Riverside Church, Beaumont TX
God has shown Himself good.
My wife had knee replacement surgery on Monday August 21. She was released from the hospital August 24th and the hurricane hit our area on the 25th. The wind was not too bad, but the rain just never stopped. Beaumont set the world record for rainfall for one storm event at just shy of 65 inches. Flooding began in low areas on Sunday evening. Then Monday evening through Wednesday night we received even more heavy rainfall. We lost power on Monday and lost water on Tuesday. Sandy and I had to move in with friends for a week who had a pool (we used the pool water to flush toilets). The flood waters kept rising and blocked all roads in and out of Beaumont. We suddenly became an island. Thousands upon thousands had to be rescued off the roofs of their homes by bass boats. The hospital was closed and the patients were evacuated by the Air Force on cargo planes. Gas ran out, water ran out and finding food was becoming an issue. These were not moments that Americans are accustomed.
Flooding and our members
By the grace of God, not one home of our members were affected by the rising waters. And by the grace of God, we were able to help so many others who were. Although our church community was cut off from each other by roads being flooded out, impromptu worship services began to spring up in various areas of high ground. Such a blessing when surrounded by so much uncertainty.
In the aftermath of the storm and with all the flooding in Houston, it became apparent real quick that we were on our own. We established a storm fund and began our own relief efforts. We appointed Eric Manthei to be our disaster relief coordinator and he did an amazing job. He coordinated teams (comprised of many churches along with us) and we began the de-mucking process. Although working in sewage contaminated water and later around mold, by the grace of God no one was seriously hurt or got sick (although one did manage to run a drill bit through his hand – a war wound he calls it). Our efforts went from daily and then as the lights came back on and many returned to work, our efforts went to weekend duty. Last weekend was the first weekend we did not have a team go out. Everyone is desperate for normalcy, but for those who were flooded they still wait on their homes to be rebuilt. We praise the Lord for teams from Dallas, College Station, Shreveport and Baton Rouge for sending helping hands our way. Also, we praise the Lord for MNA Disaster Relief for sending a truckload of supplies to help us help others.
We shifted to meeting on Sunday mornings on October 1st. We presently meet at the Art Museum in downtown Beaumont. This move was not intended to be strategic as much as it was for the spiritual nourishment of our people. They were physically tired and psychologically exhausted. We all needed a sense of normalcy in our worship. Indeed, this was not the plans of man, but something that was graciously orchestrated by God. Comments that I have received from our congregation:
“I praise the Lord for His grace, the freeness we have in Christ.”
“I praise the Lord for the example of Christ’s servanthood in our congregation.”
“I praise the Lord for His mighty provision and for what He is going to do now.”
“I am thankful for the grace-filled teaching so that we can stop pridefully striving and instead rejoicefully serve.”
“I praise the Lord for lives changed by the gospel, in small and large ways.”
We are still training and receiving members. I am working with four covenant children (and one semi) in a membership/communion readiness class. This has been a blessing for me personally (and as well as a challenge) as I ‘feed the lambs’ about Jesus. Our men’s Bible study outreach continues to meet weekly on early Thursday mornings and I am about to begin a mid-day lunch gathering outreach downtown. Now that we now meet for worship on Sunday mornings, our small group ministry is about to begin a multi-site format. Attendance remains around 90 to 100, but we did have a smaller gathering last Sunday of around 65 (several families on vacation and quite a few are struggling with the flu).
Normalcy and the Future
We still have a few families who have other families living in their homes because of the flood, but for the most part normalcy has returned. Our disaster relief has shifted focus to help with the rebuilding efforts going on all around us. We halted all activity at the old church property during the disaster relief, but have now began to see rebuilding activity at the church. Our prayer is that by God’s provision and grace that we will be able to move into the church anywhere from April to July.
Events and Outreach
We continue to reach out to the students of Lamar University. We are hosting a Thanksgiving Meal for the students this Thursday evening, November 16th. We will gather at the park this Sunday for a pizza lunch as we fellowship and offer food to others there. We are planning a candle-light service on Christmas eve in the old abandoned sanctuary. Also, we are planning a mission trip to Haiti in July. My prayer is that anywhere from four to eight will join me on this mission.
Please pray for …
Prayer – What are we depending on the Lord for in 2018
a. Those who are in darkness into light / new faith
b. “christians” actually becoming Christian/spirit/knowledge filled
2. Continued movement of the Spirit in Riverside / authentic movement from religious unto life
3. That the Lord will bring more committed families to join our effort. How will the Lord bring them to us?
a. We need more FAT (faithful available teachable) people
4. Getting into building (refurbishing a old abandoned downtown church
5. The right/His Music leader would come!!!
6. Build up teachers and increase number of volunteers who are called to serve in children’s ministry
7. Dependent prayer on God
… continued growth, both spiritually and numerically
… for fruit among our extended hand to minorities not among us
Check out our website: www.riversidetx.org and facebook page
Thank you for your many prayers!
South Charlotte NC
Congratulations to South Charlotte Presbyterian Church (https://www.southcltpres.org/)on the launch of worship services in mid October. Planter Dean Faulkner sends this update: “I am pleased to report that we had roughly 120 join us for a great time of worship and community. Even better, some non-Christian friends and family, some dechurched folks and the curious joined us.
“We were joined by elders from the presbytery and momma church/Uptown. We were even joined by a contingency of friends from Monterrey Mexico/Redeemer City to City. The gospel went out. The launch team of SCPC did a fabulous job welcoming folks and setup/breakdown went well.
“Admittedly, I and the launch team were a bit worn out with all the anticipation and preparations. However, it is clear that God’s invisible hand has been on us with a talented team, financial support (now from the team too) and with the outstanding relationship with the school.
“Thank you all again for the prayers and texts and support…It was a great start for this baby church. I do thank God for all of you…my (our) support team in Christ…
“Col 1:3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven.”
Dean was also interviewed by the local paper just prior to the launch. You can read that here:
West Charlotte NC
Charles McKnight and Drew Martin are leading a new church plant in West Charlotte, called fittingly West Charlotte Church (https://www.westcharlottechurch.com/) which launched in September. Drew says “God is faithful! After almost two years of planning and praying, countless meetings, a year’s worth of updates, nine months of launch team meetings, a spring and summer of outreach in our neighborhoods, a wild last month of getting everything together and “practicing” our Sunday routines, and along the way many “ups” and “downs” …
On Sunday, September 10, 2017, West Charlotte Church officially launched and it was a beautiful thing!” Click here to read the full update, including some prayer requests.
West Palm Beach FL
From A Secret Dream to Reality
In November 2014 I moved back to my hometown on West Palm Beach, FL after being away for almost 5 years. I had served on the staff of churches in Tennessee and North Carolina, served in a campus ministry at a historically Black university, been ordained as a pastor in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) and been assessed as a church planter by the Mission to North America (MNA) Church Planting Assessment Center.
I was transitioning from a ministry opportunity where we saw much growth and success. It was a very good situation in which I was very comfortable financially and in terms of ministry impact. However, there was a sense that God was calling me to do more and God used some challenges, godly counsel and circumstances to show me it was time to transition. So I left some great people and moved back home with the intention of pursuing a call in a bigger city with a big African-American population like Atlanta, Baltimore or Washington DC. However, my heart always was connected to my hometown and a real need for a certain type of church. A church I felt that through my story I could plant in another city but not my hometown.
I thought the challenges of my hometown were too great to overcome. Being in ministry since I was 12, I thought my hometown would never respect me as an adult, I had never fundraised anywhere near the money required to plant a church and some past ministry hurt had me doubting if I wanted to plant or even remain in the PCA. Yet pastors in the presbytery and people at Truth Point Church including Lead Pastor Jeremy McKeen loved, encouraged and challenged me. By God’s grace New Song has overcame a lot of adversity and is only months away from becoming a reality.
What encourages me is not just New Song but seeing how God has grown Truth Point Church (the only PCA church in West Palm) exponentially in the past few years, my friend Ricky Aiken and a board made up of primarily of young adults who overcame inner city challenges to flourish have launched a non-profit Inner City Innovators (innercityinnovators.org), Black millennial owned businesses are beginning to thrive in a part of our target area many thought was beyond repair (i.e. Kate Hub, Bombshell Boutique), I truly believe God is up to something bigger than me and am honored to be a small part of it. There is still more to overcome and accomplish but I know in the midst of very real challenges that I am where God wants me to be in a way I have not sensed in my adult life.
We will “Soft” Launch Sunday Morning Worship on October 1
We have been meeting as a launch team this summer and will have a “soft” launch on Sunday, October 1. This launch will be like regular Sunday worship and will be weekly. It will just be a time to establish a rhythm of worship and work out the kinks in our set up and service. We will also launch City Groups (12-20) and Life Groups (3-5 gender specific) in the Fall. Visitors are welcomed and encouraged to attend weekly beginning in October. The only difference is we won’t do major marketing beyond signs in October. We will then publicly launch in January and will invite the community, have a BBQ at the park and hopefully receive members and perform baptisms. We are in talks with two local elementary schools in the area and have receive positive feedback from one and should sign a lease soon. Our focus will be on the Pleasant City and Northwood communities north of downtown West Palm.
Because we were not able to secure local community center spots we will end up spending more on facility rental than we originally expected. We also have some big needs including a sound system and sound board, software, extra chairs, signage and other things. We would like to do one final fundraising push to make sure we are in good financial position to do ministry in the part of our target area where many have financial needs as well as engage the many young professional families moving into the “gentrified” part of our target area. Our broad target area has significant inner city, working class and young urban professional populations. Our launch team has ethnic, cultural, socio-economic, generational and relationship status diversity as well.
No gift is too big or too small! Please consider giving! More than money we cover your prayers! Please keep this work in prayer as we begin to preach through the Gospel of John in October. Thank so much for those who have been praying and who have given to this work! Our website is up but still needs some more work done. We hope to have our giving tab operational on the website in the coming weeks!
!. You can mail support to:
New Song Church
P.O. Box 8007
West Palm Beach, FL 33407
2. You can give through Mission to North America (MNA)
Mission to North America
P.O Box 890233
Charlotte, NC. 28289
Please designate the gift for Ronnie Perry.
3. Truth Point Church
139 N. County Rd. #36
Palm Beach, FL. 33480
Online: truthpoint.org/giving (please designate New Song Church)