Our Story

Johnston River of life was constituted on April 1, 2018

July 2010

Outreach begins in Johnston

In July of 2010 pastor Craig Ferguson was appointed to New Hope UMC with the focus of building relationships and starting a faith community in Johnston. During the first six months there was a lot of relationship building: in home meetings, connecting with local businesses and community leaders.

During the next year several small group Bible studies began to meet in homes to grow deeper in faith and to pray for the community. As we prayerfully sought God the roots of our mission statement began to take shape. We knew that we were being called to be community-focused and not building-bound. 

With that in mind, we began to look for places we could gather for worship that would support the community and give us a way to integrate into the life of individuals and families. It was not long before we started holding Saturday night service at Beaver Creek Elementary School.

Worship and Community Connections blossom

2012 – 2018

In 2012 we began worshipping at Beaver Creek Elementary. This time frame was filled with a lot of creativity and diversity. We held worship services outside on the playground, in the gym, cafeteria, and classrooms, we even held Christmas Services at the Johnston Barn. We utilized different methods of video projection, music, and technology. A primary focus was always on flexibility and caring for one another as we built relationships.

Our focus on connecting with the community and engaging in missional service began to take shape several ways:

  • Pastor Craig was appointed by the City Council to serve as the chaplain for the police and fire departments.
  • We began to work together with Camp Dodge by serving meals for special holidays (Memorial Day, Purple Heart Day).
  • Leaders worked to raise awareness of the Johnston Partnership and worked with Childserve to care for the needs of clients.
  • Several individuals worked with the public library to teach ELL classes.
  • We established a regular presence at the farmers market as a way to connect with families, giving out snowcones to kids.
  • Established a missions team that served in places from locally with Habitat for Humanity to Oklahoma, Detroit, New Orleans, and Honduras.
  • We sent out several leaders to become pastors in other churches! (Before JROL was even chartered)
  • One of the things that everyone loved was holding regular gatherings in local parks and  meeting members of the community.

2018 – Present

Chartering and Covid Changes

After JROL officially chartered there was a flurry of excitement and ministry growth. Founding members were actively involved in ministry, programs, events, and community. We developed an administrative team and ministry groups to support our energetic new community of faith. We even began looking for a space where we could have regular weekday groups/gatherings.

Less than two years after chartering Covid-19 began to transform the world and played a major role in changing the life of faith communities. Because school policies changed, JROL was no longer able to meet at Beaver Creek. We were forced into the “wilderness” of being an online only church for over a year. In the spring of 2021 we knew that we needed to reconnect with each other face to face and get back to the relational community that we are. We prayerfully began to look for a place where we could hold regular worship and weekly gatherings.

In September, 2021 we decided to test out 6212 Merle Hay Rd. and proceeded to lease it from the owner. We are currently in process of purchasing the building and beginning to dream about remodelling and ways to utilize the space to best “be Christ in Community.”

Vision 2025

Into the Future

JROL does not have aspirations of being a mega-church or have a huge building. We won’t promise to have the best sound and light show. We simply want to be transparent and real with each other in this journey of life. We want to offer the humble presence of Christ in community. Some ways we hope to see our mission/vision realized are:

  • Be a space for diverse groups, education and connections
  • Continue to serve our community in every way possible
  • Offer open arms and hope to those who don’t feel welcome in other spaces
  • Raise up leaders and empower everyone to use their gifts for the glory of God
  • A place where everyone experiences faith that is fun and filled with laughter, support, encouragement, and life-long friendship.

We sincerely hope that you are a part of the future of JROL!