New to the Spheres

New to the Spheres
July 2023
Written by Kaitlyn Farrance

Recently, several fellowship groups in the college and adult spheres split and formed new groups. Here's a look at some of our newest fellowship groups!

There comes a season when a fellowship group is poised to split. We can be encouraged that forming smaller, more focused fellowship groups was practiced by the early church. Acts 2:46-47 paints a picture of believers meeting regularly in their homes, praising God, with many people getting saved through the faith of these believers.

In the same way, we hope to see organic growth through small fellowship groups that meet in homes and on the Kent State campus here at Freedom Fellowships. We have had several exciting splits worth celebrating since the start of 2023.

Identity Project Split

The college ministry grew from two fellowship groups to three after Nitro split to form Torch this summer.


Torch, led by deacons Logan and Katie Balas and Jaret and Hannah Maxwell, had its first meeting May 23. Since its kickoff, members have been encouraged to take ownership of their faith and meet the needs of those around them. While some may say Torch is filled with goofy and fun-loving people, it is also obvious they are deeply committed to reaching people for Jesus. New teachers are stepping up to become equipped, discovery groups are forming to reach out to the lost and prayer leaders are paving the way by imploring God to do great things.

Since the first meeting in May, Hannah said there have been new people who have come to hear the gospel for the first time. Torch would appreciate prayers as members in the group figure out their ministry roles and as the members serve the community around them.

Logan and Katie Balas and Jaret and Hannah Maxwell serve as deacons in Torch. For summer, the group meets Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. at parks in Kent.

Adult Sphere Changeups

Both Phoenix and Fusion fellowship groups formed about two years ago with a goal of mixing up various fellowship groups in hopes of splitting and growing.

Mandy Tomko, a deacon who led Phoenix and now leads as a deacon in Renegade, said Phoenix formed as a way to create a cross-generational group, combining a group of mostly 20-year-olds with a group of mostly 30-to-50 year-olds.

Angie Bertka, a deacon who led Fusion and now leads as a deacon in ABS, said Fusion was a similar combination of two fellowship groups, with the goal of splitting into smaller groups.

In late 2022, Phoenix split to form two smaller groups called Armory and Renegade, while Fusion split to form ABS and Hager Fellowship Group.


This fellowship group features a mix of wisdom and energy as well as young families and those nearing retirement. Mike Hudock, a deacon in Armory, said the group has benefited from having people from different generations work together. He said having a smaller group of 15 to 20 people per week has also helped to encourage believers to step up and serve in new ways.

Ted and Indre Howell, Mike and Laura Hudock and Nick and Georgia Schifer serve as deacons in Armory. The group typically meets Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. at Alex and Lydia Herbers’ house in Kent, Ohio.


Since the split, Mandy said everyone in Renegade has enjoyed being part of a smaller fellowship group, which usually has 23 people attend each week. The group has a goal to continue to build relationships with one another, figure out roles within the group and having a group equipped and conductive to evangelism.

Brian and Mandy Tomko and Adam and Asta Prtenjak serve as deacons in Renegade. The group typically meets Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. at the Tomkos’ home in Munroe Falls, Ohio.


Having a smaller fellowship group has helped members get to know one another better and deepen relationships. Angie said a goal of the group is to maintain unity, to encourage more people to step up and serve by leading prayer meetings and teaching as well as to take advantage of the multigenerational makeup of the group to assist in evangelism.

Joe and Lauren Allie, Angie Bertka and Craig and Ericka Smith serve as deacons in ABS. The group typically meets Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. at the Smiths’ home in Stow, Ohio.


Becoming a smaller fellowship group of mostly newly married couples and young families has its challenges, but Rich Hager, a deacon in Hager Fellowship Group, said it has been rewarding to see the Lord at work. He said the men’s cell group has started an initiative to form small groups of two to four to meet and befriend people in the Stow and Kent area in earnest desire to share the gospel.

Rich and Becky Hager serve as deacons in Hager Fellowship Group. The group typically meets Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. at the Hagers’ home in Kent, Ohio.