Thursday, November 1, 2018

Church Plant in the Larsen Community

Several years ago, Southside Baptist Church adopted the 2020 Vision Plan. This document has served as our road map in several critical areas, including reshaping our governance, clarifying our statement of beliefs, and affirming our mission to reach the lost in Jacksonville and around the world. One of the goals outlined is that we will “plant churches to meet the needs of specific cultures and language groups that God brings into our community.” I specifically challenged our congregation to plant five new churches by the year 2020.

By God’s grace, Southside has already served as the sending church for two new churches in Jacksonville -- Southside Karen Baptist Church (2012) and The City Church (2015). In addition, we are supporting church plants in Toronto, Canada (Hamilton Fellowship) and Orlando (Grace Alive Church). Because of your generosity and commitment to the Gospel, Southside is continuing to make a huge impact for the Kingdom through church planting.

We have also been involved on the other end of two churches’ lifecycles. In 2017 we assumed the property of the Silver Glyn Baptist Church in Arlington which now serves as the home of Southside Karen Baptist Church. In 2009, we acquired the property of the Paul Avenue Baptist Church in the Larsen community. For several years now, we have used this property to operate the Larsen Outreach Center. We have ministered to the residents of Larsen by offering Bible studies, recovery groups, clinics, food distribution, Backyard Bible Clubs, and various other ministries. We also played an integral role in getting clean potable water into this long-forgotten neighborhood. While these ministry efforts have been positive, it has been a challenge to connect the residents of Larsen with the church and ultimately with the Gospel without a physical church presence in the community.

Meanwhile, one of our daughter churches from the 1950’s, San Jose Baptist Church, has also been faithfully building the Kingdom through church planting. One of San Jose’s efforts has been to establish a house church in the Englewood community called Immersion Fellowship. This new work began in January of this year and within a few short months has already outgrown the house of their pastor, Ted Corby. Since Englewood and Larsen are so close in proximity, a conversation started between Ted, San Jose Baptist, and Southside about the possibility of partnering to expand the ministry of Immersion Fellowship into the Larsen community while offering them a facility in which to continue their ministry. 

We have developed a Church Sending Agreement that would bring Immersion Fellowship under the umbrella of Southside Baptist Church. As part of this agreement, Immersion would move to the Larsen Outreach Center and help us continue to reach the residents of Larsen with the Gospel. We will vote to adopt this agreement at our Annual Church Members Meeting on Sunday, November 18, at 10:30 a.m. I will have the pleasure of introducing Ted and Marie Corby to you this Sunday, November 4, at 11 a.m,. during this week’s ministry moment. Please join me in praying for Immersion Fellowship and the residents of the Larsen community as together we seek to build the Kingdom across the street and around the world.