In the late spring of 2000 Jesus saved a hard-partying, un-churched college student named Aaron Kuhnert. By late fall of that same year Aaron had come to the terrifying realization that Jesus was asking him to give up his future career as a pilot and become a pastor. Four years after staggering into Vine Community Church in Carbondale Illinois as a hung-over skeptic, Aaron was walking into work as a Staff Pastor.
Aaron and his wife Courtney first visited Athens in October of 2010 while trying to discern what college town Jesus might be calling them to plant a church. Compared to all the other towns they had visited, Athens felt the most like home. It reminded them a lot of Carbondale, except with twice the number of bars and half the churches. They felt a love for the people of Athens and a deep desire that Jesus would send more churches there.
In December of 2010 it was announced that Aaron and Courtney would be leaving Vine to plant a new church in Athens, Ohio. The response and support was overwhelming. By February of 2011 Jesus had called a team of 28 people who were willing to transfer schools, give up their careers, move away from their friends and families, and risk everything to start Brookfield Church.
The church plant team moved to Athens at the end of June 2011. Over the summer the church met together as a small group in Aaron and Courtney's home. By the start of the school year in the fall the church had added 10 new people and multiplied that small group three times.
Brookfield began public Sunday church services on September 11th at the Athena Cinema in uptown Athens. A rush of people came right from the start, some were hungry for a local church to call home, others were curious and wanted to see what kind of a church would meet in an old movie theater uptown.
By late summer of 2012, our small portable church got a more permanent home! In the spring of that year it felt like God was leading Brookfield to lease and remodel the 6000 sq. ft. of vacant retail space on Court Street below the church offices. But how would it even be possible for such a small, new church to afford it? The church, which was roughly 6 months old, was mostly college students with no money.
By God's grace, Brookfield again rose up to the challenge and risked with faith. The church gave sacrificially in order that people whom they had never met could come in and hear about Jesus. What felt like a miracle actually happened. We had just enough to remodel the new space. This allowed the church to have room for the new people that Jesus was bringing and to make monumental improvements to the Brookfield Kid's Church and Brookfield Youth.
As for the rest of our story, it has surely been written…we just haven’t lived it out yet.
So why are we called Brookfield?
“I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground.” Isaiah 44:3
Our name is a subtle reminder of the promise of God and the mission of the church to restore what has been ruined, to rebuild what has been rejected. The hope of Athens is that Jesus will turn this desert into a garden; that he will make this barren land a fertile field.
Also see Isaiah 35:6-7, 44:17-20, 43:18-21, 61:3b-7, and a great many others.