Helping Forge New Life in Steel City
Dan and Stephanie Cudmore launched Steel City Church one year ago on October 4 in Lackawanna, New York, a town known as the hub of the steel manufacturing industry for most of the 20th century. Located just six miles south of Buffalo, New York’s second-largest city, Lackawanna spans less than seven square miles and has a population of about 18,000.
Embracing the city's blue collar history, the Cudmores’ desire is that the ministry of Steel City Church will be more about engaging the community outside its walls rather than just "having church." They started the church with a weekly Bible study in their home, and the pre-launch group soon grew and moved to an old Bingo hall.
Norm, a 72-year-old, was one of the first to come regularly to the home Bible study. He accepted Christ and was baptized in May 2015 even before the church launched in October. Norm came every Saturday to clean the Bingo hall for Sunday services and never missed a Thursday-night Life Group. He went to be with the Lord in September 2016.
Investing in outreach is a key component of Steel City Church. "We thank God for AGTrust and Church Multiplication Network for partnering with us in providing the Matching Funds,” Dan says, “and we are also grateful for the support of Pastor Chad Rieselman of Lumber City Church, our parent church in North Tonawanda, New York, which also began as a church plant.
“The Matching Funds helped us purchase and distribute outreach follow-up materials, including Bibles, postcards, coffee mugs, T-shirts, and more, which enabled the church to establish itself within the community,” Dan says. “Those funds also helped provide the audio and video equipment we needed.”
Steel City Church participates in prayer walks in the city, does strategic outreach events such as hot dog roasts to help them meet new people and make friends, and partners with the community for Fun Days in the Park.
"Our prayer and passion,” states Dan, “is that through Steel City Church, God will reach the unchurched and the done-churched — those that have never been exposed to the gospel and those that are out of the church, isolated, and not in relationship with a church family due to a Christless and hurtful experience."
Their outreach is working. Scott, an ex-marine, and his wife, walked into a service right off the street and immediately give their hearts to Christ. Scott once described himself as a "black soul" who didn't care for anybody and was without natural affection or love. However, immediately following the couple's baptism in water, Scott ran out into the snow-filled parking lot, yelling praises to God. The couple now leads the church’s host team ministry.
About 60-75 people are attending Steel City Church after one year, and five Life Groups meet weekly. “The focus of Steel City Church is to preach the gospel,” Dan says, “for it's the power of God that transforms lives.”