Hope Community Church reflects on anniversary milestone

Published 9:38 am Tuesday, May 21, 2019

NILES — Twenty years ago, the congregants of Hope Community Church had their first gathering in the basement of a Niles home. Since then, the church has grown to more than 700 members and a permanent base, located at 2390 Lake St. in Niles.

This weekend, Hope Community Church celebrated this anniversary milestone with those humble roots in mind. Senior Pastor Bob Moss said the church hosted recognized the 20th anniversary during regular services. Congregants were invited to enjoy refreshments afterward and listen to video testimonials from people who shared what the church has meant to them.

“I’m looking forward to the stories,” Moss said. “We are always encouraged when we are reminded of lives we have changed through not only the work of the church but the message of the Gospel.”

Reflecting on the church reaching its 20th anniversary, Moss said he is most proud of its legacy to promote spiritual growth and help those in need.

Moss became Hope’s pastor 10 months ago, so he credits former Pastor Mike Smith, the church’s founding pastor, for initially spurring that legacy. Smith left his job so that he could prioritize his health issues, which stemmed from an injury in the Navy and heart problems.

Moss said the church has a history of giving back, which influenced him to become a pastor at Hope.

“I was drawn to the church’s outward focus,” Moss said.

The church is involved in the Feeding America program — a food truck that provides groceries to those in need. According to Moss’ records, more than 10,000 people have received groceries from the local truck in the past five years.

The church also partners with 18 other external ministries to provide an array of services to its community, Moss said.

People might also think of Hope Community Church during the holiday season when congregants help to host Cookie and Crafts for a Cure. The annual event helps to raise funds for local cancer-fighting agencies or services for patients, like Hope Grows and Livestrong program.

“We are here to serve the community and transform lives,” Moss said. “That’s the mission.”

Moss has 42 years of experience in ministry. He said he first found his passion for ministry in high school when an influential pastor encouraged him on that path. For 15 years, Moss served as the pastor for First Church in St. Joseph. His family resided in Stevensville during that time. In addition to his pastoral duties with Hope, Moss also works in the national denomination offices.

Moss said he and Smith became friends years ago. Moss served as a coach to Smith during his ordination process. Moss expressed pride in being able to serve where a fellow pastor and friend had served.

“It’s always a blessing when pastors follow one another,” Moss said. “It creates a sense of continuity in the church ministry.”

Moss said he sees a lot for Hope Community Church’s future. He said his vision is to bring “new fuel” to youth and children’s ministries and reach more young families. Helping to grow the congregation in general under new leadership is also a goal.

“We are in a time of what we call revitalization,” Moss said. “Whenever there is a pastoral transition, it can become a time of uncertainty. When a new pastor comes in, it’s kind of like regaining momentum, and that is the process we are in now.”

As Hope moves into another year with new goals on the horizon, Moss said he could sum up the significance of 20 years in one anecdote.

Since taking the job at Hope, Moss said he particularly enjoys showing off the location of his new gig to visiting pastors, friends and family. When they drive up to the church, Moss said the reaction is usually the same.

“When most people drive up to the church property with me, having never been up here before, I have one consistent word that I hear,” Moss said. “People say, ‘wow.’ To me, that ‘wow’ represents the great faith of the people who have created Hope as a church.”