The Upper Room Season
In 2015, a small group of young adults began to meet in a basement every Wednesday night to pray for revival. Within a few months, the little prayer meeting doubled and then tripled in size and soon became known as the Upper Room. Over the next few years, we continued to gather weekly to pray but without pursuing additional vision. By the spring of 2017, the Upper Room no longer met weekly although we still gathered frequently for fellowship and community.
The Transition Season
In the summer of 2017, Steven and Crystal Fisher felt led to begin once again hosting a weekly prayer meeting for not only those who had been part of the original Upper Room meetings but also what they were seeing as a generation of young people who were hungry to encounter God! At that time a Core Team consisting of Steven and Crystal Fisher, Dave Smucker, and Arlin Riehl was established to bring leadership to the meetings. In the spring of 2018, God began to speak about a larger vision, and we sensed that He was calling us to press “pause” once again. With a team of 15-20 people, we began to ask what God truly desired of us as a community. It was during this time of searching that God began to release the vision for what we are now walking in.
In October of 2018, we launched Ministry Nights, which began as a monthly gathering focused on encountering the Lord and hosting His Presence. A few months later Life Groups were launched, these groups gathered bi-weekly in homes for the purpose of fellowship and connection. It was also during this time that God confirmed to us that he was giving us a new name- Branch Community. In May of 2019, we held the first-ever Branch Leadership Retreat with 25-30 leaders gathered in Dauphin County, PA. This was “an appointed time” for us as a community where God brought unity and clarity around the vision which then led us into a season of growth and impact. We were able to develop a collaborative relationship with Ridgeview Mennonite Church that summer and we started renting space from them, giving us the chance to expand into a dedicated area with an office, kitchen, and prayer room.
Planting A Church
It became clear to us in the summer of 2019 that God was leading us to establish Branch Community as a local church body. In the fall of 2019, we began to lay the groundwork for planting the church. We worked hard through the fall and winter to prepare for this significant step and God’s hand was upon the work. On March 15th, 2020, we launched Branch Community as a local church with 110 people in attendance. Enthusiasm was high as the Lord encountered our hearts that first Sunday night and we were bursting at the seams with gratitude, passion, and vision for so much more. It was that very week that the reality of Covid-19 hit and smashed our carefully laid plans! The months of April and May were filled with uncertainty and confusion as all of our regular rhythms of the gathering were disrupted. Yet in these very months, a new rhythm emerged- a rhythm of prayer. Every Thursday night we would gather as a tiny remnant of 5-10 people and cry out to God to intervene on behalf of our church, our community, and our nation. It was in this season that God began to restore our hope as he spoke about a season of greater things to come. Covid-19 became a season of divine pruning for Branch Community, as activity ceased above the surface, our roots went down deeper into His unchanging nature and character. We began to emerge again in June, meeting when and where we could and slowly regaining momentum. By the time August rolled around we were in another season of growth and increased impact with people being saved, healed, and baptized. God is so faithful to move in our midst and encounter hearts and lives with His power and love! We believe this God story had just begun as we contend for the fulness of His purpose across our region. There is more!!
Are you hungry for revival, awakening, and transformation? Then consider this an invitation to join us as we pursue the greater things. Worthy is the Lamb to receive the reward of his suffering!