Pastor Chris McCreight has been at Hiram Christian Church for roughly a month now, although he’s no stranger to the Village. He and his wife, Jen, who is an Associate Professor at Hiram College, both graduated from the institution in 2003. The couple have lived in the Village since 2011, with their daughter, Linden. Returning to Hiram gave us a sense of coming home,” McCreight shared. “Working in the community and at the College is very rewarding and life giving,” he explained.
McCreight grew up in Tallmadge, attending Stow Christian Church and Hiram College with Pastor Chad Delaney at the Mantua Center Christian Church. McCreight earned his Master of Divinity degree at Emory University in 2006. Before serving at Hiram Christian Church, he served at Pilgrim Christian Church in Chardon. Today, he also serves as chaplain at Hiram College.
What attracted him to Hiram Christian other than the short commute — the church sits a few minute walk from his home — is the collaboration among the other Disciples churches in the area. That’s because the Hiram congregation works together with Mantua’s Hilltop and Mantua Center Christian churches on mission projects, youth programs, and generally share what McCreight contends, “good communication where each church lifts the other up.”
In Chardon, as his last position, he noted that while it was common for the area ministers to get together in support of common missions like the local food pantry or women’s shelter, the efforts didn’t filter down to the congregants of those churches. He noted the rarity of finding that unique community relationship, and that if collaboration of that sort hasn’t already begun, it takes a lot of effort to build it.
This month is the start of his first year at Hiram, and he plans to take time to familiarize himself with the church’s vision and how it operates. He shared that in a former position, he followed a minister who had been advised to make immediate changes. Those changes were not well-received, and as a result, neither the congregation or the previous pastor were pleased with the outcome. McCreight’s goal is to take time to get to know the hopes and visions of the congregation in order to determine how best to serve them.
The question of coming to Hiram originally surfaced when long-standing Hiram Christian Pastor Roger McKinney resigned several years ago. As is often the practice, an interim minister, Dr. Irvin Green, served the needs of the congregation while a search committee determined the church’s wishes moving forward. Dr. Green served for roughly two years, smoothing the road for a new Pastor. McCreight shared that the interim period allowed the congregation time to come to a “graceful, gracious conclusion” of McKinney’s tenure. He noted that by the time he came to Hiram, “issues that could have been an obstacle were not.” He’s happy to live in the community he serves. He’s looking forward to working together with Disciples congregations to serve the local community.
According to Mantua Center Pastor Chad Delaney, “Chris and I have been friends for a long time. We grew up together; today we read each other’s sermons and offer feedback and suggestions. He’s my friend, colleague, and brother in Christ.” Delaney continued, “we have a ‘board’ that includes representatives from all three churches. This group helps run the Xplor resident program, and is a mechanism to share joint ministry ideas and projects. We hope to work together more as we move forward.”
Sunday worship at Hiram Christian Church takes place at 11 am; all are welcome to attend.