From the 100 applications received for the inaugural Equipping the Local Church Grant Cycle, The Foundation for Evangelism has selected 31 projects to receive grants totaling $230,000. Recipients will be announced publicly in June after all have been notified.Continue reading
Jorge Acevedo received an award from the FFE in 2009 – and the relationship has only grown since then. In addition to leading his church, he is a ministry coach, trainer and writer, but the story doesn’t end there.Continue reading
By Terri Farmer
Brittany Wooten is a 2014 graduate of Methodist Theological School in Ohio. She remembers taking evangelism courses taught by E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism, Dr. Joon Sik Park.
“A good portion of my understanding [of evangelism] came from those courses because I have always heard evangelism addressed through a very conservative, evangelical background…. He made evangelism, not something that was mandatory to be a Christian but, something that was joyously taught as a person. So, he humanized evangelism in a way that wasn’t … a moral mandate, and he changed it into a human joy.”
Following seminary, Brittany served in a combat arms battalion. “Evangelism for me was being present with the soldiers and being able to share the hope of the Gospel with them through action and through words. More times through action than it ever was through words.”
Now she is serving as an active-duty Army chaplain in the Pacific Northwest. Brittany admits most of the four hundred soldiers she interacts with have a negative connotation with the word “evangelism.” But she says evangelism is essential to her everyday ministry. “I think evangelism didn’t demand action from [the soldiers] in the way of converting or becoming ‘better’ people.” Instead, she says, through seeing her live her passion and calling,
they are challenged to invest in something meaningful for their own lives.
Brittany credits Dr. Joon Sik Park with helping her and others overcome tired notions to understand that evangelism is a part of a vital faith and ministry that invites people on the journey of faith in Jesus Christ.
Born in Hampton, VA, but nurtured in the First AME Zion Church in Knoxville, TN, where his grandfather was the organizing pastor, Darryl gave his life to Christ as a teenager and entered the ministry at age 17. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History from Livingstone College in Salisbury, NC, a Master of Divinity Degree from Hood Theological Seminary, in Salisbury, and a Doctor of Ministry Degree with a Concentration in Evangelism from Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, AL.
He has pastored eight churches in five states. In the last church, he was the organizing pastor. In 1996, he was elected the Director of the Bureau of Evangelism for The AME Zion Church, where he served for twelve years, until his election to the episcopacy in 2008. He has been an Adjunct Professor at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham and at Hood Theological Seminary in Salisbury. He is the presiding bishop of the Piedmont Episcopal District, which includes the Blue Ridge, West Central North Carolina, Western North Carolina, and Jamaica Conferences. He is chairman of the denomination’s Church Growth and Development Board, the Worship and Ritual Board, and the Board of Trustees of Hood Theological Seminary. He is the Secretary of Evangelism for the North American Section of World Methodist Evangelism and the North American Officer on the World Methodist Council Steering Committee. His books include Not Ashamed of the Gospel; An Evangelism Training Manuel; 21st Century Christians Under Construction: A Discipleship
Training Manuel; and For the Perfecting of the Saint: A Handbook on Small-Group Discipleship.
He is married to Sis. Camille Cullom Starnes, a minister of the gospel and the Missionary Supervisor for the Piedmont Episcopal District. They have three children and seven grandchildren.
By Barby Bowser
It was not long ago that Magnolia Avenue Church in Knoxville, Tenn., closed its doors. Rev. Rusty Taylor, director of Congregational Development and Revitalization for the Holston Conference of the UMC, struggled with whether to try and save this church with dwindling membership, a condemned building, in an economically challenged neighborhood. When COVID arrived, the building was shuttered and the few remaining members went elsewhere.
Thankfully, that’s not the end of this story. Rev. Taylor and others in the Holston Conference convinced Pastor Tim Jackson to take on the task of resurrecting the church about a year ago. “They were asking me to resurrect the Titanic from the bottom of the Atlantic with a hand-crank!” he jokingly said.
When Pastor Tim arrived, there was no church to speak of, but the surrounding community was desperate to hear God’s message of acceptance and hope. He knew he had to stay true to the mission of building disciples “by building relationships, pouring over them prayer, the Word and the sacraments. When you do that, radical things, transformation, is going to happen.”
He mentioned that Jay and Tammy, who live at the motel next door, weren’t connected to a local church when he knocked on their door one Sunday before the 5pm service (something he does every week). The two now attend three days a week. Jay always has a smile on his face – radiating the Joy of the Lord! Pastor Tim talks about others in the neighborhood – prostitutes, drug addicts, the lonely, the homeless – who have found a home at Magnolia Avenue Church. More than that, they’ve found a loving, forgiving God.
“The stories, they’re messy, but they’re beautiful stories. Everyone is welcome.”
At the weekly meal on Mondays, Pastor Tim shares a brief Bible Study and visits and prays with the 50-60 people who show up. His goal is to help people to really KNOW Jesus – to hear God’s word, study it, challenge them to apply it, and then share it. “We aren’t a ‘membership church.’ We are a covenant community”.
On a recent Sunday evening, Pastor Tim joyfully placed the Equipping the Local Church Grant check from The Foundation for Evangelism with gifts from two local donors in the offering plate, along with contributions from the service attendees. It’s rare that those attending the service can give much – and when they do, “it tends to be all that they have. They are truly ‘less fortunate’ because of the poverty that’s here.” He was excited by what God had provided.
“Thank you for being partners in this ministry,” Pastor Tim said at the close of our conversation. For the people serving and being served by Magnolia Avenue Church, the Equipping the Local Church Grant is a boost that will help them address the physical needs of the community while also introducing people to God’s love and inviting them to join the journey of faith in Jesus Christ.