Old and New: Seminary aids revitalization, church planting efforts in Baltimore
BALTIMORE, Md. (SWBTS) – A team of students from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary partnered with churches from Texas and Georgia, June 2-7, to help re-launch the oldest church in the state of Maryland and to lay groundwork for one of Baltimore’s newest churches. The efforts were in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) Crossover evangelism focus prior to its annual meeting in Baltimore, June 10-11.
Southwestern partnered with Northeast Houston Baptist Church (NEHBC) and Beech Haven Baptist Church of Athens, Ga., during the week. James Jordan, assistant pastor at NEHBC and a student at Southwestern, said the partnership was born out of the fruitful relationship developed through last year’s Crossover in Houston.
“There is much to be excited about when a seminary serves alongside a local church,” Jordan said.
“As a seminary student myself, we often hear the mantra that our SBC seminaries exist to assist and aid the local church. In addition to training the next generation of pastors and leaders for the local church, mission partnerships are a tangible way that seminaries can live out their mission of serving the local church.”
For three days, teams worked with Chestnut Ridge Baptist Church, which was established in the 1740s.
“God used us there to begin the work of reaching out to the community and establishing a presence there,” Jordan said. “A new church planter has taken over the congregation and is looking to see God breathe new life into that church by focusing on the Gospel and sound theology. We were glad to share the news with the community and engage in evangelistic conversations along the way.”
Although the Chestnut Ridge has experienced decline in recent years, the church, led by pastor Bill Wennersten, re-launched on June 1, 2014. Students visited approximately 750 homes in the area, yielding more than 100 gospel presentations.
“The area was very religiously diverse and the soil was hard, but God saved one person in this area, and the church will be following up with this gentleman,” said Brandon Kiesling, Southwestern’s coordinator for the week.
Later in the week, teams partnered with Fells Family Baptist Church, a church plant preparing to launch in the fall. Seeking to reach Baltimore’s Inner harbor, teams engaged residents in direct evangelism and promoted a Bible study lead by Fells Family’s pastor. As they shared, six people made professions of faith.
Of course, the team was not done yet. They attended a Baltimore Orioles baseball game at the end of the week, and a Southwestern student led a ballpark usher to Christ.