Redeemer Orthodox Presbyterian Church’s first pastor, Lawrence Eyres, opined that working in a transient Air Force community was “no way to start a church.” But by God’s grace, the Lord has been faithful to gather and strengthen this congregation in the Miami Valley. Redeemer Church traces its roots back to the fall of 1967, when Dayton residents Mr. and Mrs. J. Elmer Baird asked the OPC Committee on Home Missions to start a Reformed work here. Formerly an elder in the mainline Presbyterian church, Mr. Baird withdrew when the denomination adopted the Confession of 1967 (a document that effectively undermined the authority of the PCUSA’s doctrinal standards).
Pastor Eyres remained in Dayton until 1982, when he received a call from an OP church in South Dakota. In September 1982, Michael F. Frangipane, already a ruling elder of Redeemer Church, received a call to become the church’s pastor.
In 1986, the church bought five acres along Indian Ripple Road in Beavercreek. It took two more years before enough funds were available to begin building. In November 1988, the congregation’s first “real” church building was dedicated.
By 1996, the congregation was thriving enough to prompt thoughts of a second OP church in the Dayton area. The church issued a call to Rev. Charles Jackson, formerly a Cedarville University student who had attended Redeemer, to serve as pastor of the Dayton-North home mission work. Six volunteer families from Redeemer joined him in Vandalia to start what in 2001 became Covenant Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
Pastor Frangipane retired from the ministry at Redeemer Church in February 2005 after 22 years of service. Five months later, Pastor Robert Y. Eckardt was called to be the church’s new pastor and installed by the Presbytery of Ohio.
In June 2009, the congregation moved just down the road to the former Mt. Zion Church property at 22 S. Fairfield Road. Within a year, the congregation also sold its former building to Agape Chinese Evangelical Church.
In June 2008, Ken Montgomery moved his family across the country from California to serve a year-long pastoral internship at Redeemer. Shortly after moving into the new building, the congregation voted to retain Mr. Montgomery as associate pastor following the completion of his internship.
In several ways that the world might call coincidental, Redeemer Church has come full circle.
Redeemer Church’s first elders in 1971 were J. Roy Smith and William Shaw. Mr. Shaw later moved to Columbus, where he helped to start Grace OPC, whose first pastor was Robert Y. Eckardt, the same man who now occupies Redeemer’s pulpit. Mr. Shaw’s son John became an OPC pastor and served a summer internship at Redeemer before completing seminary, serving in a pastorate, and now serving as the OPC’s General Secretary of Home Missions.
Redeemer Church has met in six different facilities over the years. Numerous families, including church officers, have come and gone, sometimes returning through Dayton more than once due to job transfers. By God’s grace, the church has survived these changes and grown to become a much larger but close-knit community of believers.
As Pastor Eyres noted in a 2001 article in New Horizons, the OPC’s denominational magazine, Redeemer at least indirectly assisted in the planting of four additional congregations. Besides Covenant OPC in Vandalia, Redeemer also helped to start the Columbus church, where Mr. Eyres preached before Pastor Eckardt was called, and the Columbus church later went on to start OPCs in Pickerington and Mansfield, Ohio. Also since then, Covenant Church in Vandalia has planted Living Water OPC in Springfield, and is considering others. Redeemer has helped and supported Good Shepherd OPC in Cincinnati, and it is now renewing its ministry after a group was received from the PCA.
So you could say that through Redeemer’s “children and grandchildren” churches we have seen a small group multiply to a whole group of churches in central and southern Ohio. Who’d have thought all this would come from one struggling little flock?
Since Redeemer’s move to our current location, the Lord has blessed us with numerical growth to doubling in attendance, giving, and leadership. We have seen a new generation arise, with many younger families joining or being formed through a multitude of weddings, and then new children. We have seen new visitors arrive and be enfolded into the community of believers. The Lord has blessed us with ministries to the elderly and to internationals.
In God’s providence, Pastor Ken Montgomery and his family moved to take a church call in Marietta, Georgia, in November of 2016. We prayerfully await how the Lord may add to our new leadership in the coming years for the Glory of God.
[Revised November, 2016]