From Brent Storms, President and CEO of Orchard Group
When you reflect on the events of a year, you are likely to remember some of the difficulties and challenges. Hopefully you’re able to make a longer list of things to celebrate! We’re grateful that the victories and successes of the past year far surpass any challenges.
In September we celebrated the launch of two new churches led by African-American lead planters in culturally vibrant neighborhoods in Manhattan and Chicago. Jordan Rice leads Renaissance Church in Harlem and Derrick Puckett leads Renewal Church near the United Center. These two new churches are reaching people from all different backgrounds and walks of life. Watson Jones is preparing for the launch of Restoration Church in a similar neighborhood in Philadelphia next Spring. We are grateful that God has connected us with such capable leaders to help us reach a broader audience in these cities.
Missio Dei Community in Salt Lake City and New City Church in Phoenix will be able to reach more people in their cities well into the future. Both churches purchased buildings in 2014. In addition to their excellent downtown locations, both buildings offer parking, easy access by public transportation and plenty of room to grow.
A healthy church planting movement is happening in Maryland near Baltimore and Washington. Four new churches have been started in the past five years – Mosaic Christian Church near Baltimore, Revolution Church in Annapolis, Restore Church in Silver Spring and The Foundry in Baltimore. On Easter Sunday this year these four new churches welcomed 2,497 worshippers combined!
Overall, the churches started by Orchard Group over the past two decades reached 18,566 people on Easter Sunday. And it’s clear that the trend is one of healthy growth. Churches under 5 years old reached 314 on average. Churches 5-10 years old reached 597 on average and churches 10-20 years old reached 1,026 on average.
New churches in two of the largest cities in Japan passed an important milestone this year. Together the Mustard Seed Christian Churches in Nagoya and Osaka have now celebrated the baptisms of over 50 new believers. This fantastic news is even more remarkable considering that the country is one of the most densely populated yet least churched in the world.
There are too many other great stories to share them all. True North Community Church on Long Island celebrated 131 baptisms on one day. Mission Church in Ventura, CA is three years old, averaging 724 people and has celebrated 78 baptisms in 2014. Orchard Institute hosted seminars on urban church planting for 40 ministry students. Some of these students have been selected for internships with Orchard Group churches. What a great year!
We’re already excited about 2015 when we will see new churches launch in Philadelphia, Miami and Los Angeles.
Will you help us get off to a great start this year? We need your help to provide church planters with all the tools and resources they can get to be as effective as possible. You can select Orchard Group General Fund from the menu at orchardgroupdonations.org.