By Amanda Joerndt
The statement, “Forget Religion, Find God and Move Towards a New Possible,” is used to represent the Rust City Church. The church currently has three campuses, but a new addition was added to Youngstown State University for students to attend.
According to Brad Tarleton, campus pastor, the name of Rust City Church represents the historical aspects within Youngstown.
“One of the reasons that our name is Rust City is because we believe that God has placed us in this area to bring a new possible to the Rust Belt,” he said. “Youngstown is the heart of the Rust Belt, and YSU is the heart of Youngstown.”
Tarleton said Rust City Church was designed for people to feel welcome walking into a new church setting.
“We typically have put churches in places where they feel like they don’t belong, so that people who feel like they don’t belong in a traditional church can feel more comfortable to come,” he said.
Tarleton and some church members, mainly YSU students, started going dorm to dorm at the beginning of the semester passing out free Chick-fil-A sandwiches while informing students about the services that were going to be taking place called the Preview Experience.
This allowed them to promote the services while building new relationships with the student body.
With plans underway for a weekly service starting in fall 2019, the Preview Experience services for this semester will be held on the last Wednesday of every month at 8 p.m. in the auditorium of Debartolo Hall.
Tarleton said the laid-back atmosphere allows all students to feel invited to the service without feeling any pressure to fit in.
“Service is one hour long and includes worship, an opportunity to get prayer if you want it and a quick, but inspiring message,” he said. “It’s a chance for students to experience God, his love for them and the plan that he has for their lives.”
Tarleton said this is the first step for Rust City Church to build connections with the students and help them grow through their journey at YSU.
“Our heart is to continue to see more and more lives changed at YSU. When a student’s life changes, they are then able to help change the lives of others around them,” he said. “We hope that we can be a blessing and build a positive community on campus for years to come.”
Madison Landgraff, a sophmore exercise science major, has been a member of Rust City Church for almost two years.
Landgraff is the captain of the auditorium team and welcomes students as they walk through the doors, helping to ease any anxiety newcomers may have.
She said being a member of the Rust City Church helped her transition with being a student at YSU and hopes the services will help other students as well.
“As a student, you come to college and you’re looking for a lot of things, but you don’t realize where these things are going to come from and where to turn to when you need something,” she said. “The vibe of Rust City and the friendliness touched me in a different way then anything has before, and I hope it can do that for them, too.”
Debra Fabian, a senior integrated language arts education major, is a part of the auditorium team as well and said first Preview Experience was very successful.
“I was sitting towards the back of the auditorium, and I got to see the people in front of me experiencing it and that was really neat,” she said. “People were in tears because of how powerful and moving the message was.”
She said she hopes the Rust City YSU church campus will continue to grow over the years and hope more students will attend each semester.
“We want to help as many people connect with God as possible. There’s about 200 seats in the auditorium and we want to have all 200 seats filled,” she said. “We would love to have so many people wanting to be apart of it that we need to have more than one service.”