Dear Central, 

In 1904, Central’s founding was a step out in faith. A response to the need to for a community church on the west side of Athens, Central was a prayer for the future. The men and women who made our church possible were committed to moving FORWARD. 

Today we step out again, prayerfully moving into the next season of our life together. The FORWARD initiative represents God’s hope for our church, community, & world. We’re asking God to provide $680,000 through the glad and generous giving of our Central Community in order to (click on any of them to learn more):

  • Transform facilities to better serve our community, particularly our children; 
  • Reach into our community with resources freed up by reducing or eliminating debt; 
  • Teach the next generation of church leaders; and
  • Plant a new local church, much like Central was planted more than 100 years ago.

Why commit to these goals? Because we’re serious about advancing the Kingdom of God into this world. We’re willing to walk by faith, take risks, and sacrifice ourselves to be a vital and transforming presence for Jesus in Athens and the wider world. 

I invite you all to take the next step on this journey through the FORWARD initiative. This is an act of discipleship and an investment in Central’s future. It honors our spiritual ancestors, who did the same for us. 

As we prayerfully consider our individual commitments to this initiative, I also pray that it grows your relationship with God and our congregation’s desire for discipleship. The steps we’re taking go beyond our normal ministry and will have a lasting impact on the body of believers, the local community and the wider world. 

Together we’ll keep Central moving, FORWARD. After all, that’s what Central has always been about. 

In Christ,


Listen to Paul's Introduction to the Forward Campaign from Sunday October 2nd.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
— Matthew 28:19-20

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Five years ago, Central stepped out in faith and bought an old auto garage on Carpenter Street. That garage is now the Venue. We’ve renovated apartments, studio space, and the gathering space. Next, we’ll upgrade the roofing; complete additional renovations to the gathering space (adding women’s restrooms and storage); and – perhaps most excitingly – create a children’s area on the lower level. This will increase our capacity to partner with families in their children’s faith development. It will allow us to renovate the lower-level to include: a large multi-purpose gathering space, two classrooms, two bathrooms with showers, and a small kitchenette. At the Westside location, we’ll freshen up the stairwell, basement hallways, and children’s space, and will replace the sanctuary’s heating and cooling system. 

These kids are thinking and they’re really growing. As silly as a craft may be like cutting out doves or putting little rocks on pieces of paper, these little things, God’s using them to grow these kids. ... You can never under- estimate what God can use. If God can use a silly game to grow people and to bring kids closer to Him, then that’s how he’s going to do it. And I’m just blessed enough to see it.
— Joshua Bryant


We purchased the Venue in 2010 for $330,000. We raised $380,000 to purchase and renovate the building, and borrowed an additional $430,000 to complete the work. The building’s current value greatly exceeds our original investment. Our remaining debt is $275,000. Eliminating this debt will remove the pressure of a mortgage and generate income, freeing us to invest in ministry that reaches into our local community and beyond. This also gives us the option of renting our apartments for the academic year only – opening them up in the summer for our ministry interns and creating a unique environment for learning and community. 

Through the activities of the campaign we will be uniting as a community to focus on broad initiatives designed to increase our capacity to minister to others. Completing the initiatives are important, but so is the byproduct; being a community that sets its sights on the lost, goes out, and ministers to them, over and over and over.
— Barry Oches, Central’s Director of Administration


Central has long raised up and strengthened leaders for ministry. Dozens have gone out from our congregation into full-time ministry. We’ve trained interns, hosted conferences, and mentored leaders. Additional nancial support will sustain our Summer Institute and will provide college students exploring ministry, current pastors, and others interested in this kind of learning environment, the chance to gather for 10-12 weeks for training and support. Central will be a training ground for future leaders in ministry and will provide the opportunity to do more than just “go to church.” We will continue to birth a future generation of church leaders. 

Central Avenue took a chance on me. I was not pastor material when I walked through those doors for the first time. In fact, I was kind of of a wreck.... I don’t know where I would be without Central Avenue, but I know for certain it would not be in service to God, the UM Church, and this Westwood congregation. For this experience at Central changed my life forever, and I will forever be grateful.
— David Lyell, Pastor at Westwood United Methodist Church


In partnership with the West Ohio Conference, Central is starting a new local church in the Grandview area in Columbus, Ohio. Under the leadership of Joe and Allyssa Graves, this congregation will take the best parts of Central’s DNA and core values in order to reach the city for Jesus Christ. We will send a core team consisting of Central alumni, family, and friends to start this new church. The goal is that, after five years, it will be a self-sustaining congregation. 

You can learn more about this new church, Central City Church, and how to get involved by visiting the website:

Jesus instills in us the exact gifts and abilities we need to better glorify him and build the Church... When we invited Jesus into our lives, he came in with power. As such, we can also do a whole lot more than we could even imagine on our own.
— Andrea Fogt

How can I help?

Continue to pray. As we continue our faith journey, pray and ask God to help you decide how you can contribute to the FORWARD initiative’s $680,000 goal.

Use the FORWARD prayer resources, such as the prayer journal, and the FORWARD pennant decal. Pray that God will enable Central to continue its ministry in our community and trust God to guide us as we begin this journey together. Then, believe God will guide Central FORWARD.

Make your faith investment The FORWARD steering committee encourages you to make your faith investment for an amount to be given either as a one-time gift or given regularly over the next three years. Trust that God will enable you to fulfill your commitment.

Learn about FORWARD and spread the word. Throughout October, you hear about our FORWARD initiatives in Sunday worship, in small group bible studies, and in Sunday School, as well as through a prayer walk and other special events. You can listen to the podcasts here

What do I do next?

Give thanks to God for all He has blessed you with. Thank Him for the blessing of Central to us and to our community. 

Pray, “Father, what do you want to do through me?” Transition from asking, “How much of my money should I give to God?” to “How much of God’s money should I return to Him during the FORWARD initiative?” 

Ask for His blessing on every area of the FORWARD initiative. 

Fill out a commitment card—we are asking each Central family to prayerfully consider making a sacrificial gift, over and above your regular giving, over a three-year period. 

Turn in your commitment card to the Central Offices.

Three ways to give

• Make a three-year giving commitment. The chart on the next page can be helpful in determining how consistent giving results in a greater gift than you thought possible.

 • Give an initial gift in November. November represents the first month of our three-year giving program. You might ask God for creative ways to increase your gift, such as deferring a major purchase or a tax refund. Involve your entire family in giving a specific amount. 

• The Bible often mentions in-kind giving of assets. So, in addition to your three-year commitment, you can give stocks, securities, or other assets. Contact Barry Oches at the church office if you need assistance ( or 740-592-2389).

My Potential Giving

A little consistency builds into a sizeable amount. Each of us can give far more than we think possible by giving it over a three-year period. Here are some examples of the impact you could make:

Questions and Answers

What is the financial goal of the initiative?

The goal for FORWARD is to generate at least $680,000 in support of our four initiatives.


What is the schedule for FORWARD?

Month of October - Church-wide stewardship Bible studies (a four-week look at stewardship in the Bible-all ages)

Sunday, October 16th - Prayer Walk (designed for participation by every age group in the church)

Sunday, October 23rd -Pacesetter Dessert (designed for everyone who wants to make an early commitment)

Sunday, November 6th -Major Event Commitment Sunday (commitment cards returned by all households)

Sunday, November 20th - First Fruits Sunday (three years of Initiative giving begins)


How can I find out more?

Talk with FORWARD Executive Director Barry Oches or email him