One of the most exciting times in a family’s life is the birth of a baby. New parents (and grandparents!) post photos to share in their joy. Starting a new church is often compared to a birth. Furious work happens behind the scenes for months. Then everyone gets together to celebrate “Launch Sunday.” What was once behind the scenes is now public and ready to take its place in the world! Launch Sunday is one of the highlights of the early life of a church.
During September, two new churches were planted with the help of Orchard Group.
One hundred and forty three people attended Renewal’s launch service. Many were first time guests, invited by core group members. Several came because of flyers Renewal members had placed all over the West Side. Launch Sunday was notable for its enthusiasm and the diversity of the crowd. The congregation, led by church planter Derrick Puckett, mirrors the racial diversity and generational diversity of the area. Young, old, and people from a wide variety of backgrounds are participating in the new life of Renewal Church.
One young couple visited for the first time. They were overjoyed to find Renewal.
“We came just to check it out. By the end, we both looked at each other and said, ‘This is it. This is the community that we have been looking for.’”
That same enthusiasm was present at the opening of Renaissance Church. Lead planter Jordan Rice gave an impassioned message on the centrality of the gospel to the identity of their forming community. “If Jesus is truly raised from the dead- and I believe he is- then nothing else matters. This is the only thing that matters.” Two hundred and twenty people gathered, many of them enthusiastic about a new community of faith in Harlem, and anticipating the ways they can be a presence in the neighborhood.
The Foundry Church in Baltimore, which just celebrated their first year of meeting, sent volunteers to help Renaissance. Amber Ancarrow recalled, “We were doing this same thing just one year ago! So much happens in a year.” The “birth” of a new church is important. But equally important is how the church continues to grow.
New churches and growing churches. We have every reason to be hopeful for the continued health and growth of God’s Church!