Small churches in South Carolina support Send Boston church planters.

Partners from Edgefield Association support Boston church planters

A team of 15 members from seven Edgefield Association churches traveled to Dartmouth, Massachusetts, recently to work alongside church planters in local missions. The team’s four-day trip started Nov. 30 and included evangelistic missions and pastoral support. The trip was a result of ongoing ministry support and relationship-building with the church planters over the last year and represented partnership among Send Network church planters and smaller South Carolina Baptist churches.

“As a bivocational pastor, it does my heart much good to see churches come together for a common cause outside of our immediate context. We simply cannot accomplish all that is before us without each other. The local association provides us with the vehicle for joining together to do much more than we could ever do on our own,” says John Alexander, team leader and pastor of First Bethany in McCormick.

“These churches exemplify what it means to be ‘better together.’ By joining together to pray for, support and partner with the church planters in Boston, they are helping to fulfill the Great Commission in a place where it is greatly needed. Our partnership is made stronger by their involvement,” says Tim R., who works with mission teams through the South Carolina Baptist Convention.

In April 2017, Alexander participated in a Catch the Vision Tour to the Boston metropolitan area after meeting several local church planters through an Edgefield Association missions event. The trip gave team members greater insight into the evangelistic needs of the area, the work of church planters and ways that their churches could plug into those ministries. As a result, Alexander was drawn to the work of Chad and Jodi Hartis, who planted South Coast Church in Dartmouth.

“I was impressed by their passion to see lost people come to know Jesus and by their insistence to go where the evangelical percent was very low, the lowest in fact. They decided to plant their family and church where George Barna research calls ‘the least biblically-minded city in the country,’” he says.

As he prayed for partnership opportunities, Alexander kept in touch with the Hartis family through texts and emails. At the same time, another pastor and Catch the Vision Tour participant, John Noblin, of Plum Branch Church, was building a relationship with a second Massachusetts church planter. Noblin and Alexander’s churches began praying for the planters and have since hosted them in South Carolina.

“Our partnership was introduced slowly. We began praying for Chad, Jodi, their son and their church by name every week in our church service. We asked for regular updates, and we showed their videos in our Sunday morning services. Then we talked about the need to go and be physically present to help and encourage them. We also agreed to send a monthly financial gift to South Coast Church and support them through special offerings,” Alexander explained.

On the most recent trip, the associational team helped the church planters serve their community with home repairs and yard work, as well as hosted a movie night outreach and taught children’s classes at the church so that leaders could participate in worship. They were intentional to meet the needs of the church planters, which included watching their children for a date night.

Alexander says his relationship with church planters has led him to think differently. “South Coast Church is a young but thriving congregation in a spiritually dark area of our country.

“These church planters are heroes in every sense of the word. They are leading in amazing ways in an environment that is 1,000 times more difficult than anything that we face in McCormick, South Carolina. We need to see that. It helps us in our context more than I would have ever imagined.”

For his part, Edgefield Association’s Director of Missions Tim Shull says the growing relationship his churches have with New England church planters has been meaningful and will continue. “Many of these folks were on their first mission trip and some on their first airplane ride. The association applied for and received grants from the South Carolina Baptist Convention that enabled many to go. Reports from these mission-trippers produce a contagious effect in their churches. Many churches are specifically praying and have participated or will participate in special offerings for the new church plants.”

In the end, Alexander says churches will experience blessing through church planting partnerships. “I think that we, as churches, can get trapped in the mindset of needing to be missional in order to help church plants or missionaries who ‘need’ our help to survive. And while it is true that we need to provide prayer, financial and physical assistance, the truth is that the established church needs the church plant’s help as much if not more than they need ours,” he says.

This story originally appeared on and is used with permission of the South Carolina Baptist Convention.
MASHALLTOWN, Iowa (BP) — Southern Baptist Disaster Relief teams have begun cleanup work in Marshalltown, Iowa, following a devastating tornado July 19.

A Missouri Baptist Disaster Relief team arrived Tuesday to set up incident command at Iglesia Karios in Marshalltown. Chainsaw teams from Iowa have dispersed throughout the city to clear debris. An SBDR feeding team has prepared meals for recovery workers in the area.

Additional SBDR volunteers from Kansas-Nebraska and Florida already are on the ground in Marshalltown. Carlson, co-director of Iowa Baptist Disaster Relief, expects volunteers from other nearby states to arrive later this week and early next week. Teams from other states interested in providing assistance should contact their state disaster relief director.

“It looks like a war zone to tell you the truth,” Carlson said. “When you go downtown, you’ll see a lot of glass and brick everywhere.

“On the east part of town, there are about 10 blocks that are very heavily hit. There’s really not many trees standing. A lot of those homes aren’t livable,” Carlson said.

The EF-3 tornado injured at least 235 people in the town of 27,000 located 50 miles northeast of Des Moines. Carlson estimates that at least 100 homes were destroyed. Many more homes will take substantial work before people can return to live in them. Carlson believes it will take months, if not years, for Marshalltown to rebuild.

Some of the worst damage in Marshalltown came to the town’s courthouse and the brick buildings in the town square. In recent years officials and property owners had slowly worked to revamp the buildings, many of which are now destroyed. Jenny Etter, executive director of the Marshalltown Central Business District, estimates that the city had spent $50 million in building renovations since 2002.

A dozen or more tornadoes hit central Iowa last Thursday, according to the National Weather Service. The two biggest tornadoes, both rated EF-3, hit Marshalltown and Pella, with peak winds of 144 mph.

SBDR chaplains are also in Marshalltown to provide support and counsel to residents impacted by the tornado. Sam Porter, the North American Mission Board’s executive director of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, prays the SBDR response will provide volunteers opportunities to share the Gospel.

“[The] number one goal with disaster relief is to earn the right to share the Gospel,” Porter said. “We work with those impacted. We treat them with respect. We pray with them. When they ask the question, ‘What makes you do this for no charge?’ that’s when you’ve earned the right to share the Gospel.”

The Marshalltown tornado comes on the heels of the SBDR response to flooding in Des Moines, Iowa, where teams wrapped up work last week. Eight people came to faith last week during SBDR efforts in the capital city, Carlson said.

Porter and Carlson urge Southern Baptists to pray for Marshalltown and the rest of Central Iowa.

“Pray for all the people who live here,” Carlson said. “A lot of them lost their homes. They lost their cars. They lost their job. There is a lot of a need here.”

Tobin Perry is a writer for the North American Mission Board.,

Published February 1, 2019