When Story Church holds its first service Sunday at Centennial High School, it will be the culmination of its two motivated pastors.
“Our passion and heart’s desire is to be a beacon of hope for everyone we meet,” said Guy and Ashley Hoss, who serve together as Story's lead pastors.
“We want to show love like we’ve been loved,” they said.
Although the Hosses officially launch Story Church this weekend, they have been involved in ministry many years and have seen many peoples’ lives change.
That includes a dramatic decline in drug use and suicide rates, a downtown revitalization, aiding those in need by delivering the Good News.
"We have seen families restored and marriages healed,” the Hosses said.
According to recent statistics by Area Vibes, a national organization that provides in depth information about crime and other factors in order to determine the best places to live in the United States, Bakersfield has a crime rate that is eight percent higher than the California average and 24 percent higher than the national average.
The Hosses hope to change that.
Rather than focusing on a physical location, they envision a church that impacts the city because of the people. A key component of that is a counseling center for those struggling with emotional, mental or relational problems,” they said.
Guy Hoss, who says he grew up in an amazing family — both his father and grandfather were pastors — recalls that as a young man he continued to struggle with feelings of insecurity and rejection.
Although as a clinical therapist, he admits he was tempted to analyze his life from a psychological perspective, it wasn’t until he realized how much God loved him, not for what he did, but for who he was as an individual, that he was able to experience God’s love.
“It was when I met God for myself and experienced his unrelenting love for me that I was able to understand and receive the love of my family and conquer my fears,” he said.
Now his passion is to reach others and become a beacon of hope for them.
“I feel the reason God has called me back to this city is to share that everyone is worthy of God’s love, and his love will change your belief in him and hope for your future,” he said.
Ashley Hoss, who also grew up in a pastor’s home, knew at a young age that pastoring was her calling in life. A former children’s pastor for a Southern California church and a home school educator, she said it was something she never questioned.
“My childhood was bumpy due to death, divorce and many other things that led me down a wrong path as a teenager. However, I knew my rebellious streak wasn’t forever. I decided, with a push from my parents that Bible college was the best thing for me.”
“It truly was life-changing for many reasons,” she continued, “one being, I met my husband, Guy, there.”
The Hosses, who live in Bakersfield with their two children, Graeson, 9, and Eden, 5, are dedicated to establishing a "life-giving church that wants people to know their story matters."
“I am blessed to have been placed in this life-giving church,” said Bakersfield resident Denise Baughman, owner of a local investment company.
“My relationship with God, my family and friends are better than they have ever been since connecting with the Story Church family,” she said.
That's exactly how the Hosses want people to feel.
“You matter! You matter to God and you matter to us,” the Hosses said.
Jo Ann Baker runs Jo Ann Baker Public Relations, a public relations and media consultancy service in Southern California. For more information, visit joannbakerpr.com.