The story of
Since the turn of the century, God has used MetroAlliance as a catalyst for creating authentic community relationships and opportunities for urban and suburban churches to work together in Cleveland, OH. With roots in the Ohio City, Detroit Shoreway, and Clark-Fulton neighborhoods of Cleveland’s near West Side, MetroAlliance is continuing to grow into new neighborhoods as God draws people to Himself! A summary of our collective story is below; individuals are encouraged to add their own voice to the story here.
MetroAlliance Church was born out of a united vision of the leadership of the Central District of the CMA and two church planting couples who sensed God leading them to make a difference in the inner city environment of near west Cleveland.
During the September, 1999 Bible Missionary Conference in Vermilion, Ohio, members of the Central District leadership together with pastors and elders from Central District churches were challenged by several messages given by Rev. Rock Dillaman, pastor of Allegheny Center Alliance Church in Pittsburgh. Rev. Dillaman is a pastor with a contagious passion for inner city ministry. As a result, the District leaders began to evaluate church planting efforts and decided to plant a new urban church in Cleveland.
In May 2000, Juri Ammari and his wife Karen moved to Cleveland and were asked by the Central District to spearhead the church planting effort. Focusing on authentic relationships and incarnational living, many people came to Christ in the Ohio City, Detroit Shoreway, and Warehouse District neighborhoods of Cleveland as a result of coffee shop chats, porch sitting with neighbors, and participating in many community events (and hosting many as well!). In November 2000, Jeff and Sue Rowe and two teen-age daughters joined the Ammari’s as part of the leadership, and in August 2001 seven people from Grace Church were commissioned to join the MetroAlliance team.
God blessed these early efforts and quickly multiplied regular Bible studies and Life Transformation Groups among teens and adults. The presence of MetroAlliance in the community also grew as we regularly gathered at the West Side YMCA for celebration services and participated in or hosted arts festivals, kids camps, sports activities, and practical living workshops.
To help facilitate what God was already doing, we were encouraged by the Central District of the C&MA to purchase a building on the corner of W. 45 and Bridge Ave. which we outgrew within two years before moving to two services each Sunday @ 9:07 am & at 11:07 a.m. The latter Worship Celebration offered nursery care, a preschool/toddler class, kids church for children K – 5, and separate classes for girls and boys ages 10+, all provided by screened and trained staff and volunteers.
By God’s grace we have also been able to that 45th St facility to host and incubate several church plants over the years, including Ebenezer Church, who used the buildings on Sunday afternoons from 2 – 6 pm to minister to the Ethiopian and Eritrean people of Cleveland. A Congolese church plant now also gathered later on Sunday evenings and in only 18 months grew to over 130 people.
Since 2005 God has also regularly been drawing people to Himself from the Clark-Fulton neighborhood of Cleveland and connecting them with MetroAlliance. After much prayer and patience, God opened the doors in 2013 to begin a new work in Clark-Fulton, called metroChurch.
To help facilitate this work, Seth Bisheimer and his wife Sara and their 4 children moved to Cleveland in early 2013 from the Akron area to serve with the MetroAlliance. Juri and Seth co-pastor MetroAlliance, along with the Governing Board and other ministry leaders, with Juri serving as the lead pastor of new church work and kingdom advancement (including metroChurch)and Seth serving as the lead pastor of the WestSide Alliance Church, north of Interstate 90, in the Ohio City and Detroit Shoreway neighborhoods.
In June of 2015, a representative of Building Hope in the City was approached by Jean Dunbar of the West Side United Church of Christ's Governing Council asking for pulpit supply who would only preach about Jesus and not about political agendas. Reaching out to Seth & Juri to meet with Jean, it was eventually agreed for Seth & Juri to provide pulpit supply and preach through the Gospel of John. During this year, most of the 12 WSUCC members either recommited their lives to Jesus or trusted Him for the first time. In the same window of time, the West Side UCC fellowship became an independent congregation named The Historic West Side Church of Cleveland, Ohio (WSCC). Later, the WSCC Council requested negotiations with the MetroAlliance Church Governing Board to merge with MetroAlliance to become the West Side Alliance Church.
Having merged with a 164 year old congregation and moved from 45th & Bridge to 38th & Bridge, the younger MetroAlliance Church sought intentional ways of communicating the legacy both the Historic West Side Church of Cleveland and the 140 year old Christian & Missionary Alliance. WSCC's German immigrant roots to its rich Evangelical & Reformed theology coupled with the urban roots and the Jesus Only legacy of the Christian & Missionary Alliance together bring a solid frame to the foundation of Christ Jesus upon which to build the local believer to love the lost He came to save.
Now it’s your turn! Add your voice to the story (or read someone else’s) here.