To meet the challenge, the Anglican Church in North America has embraced a broad range of individuals who are carrying out the church planting mission. Through this diversity, one can see that one size does not fit all and one model cannot win all. Embracing diversity is the only way to reach our communities for Christ.
The Rev. Joshua Gilliam is a wonderful example of the growing diversity and mission in the Anglican Church in North America. In Concord, North Carolina, the Lord is using Fr. Joshua to plant two very different Anglican churches.
Joshua is originally from Kannapolis, North Carolina and learned to speak Spanish at Queens University in Charlotte. He met his wife Nelva, who is from Mexico, and together they have four children. Together Joshua and Nelva began to dream about planting a church that would reach the Hispanic community.
In 2003, after holding their initial meetings in a house, they planted a Hispanic congregation called La Mission, in Concord, North Carolina. After moving between several worship spaces, the Lord opened the doors for them to meet at Kerr Street United Methodist in Concord. Kerr Street UMC was an older church that, seeing the community change around them with the influx of Hispanic migrant workers, chose to open their doors to allow other expressions of the church that would reach the community.
Uniquely, there are now three congregations that meet at Kerr Street UMC: La Mission, the Methodist congregation, and an African American congregation. God has brought these three together to share this worship space and do mission together.
Recently Joshua felt called to start a liturgical and sacramental English congregation, and on Easter of 2015, his team planted Resurrection Anglican Church in Concord. This time, another UMC church – Mt. Carmel United Methodist Church – was available and opened their doors for Resurrection Anglican Church to meet on Sunday mornings at 11.am. In the few months since their inception, they have grown to about 40 people.
Joshua attributes all of their success to God’s grace, “God has done it all. He prepared me and called me to this area. He sent the people who are hungry for an evangelical and sacramental expression of the faith that the Anglican Church in North America has to offer. His finger prints are all over everything we do.”
A Diocesan Vision for Church Planting
Fr. Joshua recently became a priest in the Diocese of the Carolinas. The diocese has helped plant nearly ten churches in the past two years, and gives the majority of its annual budget to church planting. In the words of Bishop Steve Wood, “we have put our resources behind the vision, and so a substantial portion of our budget is earmarked for mission and church planting. Resources and structures should be designed to facilitate mission and church planting.”
Likewise, the diocese is set up to help coach and support the church planters. There is a regional lead team that helps support the work of church planting across the Carolinas by coaching church planters. Gary Ball, who recently planted Redeemer Anglican Church in Ashville, North Carolina commented that “church planting can be lonely and discouraging. It’s so helpful to have someone to walk alongside us.” Mentoring and coaching is vital to the vision for church planting in the Diocese of the Carolinas.
Get Involved with Church Planting
The call to plant new churches is bigger than any one diocese, church, or individual. Everyone has a part to play. It will take us all working together to make this God-sized dream a reality. We can do it if we all share in the responsibility of impacting our nation for Christ through planting new churches. Contact your diocese for more information about church planting in your region.
-By The Rev. Canon Dr. Winfield Bevins
The Rev. Dr. Winfield Bevins is the Director of Asbury Seminary’s Church Planting Initiative and Canon for Church Planting for the Diocese of the Carolinas. He is the author of several books, including Our Common Prayer: A Field Guide to the Book of Common Prayer.