriah hurt his wife’s feelings, but David is after my own heart!”

          2. Marin:

            You have consistently misinterpreted or misunderstood my words. Let me be clear: Unforgiven sin is never cute. The wages of sin is death.

            Judging Trump’s sin is up to God. Judging his political policies is up to me.

          3. Cynthia –

            You said: Judging Trump’s sin is up to God.
            Trump is a professing Christian (as of his 2016 campaign), and scripture DOES call us as Christians to judge those who are professing to be fellow disciples yet committing sin. This is for the protection of the reputation of the gospel.
            And you’re right – sin isn’t cute. And sin does more than “hurt feelings” (as you tried to downplay with Trump’s words). It breaks God’s heart – and SHOULD break ours. Even if we like his policies.

  7. I applaud the church for trying to keep politics out but not thanking and publicly praising God for the
    reversing of Roe vs Wade is going a little to far. People have worked, prayed and sacrificed to make it happen and I am sure children’s lives have been spared. Their plans to help women and children are excellent though. No problem with reaching out to black pastors for their input, actually good but but timing is important. Maybe feelings were too raw but where is the love and understanding with your brother and sisters. Unless there is unrepentant heresy or such, you should stay and work it out and grow together., that’s life. I think the people that left missed an opportunity to grow spiritually.

  8. This story, along with the one I read last year about a SE Michigan church that went from a struggling 200 attendees to vibrant congregation of 2000 in six months due to the pastors firey response to Covid protections, makes me believe that way too many people are going to church for the wrong reasons.

  9. The problem as I see it is that many people cannot seem to separate moral values from politics.
    The Bible is clear: feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned and also don’t kill or steal or cheat. There are hundreds of value statements and imperatives in the New Testament.

    I don’t think church leaders should say this or that political party is better at obeying these imperatives. Let individuals come to their own conclusions. And members shouldn’t bring their politics into the body—all political parties are of the world, even when they do good things.

    If abortion is murder as many Christians believe, then when a law changes finding abortion illegal it should be celebrated, especially in the church. Or celebrate when people speak up re: the sin of racism. But leaders shouldn’t say, “Thanks to such and such political party.” Leave that up to individuals to determine for themselves. But by all means teach Christian imperatives and celebrate when obedience to those imperatives are obeyed.

    1. “…when a law changes finding abortion illegal…” – but a law didn’t change… only a court ruling did… and that overturning ruling didn’t make abortion illegal… So this church did the right thing in not celebrating the idolatrous and often misinformed ‘chasing of a bus’ by american christians wanting an idol to serve instead of doing the mission God was actually calling them to do all these years… Praise the Lord for these leaders who have the Spirit-filled wisdom to refrain from the herd of american christian grandstanders patting themselves on the back for a supposed ‘mission accomplished’…

  10. Pandering to the government’s lockdown is far more political then ignoring them. If you close a church you get exactly what you asked for: an empty church. I am not surprised arrogant pastors who judge others beliefs as political but their own as purely spiritual are losing congregants. It sounds more like people left because the church was too political, funny none of them were asked why they left. I agree with keeping politics out of church and my church does, but not by spiritualizing Democrat talking points. The pride and lack of self-awareness is astounding and the church will probably sink as long as they keep pointing the blame elsewhere.

  11. After reading through the article and all the comments so far, it appears to me that the local Marysville church lost congregants not because they avoided politics but rather because they fully embraced leftist political ideology, instead of maintaining a Biblical world view. I know people who have left the church and I know people who are still there. How ironic that the title of the article is the opposite of reality. If you remove two words from the title it will accurately describe what happened, “Ohio Church Embraces Partisan Politics and Shrinks”. Shutting down during the pandemic was a huge mistake and the very last thing a Church needed to do. During times of crisis believers need more Church, not less. The world changes, yet God and His word NEVER change. The local Church should teach the Bible and leave politics out of it. As believers, our home is not of this world, we are simply passing through, sharing Christ and His forgiveness on our very brief journey. Blessings.

    1. My wife and I left Marysville Church of Christ after 30 years. So very difficult for us to leave. This is our family that we love without reservation. The far left videos (still posted), such as, “I can’t breathe “, Ministers calling us out as “white privileged “ and one youth minister video telling our congregation that it’s okay to break the law if you’re doing it for God. Our church building was shut down during Covid, we asked to meet in the parking lot temporarily so we could at least be together, that didn’t happen. Mask mandated and our Thursday school preschool halted. We met with the Elders to try and get clarification and reconciliation on the issues listed with no accountability from them. When I pressed our Assoc. minister for accountability, I was asked by an Elder to apologize and I did. Christian Chronicle never asked us for our input on this article, nor any others who left. I emailed them and never received response. We love all of our church family however, we will not forego our Christian conservative biblical stance for the sake of left political guidance through ministry. We didn’t leave the Marysville Church of Christ, they (leadership), “left” us.

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