New nontraditional church offers feeling of community

April Samuelson

Elizabeth Eisaman was just looking for a church that would meet at a good time for her.

“A couple of my friends were going there and it was in the evenings,” Eisaman said. “Honestly, we all really liked it, so we continued to go.”

For Jacob Ley, it was a solution to an on-going problem.

“I’ve been looking for a church in Kent for a while now, and I found that a lot of churches weren’t looking for me,” Ley said. “Catalyst has a vision of Jesus and a vision of community.”

Catalyst Church has been meeting in Pastor Jonathan Herron’s living room for several months. The church officially moves to a building at 1541 South Water St. this Sunday. Catalyst’s 6 p.m. opening will feature music screens, art and a live band.

“It’s sort of like when you’re pregnant nine months,” Herron said. “We are giving birth to a church.”

Catalyst is a nondenominational church, but it is affiliated with larger religious organizations Act 29 and the Grace Brethren North American Missions.

“We just voluntarily connected with them because we knew we needed coaching, accountability and resourcing.” Herron said.

To be affiliated with Act 29, Herron said he went through a six-month process involving a series of interviews about his ministry experience, background checks and a one-week boot camp in Florida.

Herron said community involvement will be Catalyst’s major focus.” If you want to go to church and sit to check it off your to-do list, then Catalyst is not for you,” Herron said. “If you want something going outside of walls and into the community, then it is for you.”

Ley, a junior communication studies major, said he thinks this sense of community will help bring students to the church.

“I think the big thing Catalyst has to offer is community, and I think that’s what our generation is looking for,” he said.

Herron said the church started by renovating the 100-year old building it will be using. Church members are now looking for new ways to help out the community.

“The next step is reaching out into southeast neighborhood in Kent, which has traditionally been low income,” Herron said. “We’re going out and seeing what we can help, whether it be a single mother needing her house fixed up or helping children out by tutoring.”

Herron is also focusing on a campaign called “Don’t Go to Church.” Herron said with this campaign he wants to show the history behind scripture, specifically the Gospel of Luke.

“Even if you’re not into religion or spirituality, you still get a really good history lesson,” he said. “I want to communicate the eternal truth in a 21st-century way.”

Eisaman, a junior political science major, said she hopes Catalyst will help people get back in touch with their faith.

“I honestly think this is a church for people who have given up on church,” she said. “I hope that students come and check it out. We want to get to know them as people and, in turn, have personal relationships with Jesus Christ.”

It’s not a traditional service, Herron said.

“It’s not aimed toward church hoppers,” he said. “We want people who have a hangover Sunday morning to come to church Sunday night.”

For more information about the Catalyst Church see

Contact religion reporter April Samuelson at [email protected].