Tuesday, February 8, 2011

We are Brothers!

Pastor JP Bohanan with Pastor Kevin Polite of the Salvar El Alma ministry, a bilingual ministry that will begin worshiping at Bethany on Sunday afternoons. We made introductions at our Open House celebration, demonstrated bilingual interpretation, and prayed blessing prayers for each other's ministries.  I also shared the story of "We are Brethren" (one of our stained glass windows, adapted from Wikipedia):

In 1767, Otterbein was present at a worship service in Long’s Barn near Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Martin Boehm, a Mennonite who had been born in Lancaster, preached, and after the service Otterbein came forward and greeted Boehm with words that became famous in United Brethren tradition: "Wir sind Brűuder" (We are brothers). From that day forward they had a close working relationship. Norwood comments that "They were an interesting pair: Otterbein the stately university-trained minister and Boehm the Mennonite farmer with a full beard."  (The United Brethren merged with the Evangelicals in the 1940s, and then with the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1968 to form The United Methodist Church.)

The 23 Jan council announcement follows the jump.

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

-Matthew 28: 16-20

I’m sure that you recognize Bethany’s mission statement within these verses of Matthew Chapter 28. In the spirit of making more disciples for Jesus Christ, we’ve enjoyed the wonderful experience of partnership with Violet Hill Church over the past year. Just a few months ago, we were approached with a new opportunity to partner and witness that we’d like to share with you. In October, we greeted a visitor after one of our worship services. He asked to meet Pastor JP. This meeting led to the new opportunity.

The visitor was Pastor Kevin Polite. The opportunity is to open our doors to a church plant in our own neighborhood – a bilingual (English-Spanish) ministry of the Assemblies of God. After much prayer, two months of discussions in council meetings, and a meeting with their pastor, youth leader, and worship leader, your Church Council has decided to open our doors.

Pastor Kevin Polite has served in a variety of ministries, including worship leadership in a United Methodist Church. He also served in the U.S. Army. The young men on his team are passionate about Jesus and about saving souls. Their ministry name, Salvar El Alma, means “Save the Soul” in English. Their worship services will be bilingual, not Spanish only, and they hope to reach a diverse group with the gospel. They have a passion for spreading the good news of Jesus Christ and they have big, sincere dreams for their ministry. Our face-to-face meeting with Kevin and his team directly impacted our decision to open our doors. Soon you will all have the opportunity to meet their leaders as well.

While we have approved opening our doors to their ministry, we don’t have all the details worked out yet – including a start date. Ultimately, our agreement will be designed to protect the integrity of our ministry and identity as Bethany Church, while providing Salvar El Alma with the opportunity to pursue their unique vision and to make disciples for Jesus with effectiveness. We have consulted with our District Superintendent, Rev. Mark Webb regarding this opportunity and we’ve followed his guidance. On the practical side of our agreement, we feel that it’s important for everyone to know that Salvar El Alma will be providing their own insurance and complying with our Safe Sanctuaries policy. They will also be paying a monthly fee for use of our space. Please understand that we don’t view this as simply a contractual agreement between two groups but rather an opportunity for sharing, witnessing, reaching out to the community, and growing ministries.

At the present time, the Salvar El Alma congregation meets in a member’s living room. They’re looking for a larger, temporary home where grandparents, parents, children, and friends can worship together and where their congregation has room to grow. The plan is for them to use Bethany’s Gathering Place for worship on Sunday afternoons and a Gathering Place classroom for a midweek Bible study. Again, the details are not finalized, but we will keep you informed along the way as final arrangements are made.

Our hope is to develop a relationship that is a blessing to both groups. We are grateful for this opportunity to support another ministry, we are excited about the possible ways we could share together in ministry (such as in VBS, youth ministries, etc.), and we are praying that this will bring glory to Jesus and save many souls. Like the partnership with Violet Hill, this was an opportunity that we believe God brought to us and that we cannot turn away.

Please pray for the Salvar El Alma ministry and pray for Bethany Church as we continue our mission to “make more disciples for Jesus Christ”.

Thank you!
Your Church Council

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