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Only 5.5 percent of the population is affiliated with an evangelical church. Southern Baptists, despite six decades in the city, have only 42 churches in metropolitan Cleveland, which includes Cuyahoga, Lake and Geauga counties. That means there’s only one Southern Baptist church for every 42,500 Clevelanders.

The Weihrauchs moved to Cleveland in March of 2011. They met people in grocery stores, at story time in the local library (where Amy became a regular), and at ballgames and invited them to join their new church. After meeting with a core group for several months, they launched Gateway Heights in October of 2011. The new church had 52 adults in attendance for the first worship service—and has continued to grow since.

By design, the message at Gateway Heights is simple, straight forward—and Christ-centered.

“I want to engage culture like any church planter—particularly any 28-year-old church planter—but I’ve become increasingly aware that I’m just a man,” Weihrauch said. “I’m in Cleveland with weakness and fear and trembling, and I need a Spirit-anointed message.” OM

Tobin Perry is online editor of On Mission.


To find out more about Send North America: Cleveland and how you can partner with church planters like Weihrauch, visit


A Partnership Made in Heaven
By Ed Litton

I met Zach and Amy Weihrauch last year at the North American Mission Board’s Send North America luncheon in Phoenix. I sensed an immediate divine connection.

The Weihrauchs had already moved to Cleveland, Ohio, to plant a church with little support and lots of faith. When Zach and Amy talk about Cleveland, it’s like listening to an Alabama or Auburn fan talk of a national championship.

Upon returning to Mobile, my wife, Kathy, and I flew to Cleveland as soon as our schedules allowed. We saw firsthand what Zach and Amy saw—people in need of the gospel. We went back to our church, First Baptist North Mobile, and led them to dive into sponsoring Gateway Church of Cleveland Heights. Cleveland, Ohio, and Mobile, Ala., could not be two more different cities. One on the Gulf Coast, the other on the shores of the Great Lakes. One frozen, the other balmy. This relationship is a God-ordained encounter over a box lunch and it is producing far more than I could ever imagine. The Weihrauchs are now rock stars at North Mobile. Our people love them, pray for them, and cannot wait for the next mission trip to Cleveland.

This partnership is a two-way street. Zach has helped me rediscover a passion for planting and I’m gaining a fresh insight into the lostness of our nation—not just in Cleveland or New York, but in the Bible Belt where I live.

I have a hunch that helping Zach, Amy and the Gateway Church in Cleveland Heights will be a greater blessing to me, Kathy and North Mobile church than we could ever be to them. We are experiencing a renewed and refreshed vision for bringing people to Jesus, here, there and everywhere.

ON MISSION • Summer 2012 43

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