By Jean Gordon
The Mississippi Conference of the
“It’s been documented that new churches are much more successful at bringing people to Christ than existing churches,” said the Rev. Embra Jackson, who is leading the conference’s effort.
Two of the churches will be “daughter” congregations of existing churches.
“All of the district superintendents agreed this was the place to plant because of all of the growth,”
The initiative aims to grow the United Methodist church, which like other mainline denominations faces a shrinking membership.
This year the Mississippi Conference closed eight mostly rural churches with dwindling or inactive congregations.
The three new churches expect to be up and running within six months to a year,
“The reason why we’re interested in going to south
Specific locations of the new churches have not been selected but may include storefronts or space rented from a school, church or commercial building.
“Our target is for this to be for folks who have not been part of a church community,” said the Rev. Jim Taylor, associate pastor of
The Pointe aims to create a casual atmosphere in which people feel comfortable in their shorts and flip-flops,
“The whole premise behind that is Christ meets us where we are,” he said.
The Rev. John Hugh Tate will lead the Lakeland Drive-area church, now called Metro Jackson.
He plans to drum up support for the new congregation through word of mouth and by speaking at other United Methodist churches.
Like Anderson South and The Pointe, the Metro Jackson church will be nontraditional.
“We’re not going to wear robes,” Tate said of the clergy. “We won’t have pews... a steeple and an altar.”
Though Tate, 32, admits starting a church takes the same work as opening a new business, the challenge appeals to him.
“This is a unique time,” he said. “We don’t have to do church as it’s always been done.”
This story first appeared in the June 25 issue of “The Clarion-Ledger” is used with permission.