Redeemer Church Celebrates an Awesome Launch
One of the TAC’s newest churches had a big start with 377 attending the mid-October launch.
An exciting metamorphosis has been taking place in the Manvel/Pearland area of the South District. Superintendent Rev. Kip Gilts says it began three-and-a-half years ago when a number of members of Grace UMC met to talk about the future ministry in the Manvel mission field. “I remember some of the members stating they wanted more than anything to see a vibrant worshiping community meeting in their location and reaching out to their growing community,” he says. “They took some very bold steps to make that happen by voting to go into legacy status, by closing as a church and donating their building, land, and assets to the Annual Conference for the purpose of launching a new ministry on that site.”
According to Kip, Pearland FUMC then stepped up to help the new church start, now known as Redeemer Church. Adds Kip, “It was a huge leap of faith for both congregations and both voted to do it for kingdom purposes. God wanted something new to happen in this mission field and this path seemed to be the way.”
Under the guidance of FUMC Pearland, Rev. David Goran (a former missionary to Ukraine) was sent to lead the effort. “David, as the campus pastor of Redeemer, has provided extraordinary leadership in communicating the vision and building relationships in the community of Manvel and with the people of FUMC Pearland,” notes Kip. “Additionally, Rev. Keith Whitaker, the senior pastor of FUMC Pearland exercised great vision seeing what could be repurposed.”
Adds Kip, “Above all, God has taken the desire of two congregations -- and many leaders -- to serve a community in new ways and to create a new church that blew our socks off when it launched on October 16, 2016. I cannot wait to see what God has in store for both campuses in the months and years to come. I am so grateful for New Church Starts of the Texas Annual Conference for facilitating this conversation and coaching leaders toward success.”
Getting from There to Here
The path to the long-awaited new church launch in mid October (in the building that was formerly Grace UMC) started over a year ago for Rev. David Goran. He began with a launch team of about 30 volunteers from the FUMC Pearland campus who committed to develop a game plan and mobilize the moving parts. “We started renovating several buildings and adding a parking lot. The next step was to raise awareness of Redeemer last spring by hosting an Easter egg hunt and having other nonthreatening activities such as a water Olympics that allowed community members to visit our evolving Redeemer campus and get to know us,” he explains. “Underneath the public events, the core team began talking with neighbors and coworkers and inviting them to Redeemer activities.”
To get the word out to a wider audience, Redeemer conducted an aggressive Facebook campaign by boosting several content posts and recruiting the launch team to share the information to their respective audiences. Next, came the five “preview” services where the leaders and musicians worked out the details of worship planning and implementation.
While Redeemer’s publicity plan included social media and direct mail, the strategy primarily focused on working through personal relationships. “I would say 90% of our effort and result is from personal invitations,“ notes David, “which are highly effective and affordable.”
“We held a soft launch in early October – before the parking lot was even ready,” notes David, “and that helped us learn and correct some things based on the feedback of those that attended.”
On launch day, October 16th, 377 attended worship, bringing smiles to the faces of the team of volunteers, that has grown to almost 100. “Of course, we had some well wishers attending the first service, and some members of the Pearland campus curious about what was going on at Redeemer,” adds David, “but a good number of the visitors came as a result of our mailer, ad in the newspaper and intentional personal invitations.”
In November, Redeemer will host Dinner & Discussion events to help facilitate relationships since literally everyone is new. In addition, leaders are planning to partner with Neighbors in Action and to serve Thanksgiving meals to folks at the Port of Houston. They will also host an alternative gift market event featuring items made via fair trade vendors.
Rev. David learned he “needed every bit of a long runway to get all of this done in time for an October launch,” and he learned the beauty of “seeing God do a new thing” through this legacy church. “Methodists are in a unique position to do something like this, and it is a clear strength of our connection.” His favorite aspect of the process now that the moving parts are beginning to move in alignment, he says, “is seeing unconnected people on the fringe find this community and find their faith being enlivened again.”
FUMC Pearland Pastor Keith Whitaker agrees. “The outcome we’re hoping for is that people in the Manvel area will become Christ-followers and work to build the Kingdom of God on earth. This is our way of preparing the field so that seeds of faith will bear fruit. We are blessed to be able to step out in mission to reach the Manvel community. We are called by God to make the world a better place, and what better way than to give others the opportunity to worship and create a faith-family.”
Administrator and Contemporary Worship Leader Reggie Clemons adds, “Working with David and personally experiencing his passion for ministry and for the Gospel has been a great joy! Not only has our involvement in this new faith initiative helped to energize those FUMC Pearland members who are on the Launch Team, this effort has served to energize our entire congregation in a way that has been extraordinary.”-
Rev. Jeff Olive, Director of New Church Development, knows, “The start of Redeemer would not have been possible without the vision and hope of the legacy congregation seeing the best way to reach their community was by allowing a new congregation to be formed. Isaiah 11:1 tells us that Out of the stump of David's family will grow a shoot--yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root. Redeemer is a new branch springing forth from an old and faithful root. This model provides hope for new possibilities around the Annual Conference. My prayer is that more congregations would see this as a potential future to continue faithful ministry in their communities.”