In the spring of 2005, returning from a second service trip to Gulfport MS helping with clean-up efforts just after hurricane Katrina, four couples began to ask themselves why their lives at home,  their daily experience of their faith, couldn’t be more like the experience of that trip. Couldn’t life be an ongoing mission?

Intentionally banding with others to share a common vision of mutual commitment to God, to one another, and of service to the people around them? We thought that perhaps the answer was that it could be, but it would be a different way of being the church than any of us had known, and it might not be easy.

Simple, but not easy. But worth it.

We decided to to try. Seeking to learn what it would mean to be “a community marked by prayer and service, with peace“, valuing the importance of being present to a particular place and its people, we set out with a very important question:

“would we be willing to serve this town even if no one joins our church?” 

Would we be willing to resist the urge to use serving others as a way of marketing our church? To that end, we also established a separate 501c3 non-profit, the Coraopolis Community Development Foundation (www.coryfoundation.org) to function as our way of being intentional and consistent about serving our community. We thought that this would also enable others to come alongside us to work for the flourishing of the town, while remaining in their own churches or, for others, belonging to no church at all.

Seven years on, we are still here, though many of our founding friends and co-workers have moved away or moved into a different life season while others, having initially experienced the love of God through the care of intentional presence, have joined us both as partners in our work and as members of the faith community. We began in a living room, moved to a local restaurant, then into a storefront. Today we are located in a more traditional building at 1321 State Avenue in Coraopolis. The spaces have changed, the vision remains.

Sam Jampetro,the founding pastor of Charis247,  was a part of those trips to Gulfport and one of the small group of friends asking those questions. Leaving a corporate vocation of twenty-five years after having received God’s release accompanied by the words “village ministry,” Sam resigned his position with a Fortune 100 company to complete his seminary studies and was ordained an Anglican priest in 2006. He holds a BA from Norwich University with a concentration in Literature and Religion, and a Masters of Divinity from Trinity Ambridge PA.  Sam and his wife Jackie have been married for thirty-seven years and have two children and two grandchildren, Josiah Philip and Abram Samuel.