Charleston Church Plant

A New Church in An Old City Christ Church Presbyterian, Charleston, SC by Rev. Dr. Jon D. Payne February 11, 2013 Dear brothers and sisters in Christ at Second Presbyterian Church, it is a delight and privilege to partner with you in a new and exciting PCA church plant in Charleston, South Carolina. Rev. Philipps, Mr. Mel Duncan and your session of elders have been a significant source of encouragement over this past year as we’ve sought to determine the Lord’s will for our lives and ministry. Thus, we are very grateful to partner with Second in this new Reformed church plant for the glory of God and the extension of Christ’s kingdom. The following is a brief update on our future work. Let me begin with some information about our background as it relates to the South Carolina Lowcountry.  More than just a beautiful city, Charleston has been a profound point of interest for my wife Marla and me.  Marla, a Hartsville, S.C. native, lived in the historic district of Charleston for over eight years! She graduated from the College of Charleston in 1993 (B.A. English) and the Medical University of South Carolina in 1997 (B.A., M.A. Health Sciences and Physical Therapy).  Moreover, two of Marla’s brothers graduated from the Citadel, one also graduating from MUSC.  As a graduate of Clemson University (B.A. 1993), I played for the Charleston Battery in 1997, a popular professional soccer team in Charleston. It was during my stint with the Battery that I met my wife Marla (on the second row) at church in Mount Pleasant, S.C.  We continue to have some wonderful friends, acquaintances, and contacts in Charleston, and are looking forward to planting a new Reformed church in an area we know and dearly love.  Perhaps like some of you, for many years we have had a growing sense of the need in Charleston for a new Reformed church that is warm, vibrant, missions-minded, and conscientiously Reformed and confessional; a church that is serious about the means of grace (expository preaching, sacraments and prayer), children’s catechesis, evangelism, disciple-making, world missions, and church planting–– a church like Second Presbyterian Greenville! In Charleston County alone, the largest county in SC, there are over 350,000 people, with only about 500 attending PCA churches. There is clearly much work to do. The harvest is plentiful! Like her sister cities of Columbia and Greenville, Charleston is a large and rapidly growing area that is ripe for a new distinctively Reformed and confessional work. Both Columbia and Greenville, I believe, each have more than twice the number of PCA churches than Charleston does. There are thousands of unchurched (and under-churched) people that need to be reached with the gospel in this strategic location.     Due to its strategic location, a church plant in Charleston has enormous potential in terms of healthy growth and widespread impact, both in the Lowcountry and around the world.  The College of Charleston, MUSC, Charleston Law School, The Citadel, Charleston Southern University, professional sports teams, Boeing Airlines, the rich Reformed ecclesiastical heritage, and the world renown tourist industry make Charleston a prime location for a joyfully reverent ministry – a ministry where Reformed worship, faithful pastoral/shepherding care, leadership development (ruling elders and future ministers), disciple-making, diaconal ministry, and a passion for the lost, both home and abroad, are part of the core purpose and vision.  In addition, a church with a big vision for ministry in Charleston could potentially have a widespread impact through church planting, conferences, publishing, and theological education. For the past ten years I have been privileged to serve a wonderful and growing church in Douglasville, Georgia (West Atlanta). We are so thankful for what God has done at Grace Presbyterian. Nevertheless, Marla and I have strongly sensed God preparing us (and GPC) for the next chapter of our lives.  Through much prayer and counsel with friends in ministry (not least your pastor - and my dear friend - Rick Philipps who first challenged me with this idea about a year ago), we have received large amounts of confirmation, support, and encouragement to move forward with this work. The final confirmation came when the Palmetto Presbytery unanimously approved the church plant (subject to my transfer exam) on January 24th, 2013. Where do we go from here? Our transition from Grace Presbyterian Church will begin on May 15th. We plan on moving to Charleston towards the end of May, and launching the ministry in the beginning of June. In the meantime we will have an informational meeting in Charleston on Monday, March 25th at 7:00 p.m. at the South Carolina Society Hall (72 Meeting Street). At this meeting we hope to meet several families and individuals who might be interested in joining our core group (a small core group of families already exists). The following night, on Tuesday, March 26th at 7:00 p.m., we will have a Bible Study Fellowship in the home of a core group family. There will be further dates/meetings to follow. Dear friends at SPC, perhaps you are wondering how you can help? 1) Please pray. Remember our work during your prayer meetings, public worship, family prayer, and private prayers. Apart from Christ, we can do nothing. Unless the Lord builds the house, we labor in vain. Pray for the preaching of the Word. Pray for the lost and under-churched. Pray for a gifted musician to assist us in worship. Pray for further financial support as we are still in need of 3-5 year pledges. Pray for Ross and Joanna Hodges, a very gifted couple who are graduating from Westminster Seminary California in May and joining our work in Charleston in June. They are also currently raising support. 2) Spread the word! Perhaps you know of friends, family members, or acquaintances in the Charleston area who might be interested in a church plant with the same ministry philosophy as Second Presbyterian. If so, please let them know of our plans. Also, please take a moment to share the details of our work on your Facebook, Twitter, and blog pages. We want to get the word out -- especially about the Monday, March 25th informational/introductory meeting at 7:00 p.m. at the South Carolina Society Hall (72 Meeting St.). Friends at Second, I thank God for your church’s generous support and gospel partnership in this large kingdom undertaking. Thank you for your prayers as the Payne family (Jon, Marla, Mary Hannah (9) and Hans (7)) make this big transition in life and ministry. We are excited to see our Lord create something from nothing through the proclamation of His powerful, life-giving, efficacious Word. Please feel free to give my contact information to any who might be interested in the work. My email is For Christ and His Kingdom, Jon

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