to North America
the Presbyterian Church in America to Plant, Grow, and
an African-American church in Fayetteville, Georgia, is
reaching the middle class and apprenticing church planters to
do the same.
Makings of a Movement
with Perimeter Ministries, aims to plant many more
When it comes to PCA church planting, Louis Wilson has some
definite goals in mind. For one, he wants to see many more PCA
churches that reach middle-class African Americans, a rapidly
growing segment of the population. For another, he believes
there is a better way to prepare church planters than to teach
a set formula. "My idea of preparing church
planters," Louis says, "is to help them identify and
develop their gifts and show them how they can apply these
gifts in organizing a church." To achieve these goals,
Louis has established a church planting apprenticeship program
at Redemption Fellowship where he is senior pastor.
A daughter church of Atlanta’s Perimeter Ministries,
Redemption is strategically located in a growing area of south
metro Atlanta — in Fayetteville, near Fulton and Clayton
counties. The church reaches primarily middle-class African
Americans. In 1995, Louis led in organizing Redemption which
now has its own building and averages about 110 at Sunday
Redemption’s apprenticeship program officially launched
in the early part of 1998 when Weldon Williams moved to
Atlanta from Philadelphia to begin approximately 24 months of
training. The objective: to prepare for organizing a PCA
church in the Chicago area which will target middle-class
African Americans. Reflecting Louis’ concept that building
personal strengths is the most effective way to prepare for
church planting, the apprenticeship program is not typical.
"Often," says Louis, "apprentices are
brought into a church and assigned a specific function —
such as youth pastor — which fills a need for the church,
but doesn’t necessarily help the man learn how to plant a
church — or how to identify and cultivate personal gifts
that can be employed in organizing a church."
As an apprentice, Weldon will focus on building
relationships with people in surrounding communities typical
of those he expects to reach in the Midwest, such as large
subdivisions and apartments populated with blacks and whites.
"I believe in networking," Louis explains, "so
Weldon will have the support of church members who can help
him meet people in these communities and form small
Wilson says, since he arrived in Atlanta in early 1995 to
start Redemption Fellowship, “It has been one
mountain-moving episode after another.” The church has
grown rapidly and changed many lives. About four times a
year, members gather after Sunday worship for a fellowship
Through these experiences, Weldon will be able to test and
prove what works best for him. Rather than learning a textbook
model for organizing a church, he’ll learn which of his
gifts are most effective in church planting. "Some
pastors are great with people, but not good vision casters,
while others are outstanding evangelists," Louis points
out. "There’s no one way to do ministry — no perfect
model. God can build churches in different ways."
“If the PCA is to be
successful in accomplishing its vision as a
denomination, it must be effective in reaching African
Americans. To be successful in reaching African
Americans, we must be successful in starting
African-American churches. To be successful in
starting African-American churches, we must have a
plan to effectively train African-American leaders.
Louis Wilson has such a plan as well as the heart, the
skills, and the experience to execute that plan.”
Director of Perimeter Ministries International
Redemption’s apprenticeship program also addresses
another of Louis’ objectives: to establish more PCA churches
that reach out to African-American leaders — leaders who can
have a long-range impact on church multiplication and the
African-American community as a whole. "I want Redemption
to be a resource church who will facilitate the planting of
other like-minded churches. Then, all of us, partnering
together with churches throughout the PCA, can influence and
serve this population in all areas, from the inner city to the
Left to right:
Weldon Williams with wife Shelly and Midwest pastors Mike
Marcey and Ted Powers. Weldon began a church planting
apprenticeship at Redemption this year in preparation for
starting a church in Chicago where Mike and Ted will give
Redemption, together with Perimeter Ministries, expects to
plant five African-American churches in the Atlanta area over
the next five to ten years. Church leaders already have their
eye on a Stone Mountain location for a 1998 church plant; next
will come churches in Roswell and Smyrna. Redemption also
plans to reach African Americans on college and university
campuses in the metro area. "Our objective is to reach
future leaders by building a pipeline to university students
— not only for the sake of winning people to Christ, but
also to seek out and to motivate men who will multiply
and Ella Wilson moved to Atlanta from Dallas, they knew only
one family in the Fayetteville area. A few months later,
they were in search of a site for their first worship
When Weldon Williams moved to Atlanta with his wife and
three small boys to begin his apprenticeship, he gave up a
part-time pastorate; he and his wife, Shelly, gave up
full-time jobs and relinquished their house in a Philadelphia
suburb. "This is a major life adjustment," says
Weldon, "…we left a fairly secure lifestyle that we
know, to move to a strange city and live on much less money.
But we feel called to take this step and we’re expecting God
to do great things."
less than a year, Redemption purchased this $900,000
facility in Fayetteville with a sanctuary that seats 500.
Throughout the week, it’s in full swing with workshops
on various topics and tutorial programs in math and
reading, as well as worship services and fellowship.
A native of the Chicago area, Weldon went to Duke
University on a basketball scholarship and later earned a
degree from Westminster Theological Seminary. He didn’t know
Louis Wilson until the Atlanta pastor telephoned him last
March to begin the dialogue that would eventually lead to the
internship. The contact was initiated through a member of
Redemption Fellowship who knew Weldon and recommended him to
Louis as a good candidate for church planting.
"I was immediately interested because the issue of
church planting has continually surfaced since I was in
seminary," says Weldon. "I see myself as a lover of
people and an aggressive leader who wants to be used by God,
and I’ve felt God moving me in the direction of church
Lewis, pictured here with wife Vita, is one of the
transformations at Redemption. As a boy, he passed out
tracts for Malcolm X; today, he’s dedicated to the Gospel.
Tom and Vita are both key members who serve the church in
He looks forward to returning to the Chicago area and, when
the time comes, will work with Ted Powers, MNA midwest
regional coordinator and pastor of Christ Presbyterian in
Downers Grove, Illinois, as well as Mike Marcey, pastor of
Naperville Presbyterian in Naperville, Illinois, in planning
the location for his first church plant.
"We’re on the crest of a major movement in reaching
out to a part of the population that needs PCA churches,"
Weldon says. "I’m excited to be part of that movement
— I believe it will help bring about reconciliation between
the white and black races and that God will use it to do a
Ted Powers says they’ve been praying for years that
"the Lord would send leaders to plant movement churches
to reach the growing minority groups in this area." There
are currently one million African Americans here, nearly half
of them living in the suburbs. African Americans are reported
to be the fastest growing group within the middle class. In
the Chicago area, there are 1.2 million Hispanics and 250,000
Filipinos. The population includes 400,000 Muslims.
"We have already identified twelve potential locations
for PCA churches. Our goal is to plant twenty-five churches
targeting minority groups over the next couple of decades, and
one hundred minority churches throughout the Midwest over the
same time period."
The Vital Church
Mother Daughter Relationship Benefits Everyone.
From the start, Wheatland Presbyterian in Lancaster, PA, had a
steady influx of new people, including a number who have come to
faith in the Lord. Organized in June, 1996, and led by Christopher
Labs, the church was averaging 220 at Sunday worship by the first
of this year. Wheatland is a daughter of Westminster Presbyterian,
five miles away, which is pastored by Michael Rogers. It
illustrates that a mother-daughter relationship not only benefits
the church plant, but also prospers the planting church.
Asked what he considers the essentials of an effective church
plant, Christopher says: "First, know why you exist — we
exist to glorify God by equipping believers to lovingly confront
our generation with Jesus Christ’s transforming power. Second,
have a mother church who is 100 percent behind you."
Westminster demonstrated their support by giving Wheatland seed
money to buy a facility (a former Christian Scientist church) and
by supplying 43 families for the core group — a tremendous boost
for the church plant. At the same time, giving up so many families
was a tremendous sacrifice for Westminster. "It was 10
percent of Westminster’s congregation," says Chris, "…we
urged them to come only if they had a compelling vision to reach
out to Lancaster." Within a year, the core families were
replaced at Westminster and the church’s budget was not impacted
The same principles that were employed in this church plant can
be duplicated throughout the PCA with the same results. True,
Westminster is a large congregation, but the mother-daughter model
has been proven effective again and again, no matter the size of
Chris Labs, pastor of Wheatland Presbyterian in Lancaster, PA,
with wife, Brenda, and leaders of his growing congregation. The
mother church is Westminster, led by Michael Rogers. Chris served
there for nine years and was influenced to become a church planter
by Stephen Beck at Grace Toronto and church planter recruiting
events at General Assembly.
In 1853, Andrew Bonar wrote: "God likes to see His people
shut up to this, that there is no hope but in prayer. Herein lies
the church’s power against the world."
One of the great motivators for prayer is desperation. A
growing number of church leaders sense the desperation of our
times and are participating in days of prayer and fasting. For
example, Presbytery Days of Prayer and Fasting for Teaching Elders
are set for May 15 in New Jersey and for May 19 in Mississippi
Valley. For information about conducting a day of prayer and
fasting in your presbytery or local church, contact Bill Thompson
at First Presbyterian in Dothan, AL: 334-794-3128; e-mail: email@example.com.
Or contact Archie Parrish, MNA Coordinator of Church Vitality:
404-320-3330; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
A PCA-wide Convocation for Revival is being planned for October
13 - 15 at Trinity Presbyterian Church, Jackson, MS, which will
focus on preparing leaders for the coming revival. If you’re
interested, call Mike Ross, senior pastor at Trinity:
Koh . . .
. . .has been named MNA
Korean Ministries Coordinator, currently a part-time position.
He is also pastor of Emmanuel Presbyterian. "Henry has
great gifts in ministry," said MNA Coordinator Cortez
Cooper, "and a passion for developing first and second
generation Korean churches. We pray that funding will be
available by year end so that he can become full-time."
Above: Fred and
Carrie Schumpert, left, and David and Hannah Kennedy, right, live
in Atlanta where they’re active in ChristChurch (PCA). Hannah
gives RUF credit for preparing David to be an outstanding husband.
David says that Hal was an excellent role model. “It was always
a blessing to be in his home and see how he related to his wife
and his children.”
In his sophomore year at Vanderbilt, David Kennedy was having a
tough time. "I was a believer, but God seemed so
distant," says David. "I kept praying and reading the
Word, but wasn’t getting much out of it — that is, until I
started attending Reformed University Fellowship meetings —
then, the consistency of the Truth being taught really got through
to me. My circumstances didn’t change, but God changed my heart
and gave me new insights that made a remarkable difference in my
That was more than five years ago. David graduated from
Vanderbilt in 1994; today he works as an institutional stock
broker with Volume Investors in Atlanta and as a consultant to
foundations for W. T. Kennedy, Inc. He and his wife, Hannah, are
members of ChristChurch Presbyterian.
David’s experience with Reformed University Ministries
illustrates what sets this campus ministry apart from most others.
According to Hal Farnsworth, RUF campus minister at Vanderbilt
when David was there, "RUF is theologically driven and
focused on helping each individual grow in the Word. Wherever you
are spiritually — even if you’re nowhere — you can fit
Hal is now pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian in Athens, Georgia,
a church he planted in 1996. From 1989 until then, he served as a
campus minister and feels strongly about the importance of RUF.
Since Athens is home of the University of Georgia, his campus
experience is invaluable. "We’re employing the RUF approach
in our church and we’re committed to reaching non-Christians in
this culturally diverse community," Hal points out.
Another Vanderbilt alum, Fred Schumpert, can’t say enough
about the influence RUF had on his life. "Hal helped us find
answers to life’s big questions. He taught me the validity of
the Christian faith and reinforced my beliefs. Best of all, I
gained a Christian world-view that I can take into every area of
Williams of New City Fellowship North in St. Louis, MO, and
Randy Nabors, pastor of New City Fellowship in Chattanooga, TN,
were among the 175 PCA members involved with urban,
cross-cultural, and mercy ministries who took part in last fall’s
Urban & Mercy Ministries Goes to CCDA. The Christian
Community Development Association, founded by African-American
evangelist John Perkins, is a coalition of urban,
cross-cultural, and mercy ministries located throughout the US.
Each year, CCDA holds a highly practical, skills-oriented
conference which is attended by about 2,500 people associated
with such ministries. For the past three years, PCA members
involved with urban and mercy ministries have used this
three-day event as a means of networking and providing updates
of their activities. At last November’s conference, held in
Birmingham, at least 175 attended who are affiliated with PCA
The primary focus of MNA Urban & Mercy Ministries is to
develop minority leaders who will go on to lead church plants
and other ministries targeting minorities throughout North
America. At the recent CCDA Conference, MNA hosted a luncheon
for those involved with PCA ministries. The 1998 conference will
be held during November in Chicago. For more information,
contact MNA Coordinator of Church Relations Fred Marsh at
404-320-3330; e-mail: email@example.com.
|What can one person do? Studies show that
often it is not pastors who lead individuals to Christ,
but friends, coworkers, and lay people in the church.
Certainly, pastors preaching the Word plant seeds that
bear fruit, but one-to-one relationships will always be
vital to advancing the Kingdom. One person, in fact, can
influence countless people for years to come, as those who
are led to Christ go on to share the Gospel with others.
And so it goes.
And so it is with planting PCA churches. All the work
can’t be accomplished by a committee or a congregation.
There must be individuals willing to pray, to encourage,
to give financially. Individuals able to do so can make a
huge difference by getting personally involved in a church
plant — by observing the work and reporting back to the
supporting church, taking part as a core group member, or
serving in other ways. MNA’s campus and chaplain
ministries need people as well who can give their time and
talent, as well as their treasure.
Have you ever experienced the joy of giving financially
to a person who was in desperate need, knowing that your
gift made the difference in that person’s life — was
possibly the turning point in his or her circumstances?
Giving to help support a church plant, a campus ministry,
or a chaplain can be like that. And it can produce
resounding results for all eternity.
Throughout North America, there are people hungry to
learn about Christ’s love — groups waiting for a
church planter — pastors waiting to be sent. What can
one person do? Perhaps more than you can possibly imagine.
To learn more of how you can be involved, contact Fred
Marsh, MNA Church Relations coordinator at 404-320-3330;
A PCA Chaplain Joins Ranks with Top Military
Leaders. The US Army War College is the training ground for future
military leaders. Founded in 1903 and located in Washington, DC,
the college was moved to historic Carlisle Barracks
Carlisle, Pennsylvania, after World War II. Among
its distinguished graduates are General (and former president)
Dwight D. Eisenhower, Fleet Admiral William F. Halsey, and General
H. Norman Schwarzkopf. Only the creme de la creme are chosen to
attend the college’s one-year course, which means PCA Chaplain
(Lt Col) Douglas Lee is in good company.
A 20-year Army veteran, and a PCA chaplain throughout, Doug is
a reservist on active duty. He began the course last July, along
with about 300 others and is one of less than five reserve
chaplains to be selected over the college’s 95-year history.
The War College teaches an intensive program focused on
worldwide issues concerning the military, religion, politics, and
government. The goal is to prepare military, civilian, and
international personnel to assume strategic leadership
"This experience has given me an eye-opening view of the
world and a much better understanding of how it operates on
several levels, " says Doug. "It has also deepened my
conviction of the need for a Christian influence."
In addition to learning about strategic global issues and
strengthening his leadership skills, Doug has benefited from close
interaction with people in leadership positions and the
opportunity to influence them. Besides handling a full schedule of
classes, accompanied by outside assignments, Doug participates in
a Bible study on post, teaches young people in Sunday school, and
occasionally fills the pulpit at the post chapel.
PCA Chaplain Doug Lee is one of only a few US Army Reservists
on active duty ever selected for the Army War College which he is
attending with about 300 students. He considers it God’s
providence that he was chosen from among hundreds of candidates.
Address comments to Fred Marsh,
Managing Editor / Photographer.
Design: Studio Supplee.
Copy Editor/Writer: Joan Quillen. Material in Multiply may
be reproduced with permission.
Mission to North America serves
the churches and presbyteries of the Presbyterian Church in
America by enabling the PCA to plant, grow, and multiply
churches. Church Vitality, Urban and Mercy Ministries,
Chaplain Ministries, and Campus Ministries all contribute to
that greater goal.