Pioneering New Legacies through Church Planting

United is equipping church planters to extend the legacy of the Church through innovative ministry. On Sunday, September 17, 2017, United alumni/ae from the class of 2014 started two new churches in the West Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church.

Joe and Alyssa Graves, church planters at Central City Church, Columbus, OH

Joe and Allyssa Graves | Central City Church

Joe and Allyssa Graves met and fell in love while earning their Master of Divinity degrees at United Theological Seminary. Since graduating in 2014, they’ve been on a God-sized adventure, launching a new faith community called Central City Church in Columbus, OH.

Central City Church is “a neighborhood church with a citywide impact.” Through the church plant, Joe and Allyssa are cultivating a community that values meaningful relationships with one another, with God and with the surrounding community.

As a couple, their call to serve the lost grew until they could no longer put it off. They wanted to start something new, where people far from God could learn about the amazing life available to them through relationship with Jesus.

“If we can see people’s lives transformed through this ministry, we will be filled with joy,” Joe and Allyssa explained. “Whether it’s a young professional who learns the joy of generosity or a drug addict who finds healing and recovery, we pray with all humility that God would use this strange new community to make a real difference in people’s lives.”

United helped prepare them for their call through the focus on theological formation and the power of the Holy Spirit. They learned how to read and interpret scripture from a place of grace and authority. Rev. Dr. Mike Slaughter’s class on the missional church and Rev. Sue Nilson Kibbey’s class on leading change honed their skills for working with and leading people. When they graduated, they were ready.

Joe sums it up, saying, “We hope our legacy will be one of effective, life-changing discipleship. That’s what we love about church planting — it’s all about reaching and discipling new people.”


Rosario Picardo, Mosaic Church in Beavercreek, Ohio

Rosario Picardo | Mosaic Church

Unchurched? Dechurched? Disinterested? Disengaged? You are welcome at Mosaic Church at The Greene in Beavercreek, OH.

Rev. Dr. Rosario Picardo ’14 and co-planter Rev. Wayne Botkin have a passion for reaching those who aren’t already connected with a church and/or don’t know the love of Jesus Christ.

“New churches have proven to be one of the most effective ways to be evangelistic,” Rosario explained. “Buildings, programs and institutions will fade away, but a legacy is left through lives that have been impacted and changed.”

That’s what keeps Rosario going in his calling to plant new faith communities.

Rosario continues to draw on the practical education he experienced in the Doctor of Ministry program at United. As a student, he wrestled with how to do ministry in today’s changing world. He gained a deeper understanding of the landscape of Christianity in North America and also learned to think critically about his own faith and approach to ministry.

It’s not easy, but Rosario isn’t content with playing it safe or doing ministry as usual. He wants to leave a legacy of taking risks for Jesus in all he does.

As a number of churches are predicted to close in the coming years, Rosario sees church planting as vitally important for the legacy of faith — so much so that he’s started equipping other church planters (see below).

“I want people to be excited about their faith and know they can make an impact in this world,” he shares. “I want people to know that they have the Holy Spirit available to them to pursue their God-dreams, and it’s not just reserved for a few people but all who call upon the name of Jesus.”

Church planter or not, that is a legacy we all should strive to leave.


Are you called to be a church planter?
United is equipping future church planters through a Certificate in Church Planting, available to laity and clergy for continuing education, a concentration in Church Planting that can be added to a Master of Divinity or Master of Arts in Christian Ministries and our “ROOTED: Church Planting and Revitalization in our Diverse World” Doctor of Ministry Focus Group.

Added bonus: Rev. Dr. Rosario Picardo teaches these courses on Church Planting. Learn from his experience planting Mosaic Church, plus the previous churches he has planted and revitalized.

Start your degree or certificate at United today by contacting admissions@united.edu or 800.322.5817.

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