Hundreds show up for opening of newest church in mountain region

Posted

ISLAND CREEK, Ky. (KT) – The jam-packed parking lot tells the story of the yearning for a new church in this rural Appalachian community.

 

Cars, SUVs and pickup trucks covered the parking lot and spilled onto the lawn outside the newly opened Creekside Church. Inside, 266 people crammed into every available seat for the inaugural worship service last Sunday.

 

“There was standing room only,” said Pastor Jason Johnson. “Some were praying for 100 people, but I prayed for 200, which would fill all the permanent seats in the worship area. Just 15 minutes before the service, our team began bringing out additional chairs.”

 

Creekside, as a new church plant being sponsored by Pikeville First Baptist Church, is one of a series of new congregations planned for Kentucky’s mountain region, where surveys suggested that as many as 90 percent of the people in some communities don’t regularly attend worship services.

 

“Eastern Kentucky is a crucial place for church planting because of the 359,000 people who do not attend any church anywhere on Sunday mornings,” said Todd Gray, evangelism team leader for the Kentucky Baptist Convention. “East Kentucky has a greater population than West Kentucky and a greater land mass, yet it has half as many churches.”

 

Gray said the Kentucky Baptist Convention is encouraging its 2,400 churches to help with new startups across the state.

 

“Because the Kentucky Baptist Convention was created by churches to help churches reach the state and the world for Christ, our job is to stimulate the culture for church planting and then support the effort,” Gray said. “The church planting department seeks to partially fund and fully support church planters who wish to plant Baptist churches in Kentucky.”

 

Gray said the Kentucky Baptist Convention is at all times working with 50 to 55 church planters across the state, providing training as well as $20,000 over three years to each one to help with costs.

 

“I see Creekside Church as having potential to have a great impact in the Island Creek community and even farther into Pike County,” Gray said. “Their planting pastor is from the area and well connected in the county. There are many Baptists followers of Jesus pulling for, praying for, and encouraging Jason and Creekside Church. The people in the region want this church to succeed and will work together to see that happen.”

 

Jason Lowe, director of missions in the Pike Association of Baptists, said a mission church that had been in the building for nearly 40 years had been struggling in recent years and eventually closed.

 

Lowe said he and First Baptist Church Pastor John Lucas had been praying about what should be done with the mission. That’s when Johnson showed up to tell them he was feeling led to plant a church in Pike County. They saw Johnson as an answer to prayer.

 

“It brought tears to my eyes and to many members of the launch team to see a standing room only crowd on Sunday,” Lowe said. “I sense that God is on the move in eastern Kentucky.  We are beginning to see the early signs of a spiritual movement in the region, and the launch of Creekside Church is another sign of that movement.”

 

Lowe said Creekside is the first Southern Baptist church planted in Pike County in nearly 20 years.

Pikeville First Baptist church has planted six to eight churches in its 113 years of existence, but none in recent years.


“I found records in our church history that show at one time in the late 1960's First Baptist Church had four church planting efforts, then known as mission churches, under our umbrella of support at the same time,” Pastor John Lucas said. “Three of those churches are now thriving in East Kentucky. Plus, churches that we planted have since planted other churches. So, the idea of launching a new church simply meant showing how we are returning to our roots.”


Lucas said he wants to see more churches planted in the mountain region.

“I was born and raised in these mountains,” he said. “I left and then came back because I believe this place is ripe for a harvest, but desperate for laborers. I am passionate to not only strengthen existing churches, but to mobilize and empower our people to plant indigenous churches in every community.”


Lucas said he expects Creekside Church to be not just viable but strong.


“The excitement is like nothing I've ever experienced in ministry,” he said. 


Cars, SUVs and pickup trucks covered the parking lot and spilled onto the lawn outside the newly opened Creekside Church. Inside, 266 people crammed into every available seat for the inaugural worship service last Sunday.


“There was standing room only,” said Pastor Jason Johnson. “Some were praying for 100 people, but I prayed for 200, which would fill all the permanent seats in the worship area. Just 15 minutes before the service, our team began bringing out additional chairs.”

Creekside, as a new church plant being sponsored by Pikeville First Baptist Church, is one of a series of new congregations planned for Kentucky’s mountain region, where surveys suggested that as many as 90 percent of the people in some communities don’t regularly attend worship services.

“Eastern Kentucky is a crucial place for church planting because of the 359,000 people who do not attend any church anywhere on Sunday mornings,” said Todd Gray, evangelism team leader for the Kentucky Baptist Convention. “East Kentucky has a greater population than West Kentucky and a greater land mass, yet it has half as many churches.”

Gray said the Kentucky Baptist Convention is encouraging its 2,400 churches to help with new startups across the state.

“Because the Kentucky Baptist Convention was created by churches to help churches reach the state and the world for Christ, our job is to stimulate the culture for church planting and then support the effort,” Gray said. “The church planting department seeks to partially fund and fully support church planters who wish to plant Baptist churches in Kentucky.”

Gray said the Kentucky Baptist Convention is at all times working with 50 to 55 church planters across the state, providing training as well as $20,000 over three years to each one to help with costs.

“I see Creekside Church as having potential to have a great impact in the Island Creek community and even farther into Pike County,” Gray said. “Their planting pastor is from the area and well connected in the county. There are many Baptists followers of Jesus pulling for, praying for, and encouraging Jason and Creekside Church. The people in the region want this church to succeed and will work together to see that happen.”

Lowe said a mission church that had been in the building for nearly 40 years had been struggling in recent years and eventually closed.

Lowe said he and First Baptist Church Pastor John Lucas had been praying about what should be done with the mission. That’s when Johnson showed up to tell them he was feeling led to plant a church in Pike County. They saw Johnson as an answer to prayer.

“It brought tears to my eyes and to many members of the launch team to see a standing room only crowd on Sunday,” Lowe said. “I sense that God is on the move in eastern Kentucky. We are beginning to see the early signs of a spiritual movement in the region, and the launch of Creekside Church is another sign of that movement.”

Lowe said Creekside is the first Southern Baptist church planted in Pike County in nearly 20 years.

Pikeville First Baptist church has planted six to eight churches in its 113 years of existence, but none in recent years.

“I found records in our church history that show at one time in the late 1960's First Baptist Church had four church planting efforts, then known as mission churches, under our umbrella of support at the same time,” Pastor John Lucas said. “Three of those churches are now thriving in East Kentucky. Plus, churches that we planted have since planted other churches. So, the idea of launching a new church simply meant showing how we are returning to our roots.”
Lucas said he wants to see more churches planted in the mountain region.

“I was born and raised in these mountains,” he said. “I left and then came back because I believe this place is ripe for a harvest, but desperate for laborers. I am passionate to not only strengthen existing churches, but to mobilize and empower our people to plant indigenous churches in every community.”

Lucas said he expects Creekside Church to be not just viable but strong.

“The excitement is like nothing I've ever experienced in ministry,” he said.

Comments

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment

Powered by Creative Circle Media Solutions