We are a community of college students and postgraduates who are pursuing God and being transformed by His love for us. We all come from different backgrounds and we each have a unique story to tell. Some of us have a strong faith foundation and some of us are exploring God for the first time in college. What unites us is our shared passion to know the God who created us, rescued us, and transforms us in Jesus Christ.
Back in 2008, we were 20 people with one dream: to plant a church in a college town for college students and young adults. Some of us had prayed for years about starting a new church, and some of us had just graduated college and were looking for an adventure. We visited Kent a handful of times and were struck each time by the need for a gospel centered church on campus. We sensed God leading us to move here, so with the blessing of our previous church, H2O BGSU, we were sent out to plant H2O Kent.
God has grown our church over the years, not just in numbers, but in character and maturity. What was once something we could only imagine has now become a reality. We were—and still are—just ordinary people compelled by the need for Jesus at Kent State. God met us here and used us to plant a church that has impacted the lives of hundreds of young people. We are blown away by the power and goodness of God.
Our story continues. We dream of planting dozens of churches out of Kent, sending out teams of people to go to new cities and new campuses in need of Jesus. We believe young men and women who are now students at Kent State will join us—some as staff members and most as graduates with a heart for the gospel—in planting new churches in places we trust God will make known to us.
“What’s the story behind your name?” That is a question we get a lot. No, we are not a church of chemistry students. Our name is actually rooted in a story from the Gospel of John, a scene from the life of Jesus. And it captures perfectly what we are all about at H2O.
A woman went to a well to get water. She was doing something ordinary, something she had probably done a thousand times before. But while she was there, she met Jesus. She didn’t know at first that He was God. But during their conversation it became clear that Jesus was not just an ordinary man.
Jesus told her the things she pursued to find life were empty and would leave her more broken. Then, while she filled a jug with water, he offered her something that would quench her deeper thirst. He called it living water and he was talking about himself. He told her that what she needed most was to be transformed by the God who knew her every struggle. And that’s exactly what happened as she embraced Jesus by that well. Her life was radically changed and she couldn’t wait to tell her family and friends.
You are doing something ordinary. Going to college. Writing papers. Making friends. Changing your major. What if, just like that woman at the well two thousand years ago, Jesus wants to change your life? We are all looking for life, purpose, and belonging. And we look in lots of places to find these things. But in the end it’s only Jesus, the One who made us, who can give us exactly what we are looking for.
We love Jesus and we love college students. We think college is the best time to learn what it means to follow Jesus with all our hearts. It’s the place where we grow up. We decide what matters most in life. We choose a career and maybe even a spouse. We set the trajectory of our lives here.
We believe it’s a time when Jesus wants us to know He is real, that He is more than a familiar story or a religious routine. He is the God of the Universe who made us and knows everything about us. Our passions and our fears. Our joy and our brokenness. Our past and our future. And He does not leave us where we are, but makes us new. He breathes new life into us and we are forever changed.
At H2O, we are not interested in playing church. We want to know this God who came and rescued us in Jesus Christ, and we want to join Him in His mission to redeem the whole world. Together we bring our doubts and our dreams, and we pursue Jesus with everything we have.
Planting churches on college campuses is an ambitious mission, and we humbly recognize our need to be supported in this work. Here are some of our partners that make our ministry possible.
Reliant Mission. Reliant Mission is a missionary sending agency that employs each staff member of H2O Church. Reliant partners with missional churches and gospel-centered nonprofits to mobilize support-based missionaries for the Great Commission. Each staff member is supported by the generosity of individuals who give to Reliant Mission on their behalf. Through the work at Reliant Mission, we are given the opportunity to do this work full-time.
The Collegiate Church Network. The Collegiate Church Network is our primary ecclesial affiliation. We adhere to Collegiate’s doctrinal statement and governance guidelines, receive coaching from network leaders, and enjoy close relationships with the staff of other Collegiate churches. There are currently 15 network churches on or around major universities throughout the United States. H2O Church is glad to be partnered with a larger network of churches with a vision for planting churches on campuses and reaching young people with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
H2O Network. Within the Collegiate Church Network, the H2O Network functions as a network of churches that share a common name and geographic proximity. Currently, the H2O Network is a collection of seven churches, six of which have been planted since 2008. Each church has a unique expression based on the culture of its campus, yet we share a common ministry practice and a commitment to planting collegiate churches in and around the state of Ohio.
North American Mission Board. We are privileged to be partnered with the North American Mission Board in its commitment to supporting collegiate church planting in the United States. Our partnership with NAMB brings us into relationship with other collegiate churches outside our own network, allowing us to learn from others engaged in this unique work of planting churches for college students. NAMB also helps provide our staff with ongoing training and resources to equip us in our work.
Emerge Counseling. While our staff are experienced in supporting and counseling young people, we recognize that there are situations and circumstances that require professional counseling. For this reason we created a partnership with Emerge, a Christ-centered professional mental health agency located in Akron. Our partnership allows Kent State students to receive regular or occasional counseling at significantly reduced costs and without the burden of traveling to the main counseling center. Counselors will arrange times to meet with students in private rooms on the campus of Kent State. If you are interested in seeing an Emerge counselor or have questions about counseling, please contact our staff liaison Eric Asp.
Our team is a quirky group, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. We love leading a collegiate church together. When it comes down to it, we believe that college students have incredible potential. That is why we take it as a great privilege to lead this community. While we are on the same team, we are rather different, too. Take a look below to see for yourself!