Overflow Ministries opens its doors

PHOTO BY JACOB GURNEY Pastor Byron Denman (middle) speaks with Madison Jackson and Brock Hodson during an open house at Overflow Ministries, 126 S. Washington St., Sunday afternoon.

Overflow Ministries hosted an open house in its new location at 126 S. Washington St. Sunday.

Pastor Byron Denman said the focus of Overflow Ministries is to give university students and young adults a place where they can be a part of an active faith community and have an active leadership role.

“It is to prepare them with leadership for their professions and their spiritual life,” he said.

Byron said his wife Christy is from Arcadia, but he grew up as an Army brat and traveled a lot growing up. After serving in the active-duty Army for 10 years, he came to the area about 4 1/2 years ago to go to seminary at Winebrenner Theological Seminary in Findlay. There he helped with campus ministries. After that, he took a job at Hopewell First Church of God so he could become involved in this project, he said.

“I was involved with ministry for years and years. This is the first project quite like this,” he said. “This is a larger undertaking. This is really the first one we poured our whole family into to try and make this work and I am very blessed to have the loving support of my wife and my kids as we’ve gone down this road.”

Christy said she is “really excited” for the new location because she feels it is rare to find a safe place with no strings attached. She said anyone can come there for snacks or food or just to unwind.

“I really want people to know we are here and available for people to use wifi, or get a snack. You don’t have to go to church and we don’t want money,” Christy said. “Anyone is welcome. We just want it to be a retreat and a safe place for people to go.”

She said Overflow Ministries should have a positive impact on the community.

“I think the long-term effects will be giving people a support system so they don’t turn to alcohol or drugs and where they have someone to talk to,” Christy said. “I think it will benefit society by creating healthier young adults.”

Byron said it has been pretty hard work for about two months, but the space was in pretty decent shape when they took it over. He said they moved in the third week of June and renovations took a few months.

Byron said the new location includes a social area for students to take a break and unwind, a worship area capable of seating 63 people, counter space for food, a small prayer room, a main dining space, a couple of offices and a bible study room. There is also a small library with books for students to take and keep, bring back, or exchange with their own. The area includes a pantry of donated goods for students, Byron said.

He said there are a couple things they want to do with the upper floor, but that is a longer-term goal.

While they are independent and not a school-sponsored group, the ministries have working relationships with the universities, Byron said. He said they have been active with the student bodies for the past year and a half since it began in 2015 with a small meeting.

Byron said they were borrowing space from Grace Outrageous Ministry, but they “fortunately outgrew the space” and needed to find something else, which is why they moved.

Last year they were averaging around 27 students at their Saturday night worship service and 40 to 45 students participating in various bible studies throughout the week, Byron said.

Madison Jackson, a Tiffin University student from the Akron/Canton area, said growing up she didn’t have a place like Overflow to go to and from the first service to now, it has grown a lot.

She said she has been involved with the ministry during its first year and said it is a space to reach out to Tiffin University and Heidelberg University students and where, regardless of background, they can connect on one main level which is the love of God and Jesus. Overflow is so much more than just learning about God and who He is though, Jackson said.

“I’ve laughed and cried. I’ve met a lot of friends here,” she said. “Having a good group of people who care for one another is hard to find. While it’s focus is teaching about God, it is so much more than that.”

Jackson said Overflow is a place where everyone is welcome.

“It doesn’t matter if you know any background about God or know a lot or if you have no knowledge or a lot of knowledge,” she said. “The idea is just to love one another in a way that goes beyond boundaries.”

Brock Hodson, a Heidelberg University student from Springfield, said Overflow is like a “saving grace.”

“I found people who believe in what I believe in and I have a place I can go Saturday night where we can get together and worship,” he said.

Sarah Cummings, a Tiffin University student from Fenton, Michigan, said it is “a really cool thing” to have something to do on a Saturday night.

“Most things going on Saturday night are not the best,” she said. “It’s nice to be around people who share what you believe and where you can connect with friends. That is the best part, is that it is a place to come together.”

Byron said Overflow Ministries is an outreach of Hopewell First Church of God and its denomination is The Churches of God General Conference.

“I think it is amazing that there is a ministry for college students that can help grow and shape leaders,” said Jean Weaver, a member of Hopewell First Church of God/

Byron said they are in partnership with Family of Faith Lutheran Church, Journey Church, Faith United Methodist and Calvary Chapel.

“Those are the churches that have all come together in partnership because we see the need for a college ministry and we see the need to kind of make these connections, but we realize that this is something that the whole body of Christ needs to be investing its time and energy in. So, here we go,” he said.

Byron said he really appreciates the opportunity to serve the people of Tiffin and to try and help college students form deeper connections with one another and the community.

“To give people a place to support their faith growth and that sort of thing, they have a reason to stick around and that can feed back into the community leading to sustained growth and maintaining a younger demographic here in town,” he said. “When you build a family, you stick around for family.”

Byron said Overflow Ministries is to have open hours 4-9 p.m. Monday through Thursday where students are able to come in and connect with wifi, get coffee and just disconnect from college campus. The open hours are to provide a safe space to study or gather together if they want to do that, he said.

Byron said there are to be four to five regularly scheduled bible studies throughout the week with times to be announced and the next regularly scheduled worship service is 8 p.m. Aug. 25.


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