A Passion for the "Mounds View Campus" Plants Urban Church!

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Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

Consider and be amazed. The passion to plant a Bethlehem campus in Mounds View is about to result in an urban church plant in St. Paul. That is, if the congregation approves on Wednesday evening, August 25. Let me explain.

Last April the church voted to move ahead with the purchase and funding of the Mounds View Campus. We bought it for $5.6 million and are now using it for prayer on Wednesday mornings at 6:30 and preparing to build it out for full use by next spring. We call our vision of campus multiplication, church planting, and global mercy Treasuring Christ Together. One of the most exciting parts of this vision is the decision by the church to give 10% of every TCT dollar to new Church Plants, and to give another 10% to the Global Diaconate (that is, global ministries of mercy among the poorest of the poor and those who are suffering).

Because of this decision the commitment to plant a campus in Mounds View has resulted by the end of July in $138,000 being available for church planning from TCT giving. The church approved a method for disbursing these funds. That method involves approval from the Associate Pastor for Strategic Mobilization and Church Planting (Kenny Stokes), the elders, and the congregation. Kenny and the Council of Elders are bringing the congregation a unanimously approved recommendation for disbursement of some of that money on August 25. Here’s the motion the elders approved and will bring to you.

Motion: That the elders [and now the congregation] authorize a monthly disbursement from the TCT Church Planting Fund of $2,300 ($27,600 annually) to Campus Crusade for Christ in support of Dwayne Gibbs in his urban church planting strategy for two years beginning September 1, 2004 and ending August 31, 2006.

Dwayne is an elder at Bethlehem. He works full time for the Fire Department in St. Paul. He has begun a ministry to urban young people called a SAY YES Center under the oversight of Here’s Life Inner City, the urban arm of Campus Crusade for Christ. He and his wife Mary have raised support through that ministry. With Bethlehem’s proposed contribution their family would be fully funded. Dwayne would, with this funding, resign from the Fire Department and give all his energy to the urban ministry he already has and to the dream of a church plant in St. Paul growing out of his present ministry there. He would also participate (at a pace suitable to his full-time ministry) in Track 2 of The Bethlehem Institute.

Dwayne would be accountable to John Sather (a member of Bethlehem) who leads Here’s Life Inner City and to Kenny Stokes who oversees the church-planting strategy of Bethlehem. The two-year commitment from the TCT/Church Planting Fund would be reviewed at the end of that period and could be extended as needed by the church in order to give the new church a sure footing.

To hear more, to ask questions, and to vote on this proposal, please come at 6:30 pm on Wednesday, August 25. It is a thrilling thing to me to see our passion to plant a campus in Mounds View unleashing an urban church plant in St. Paul. I hope this is the first fruits of decades of partnership between urban and suburban ministries at Bethlehem. God has been so merciful to us. No one but God foresaw how the TCT funding would accomplish so much. (Stay tuned for recommendations for disbursements in the Global Diaconate which are in process).

Besides voting on the disbursement of TCT Church Planting money, we will also vote on the affirmation of Peter Hedstrom and Rod Takata as elders (see their biography elsewhere in this STAR). And we will vote on the ministry licensure of Tim Tomlinson (which we will explain at the meeting). I look forward to acting with you on these important recommendations.

Pastor John