Winter 2003


Inside this issue:


Mission San Diego
Marine Recruits Ministry
MNA Disaster Response 

Along the shores of San Diego Bay, the power of the Gospel is bringing light and life to people and communities through a church planting movement with a multisite, multicongregational approach.

  Working Together to Transform North America




1769 Spanish ships, San Antonio and San Carlos, sail into San Diego Bay. A camp is established on Presidio hill. California Governor Gaspar de Portola and Father Junipero Serra arrive with a small group. Mission San Diego de Alcala is officially founded, the first of twenty-one missions to be established along the Californian coast.

1999 Church planter Dick Kaufmann flies into San Diego to initiate the first phase of a church planting movement. Church planter Doug Swagerty joins Dick to lay groundwork - together they implement friendship evangelism and network the marketplace. A launch team is organized.

2000 The team embraces the vision: "To ignite a church planting movement that so fills the city of San Diego with the Gospel of Jesus Christ that people are changed in every dimension." Harbor Presbyterian Downtown begins public worship on March 19 at the Clarion Hotel, the first in a series of Harbor sites to be established throughout this section of southern California.

Dick Kaufmann, center, and wife, Liz, left, moved to San Diego in 1999 to launch Harbor Presbyterian. "We started here," says Dick, "because we believe God called us to be part of the changing face of San Diego, and that means being in the heart of the city." Mel Ely, right, was installed as elder last fall when Harbor became a particular church.

Five years ago, when Dick Kaufmann had a sudden desire to plant a church in San Diego, he was more than a little surprised. At 52, he thought his church planting days were far behind. When his wife, Liz, was prompted by the same desire, they realized the Holy Spirit must be involved. At that time, Dick was executive pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian in New York, NY, where part of his job was overseeing and mentoring church planters.

As the first step, Dick called on the counsel and prayer of PCA leaders at Redeemer NYC and its Urban Church Planting Center, including Tim Keller, Terry Gyger, and Jay Kyle, as well as Jim Bland at Mission to North America. These men, along with Allen Thompson, Paul Kooistra, and Bruce Terrell, who would serve initially as advisors for the San Diego work, encouraged Dick to include the border city of Tijuana, Mexico, in his long-range planning.


Harbor-UTC has sponsored several events for the community, similar to the one pictured here, led by their talented music director, Michael Bottomley. "We want to become known for excellent music," says church planter Bob Klein. The congregation is composed of families, single adults, and college students.


In May of 1999, Dick and Liz moved to the city and rented an apartment downtown. Research had revealed that residential growth was emerging downtown and expected to continue. For all of San Diego's 2.7 million population, there are fewer than four churches per 10,000 people. (The national average is a dozen per 10,000.)

From the beginning, the church planting strategy was unique in several ways. For instance, Harbor was planned as one church with multiple locations that would be governed by one session. The purpose of this structure is to maintain the sense of a small church while providing the ministry opportunities and services of a large church, to reach a variety of communities and people, and to maximize resources. Another advantage is that it has enabled Harbor to spin off members to support new church locations earlier than otherwise would be possible. 

The first Harbor site after Downtown was UTC (University Town Centre), which began public worship in April of 2001. The next, Carmel Valley, commenced in March 2003. A fourth site is scheduled to launch next fall in Chula Vista, a few miles from Tijuana. And that's only the beginning. Many other locations in and around San Diego are envisioned for the future.

Doug Swagerty, who worked with Dick Kaufmann in starting Harbor-Downtown, now serves as pastor for all the congregations, managing a variety of responsibilities, including preaching. About 30 Sundays a year, he fills the pulpit at different Harbor sites, so the other pastors can take breaks from sermon preparation to spend time on outreach and other pastoral duties.

The major internal advantages of the one church/ one session concept are teamwork and shared resources. Harbor pastors keep each other energized and encouraged, and those new to church planting gain invaluable coaching from the veterans. All agree that the team concept is a key to the success of Mission San Diego. The men talk regularly, meet monthly for full-day sessions, and gather twice a year for two-day retreats.

 A prime example of how the churches share is the work of Doug Swagerty, who is involved almost daily with all Harbor sites. Three days a week, he spends at the Downtown office dealing with central service issues, while one day a week he interfaces with church planters at other locations - serving as a pastor to them. "I'm asking how they're doing and what we can do to serve them better - I meet with the guys together with their wives as much as possible," Doug explains. "There's a lot of synergy with this team and my role is to synthesize it."

In July 2000, Bob Klein, right, started Harbor-UTC, near a regional shopping mall, office towers, and residential areas housing more than 45,000. Adjacent is the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) with 20,000 students. Pictured with Bob is wife, Karen, right foreground, with two of their three children, Jed and Kelsie, along with other church members at a gathering in the park.

Serving the community is extremely important for Harbor, as demonstrated by the church's mercy ministry in which all sites participate. "We've seen a lot of rewarding results," says Tim Sheridan, who directs the ministry, which operates with volunteer teams and partners with local agencies. "One couple from Harbor who tutors students was instrumental in leading a student to the Lord. Some church members who participate have major needs of their own - it's a real testimony of their faithfulness to see them helping others."

Director of Harbor's mercy ministry is Tim Sheridan, center, and left to right, John Jackson, elder, and mercy leadership team members, Frances Pannell, Mike and Claudia Grover. Currently, the ministry serves a rescue mission, an outreach to military families, a tutoring/mentoring program for at-risk students, as well as a ministry to the homeless.

"When I decided to become a church planter," explains Bob Klein, who leads Harbor Presbyterian at

 University Town Center (UTC), "God laid on my heart the desire to plant churches in southern California, a place that's extremely challenging." As he and Dick Kaufmann began to share ministry ideas, Dick explained the team approach as a means of building a strong resource church to impact church planting in the whole region. 

"Like most church planters," Bob says, "I had a vision and strong confidence in the Lord that I could start a church that would have an impact." But thinking about the team approach, he was reminded of a quote he had seen posted in a locker room years before: "You will win as long as no one cares who gets the credit." And Bob realized: if church planters were willing to put aside egos and personal ambitions to work together as a team, the San Diego area could be filled with the Gospel and many lives would be changed. 

The third Harbor site, started last March, is in Carmel Valley, an upscale residential community of 25,000 in north San Diego, projected to grow 75 percent over the next two decades. To make contacts, church planter Paul Kim and his wife, Linda, hold open houses, attend festivals, and participate in community activities.

To realize our dream for San Diego, we're focused on the power of the Gospel to change everything from individuals to the very structures of society. Dick Kaufmann

A vital aspect of the ministry plan at Harbor-UTC is to start Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) at UCSD. However, because the presbytery's churches are too small to support RUF, it will depend to a large extent on support from outside the presbytery. 

Church planter Paul Kim started work on Harbor's Carmel Valley site in July 2002 and introduced public worship the following March. While serving as a college pastor in the Los Angeles area, Paul was attracted by Harbor's vision for the city and by the team concept. "Working with a network of pastors who share the same goals and vision has been one of the most encouraging aspects of church planting," says Kim. 

Paul, right, with wife, Linda, and Alan Academia, left, with wife, Marijess, and daughter, Tori. One of Harbor's elders, Alan came from Downtown to support the launch of Harbor-Carmel Valley. The congregation consists mostly of highly educated 30-something couples and families with young children, who represent a mix of cultures - Anglo, Asian, and Hispanic - typical of San Diego's growing diversity.

To reach the community, Harbor-Carmel Valley invites neighbors to open houses, makes contacts at local festivals and concerts, and participates in school activities. Paul has been invited to speak regularly at Young Life meetings at the local high school. His wife, Linda, is actively involved within the community. 

The next site on the Harbor horizon, to be led by Russ Kapusinski, is Chula Vista in south San Diego, near the busiest border crossing in the world. Russ has been in ministry 15 years, but is new to church planting, so he too was drawn by the moral support and learning opportunities offered by the Harbor team. His background is a good fit - for years, he worked with Border Evangelism and Mercy Ministries (BEAMM), leading short-term missions teams to Mexico.

Russ Kapusinski moved to the area last October with wife, Diane, to lay groundwork for the fourth Harbor site - this one in Chula Vista, a community of 200,000 whose white collar residents are 50 percent Hispanic American; 25 percent are under age 18. The border city, Tijuana, is nearby, and future plans call for a ministry there.

As a former youth and family pastor at St. Paul's Presbyterian in Orlando, FL, Russ also brings a background that will serve him well in working with a similar population in Chula Vista. Initially, the new site will reach Chula Vista residents, while future plans call for mercy ministry and church planting across the border in Tijuana. 

Besides the three congregations of Harbor Presbyterian, another joined forces with the San Diego movement at the outset: New Hope Presbyterian in Tierrasanta, an affluent suburb.

Established in the early 80s, the church is pastored by John Tinnin, who was called in 1997. Even though John came to San Diego two years before Dick, he had been influenced by him, as well as by observing Redeemer NYC. Thus, when Dick moved to the West Coast, John welcomed the association and describes Dick as "one of the most gracious, humble men I've ever known."


New Hope pastor John Tinnin with wife, Paula, and daughters, Hannah and Sarah. God has used John to bring a fresh vitality to the church through a Gospel-centered approach to ministry, emphasizing that faith in Christ not only saves us, but also transforms us. Church leadership has been rejuvenated, effecting change in the congregation, and conversions are taking place.

Since 1999, New Hope has been connected with Harbor's infrastructure and with Mission San Diego. As John puts it, "New Hope and Harbor share the same DNA - by that, I mean we agree not only about doctrine, but also about how the Gospel is applied in real life and about church planting strategies." 

New Hope is experimenting with distinctive ways to reach people in this highly unchurched community. They have recently structured small groups around service projects, handed out backpacks and school supplies to single parents, and delivered 9-volt batteries for smoke alarms door to door the weekend of the fall time change, along with an invitation to visit the church. 

"What's most important," says John, "we've seen the Gospel change our ministry and it is changing each of us."

Harbor-Downtown, first site of the Harbor church plant-ing movement, meets at the Pacific Gas Lamp Theatre in the colorful Gas Lamp Quarter, a restaurant-entertainment section of the city. Church leaders focus on building friendships with people living downtown and pray that God will provide at least one Christian in each building who will make contacts with the unchurched.

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PCA chaplain Ken Counts, US Navy, ministers to service personnel at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) in San Diego, CA, which is home base for 2,000 permanent personnel and training site for a revolving mass of 4,000 to 6,000 recruits. Every year, a total of 20,000 spend 13 weeks in boot camp here. Following is an excerpt from a report Ken provided about his work:

Ministering to new recruits as they undergo the rigors of basic training affords outstanding evan-gelistic opportunities. Many who have turned their backs on church in high school begin thinking about spiritual issues when confined to boot camp and many make decisions for Christ.

I am one of eight chaplains representing different denominations assigned to MCRD. Each weekend, we conduct eleven worship services that draw an average attendance of 4,000. Throughout the week, the Lord opens doors to share Christ as we mingle with the troops. For example, when recruits, as well as drill instructors, are on the rifle range, working in the target pits, or on hikes, they often open up and talk about the deep questions of life. 

PCA chaplain Ken Counts, center, ministers to Marine recruits in San Diego. The grueling physical challenges faced by these young men and women often open the door to outstanding evangelistic opportunities. According to Ken, some recruits say that worship and prayer give them the strength to survive the rigorous training. 

The first month of boot camp is the toughest since it involves strict supervision and maximum discomfort. The second month is spent at Camp Pendleton, where recruits hike for miles, take weapons training, sleep in the field, and survive on MREs (meals ready to eat). The culmination of this phase is "The Crucible," a brutal 56-hour routine designed to build physical skills, while testing teamwork and leadership abilities. "The Crucible" allows recruits only three hours sleep a night and less than three MREs for the entire time period. It involves grueling physical challenges, from taking 40-mile hikes to mastering a daunting hill called "the Grim Reaper," pictured below.

Thank God that His presence is strong at the MCRD. Continually, we see Him saving souls and making disciples. Although not all recruits who experience personal revival during boot camp will continue their spiritual pursuit, that does not discount the harvest that is being gathered here by the grace of God. Please keep us in your prayers.


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Who Cares? "When people face disaster, most of all, they just want to know someone cares." So said an American Red Cross volunteer in an interview related to Hurricane Isabel which struck the East Coast last fall. In the past, MNA has made financial appeals to help people affected by such disasters, but was not equipped to offer personal attention. That situation is changing with the introduction of MNA Disaster Response.


"Instead of simply sending money," said MNA coordinator Jim Bland, "we wanted to be there to provide comfort and practical assistance - to show Christ-like love and mercy. We envisioned a nationwide network of disaster response volunteers." 

Ron Haynes, MNA disaster response director, and his wife, Judy, are currently visiting PCA churches to talk about the ministry, raise financial support, and recruit volunteers. 

For details, go to and click on Disaster Response. To request a presentation at your church, contact the Haynes: 636-227-2612 or <>.

Interested in serving as a volunteer in case disaster strikes in your region? Sign up on line or contact the Haynes for a registration form.

If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. Isaiah 58:10

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