New church seeks to build spiritual leaders

1/15/2008

Special to the Advocate
In a space where people build stronger bodies, a new United Methodist church has begun trying to build stronger spirits.

Bellwether Church launched its Sunday worship service on Jan. 13 at the Courthouse Athletic Club on Lakeland Drive in Flowood.

The Rev. John Hugh Tate, pastor, has spent recent months building momentum through weekly worship services, raising prayer and financial support and planning for the Sunday morning launch. 

The effort began in informational meetings. “We wanted people to know who we were.  All we asked of anyone was prayer,” Tate said.

These meetings were in homes all across metro Jackson – in Hinds, Rankin and Madison counties.  “Our vision is to be a metro-Jackson church. Our location is based on that decision. It provides access to the metro area,” Tate said.

The name “Bellwether” was chosen because it means to lead. Its original meaning is the lead sheep of the flock. “My passion is raising leaders who go into the world. We want to raise bellwethers – leaders of the flock who follow the shepherd — and for the church to be a bellwether in the world,” Tate said.

The next step was Wednesday night worship services. At first the group worshipped in homes, then at the church’s office space. “Our core team grew to more than 60 people. We worshipped, there was a message on a core values and we took communion each week,” Tate said.

Starting a church from scratch, Bellwether needed a location and equipment. The Courthouse allowed the church to use its facility for Sunday worship.

“It’s a great spot,” Tate said. “It can seat up to 500 people, so there’s plenty of room to grow.” 

Bellwether used Portable Church Industries, a national church consultant, to get equipment for music, multimedia, children’s, hospitality, staging, chairs and signs.  “They’ve helped us tremendously, providing a plan for our worship space and getting the most use out of the Courthouse’s built-in nursery and child-care,” Tate said.

The Mississippi Conference has also helped – providing financial support and purchasing a trailer for Bellwether  to load and unload its equipment. Eventually, other church plants will use the trailer as they start in coming years.

“God has blessed us. It’s amazing to see his hand as he’s provided our every need,” Tate said. “Now, we want to raise leaders who raise his kingdom in metro Jackson and around the world.” 

For information about Bellwether, contact Tate at jhtate1@comcast.net.