WESTVILLE – Renewed Strength Church is excited to celebrate its 26th anniversary.
It is a non-denominational church that was started in September of 1995 through God’s prompting in the heart of Mark Hackworth. The first few gatherings were in a member’s residence and consisted of three families: Mark and Jami Hackworth, Tim and Bev Risinger and Chris and Tina Livingston. It totaled 13 people. From there, the congregation moved to the chapel at Urbana University with an attendance of approximately 40 people. As the congregation grew, Renewed Strength moved to a building in Urbana, continuing to increase to approximately 95 people. The largest leap of faith came when they chose to purchase the old Westville school house.
When they went and looked at the property it was in the middle of winter. The locks were all frozen and they couldn’t get inside to see the building. They had to remove a board on the back of it to get inside. The building was condemned and was used as a pallet factory. There were icicles everywhere and the bell tower was collapsing into the building. It was quite a mess, but they all had confidence in Hackworth’s vision for the future.
They were able to do most of the work themselves and moved the congregation there in October of 1998 with an average attendance of 212. In 1999, the upstairs was remodeled to have additional classrooms, a reception hall and a kitchen. In June 2001, the basement and sanctuary were remodeled again including a balcony now allowing seating for 340 people. A new foyer, inside baptistery, carport in office were also included in the upgrade of 2001. In 2005, the church purchased the home east of the church and used it to house women coming out of jail. In 2007, they began a second Sunday morning worship service. In 2009, they made the decision to buy and obtain Life-Net Church in Urbana and hired original member Chris Livingston as the full-time pastor. Life-Net is also used as a local food pantry.
Renewed Strength Church currently meets on Sundays at 9 and 11 a.m. and Wednesdays at 7 p.m. at 4194 W. U.S. Route 36, Westville. They have ministry for children, youth, young adults, women, and men. They support missionaries all over the world and actively internationally travel and do mission work as a church. They actively reach out in jail ministry, local inner-city ministry, and run a care group for those struggling with mental health. Mark Hackworth also currently runs a men’s recovery house from his home for those coming out of jail that are aiming for a new start.
“Truly the Lord has blessed and established this church and we are grateful. We would like to honor the Lord for His faithfulness as well as Mark and Jami Hackworth for theirs …,” said Renewed Strength Church member Tricia Blanken.
Information from Tricia Blanken