On a cool December morning in 2019, I was sitting in a coffee shop when I decided to “test drive” the potential name of our church plant. I mentioned the
name that had been floating through my mind for a few weeks—Good
Samaritan Anglican Church—to an unchurched barista. Immediately, she responded, “You mean, like, the character in the Bible who serves and takes care of his neighbors?” For me, that was confirmation that our name resonated in the community, as a “neighborly” church.
Ten months prior, 27 people from St. Paul’s, Summerville, had knelt at the communion rail and received the laying on of hands in prayer from their congregation and clergy. These 10 adults and 17 children were being sent out to pray and discern whether God was calling St. Paul’s to plant another church.
The next Sunday, this group prayed and worshipped in a living room together, heard from the Word of God, shared in the sacrament of His body and blood, and began the process of discernment.
Our worship in these early gatherings was followed by a time of prayer and brainstorming. We asked big picture questions about the church and her ministry in the community; we wanted to know who we are, who our neighbors are, and what the Gospel might have to say through our particular church
to these particular neighbors. We also sought to understand our community, taking to the streets, local coffee shops, and playgrounds to get to know our neighbors personally, and exploring the physical spaces that have drawn them to these communities.
We learned that people long for good neighbors. This desire for neighborly values led us to our name and laid the foundation for our church’s culture.
St. Paul’s, Summerville, has a history of planting churches. In 1979, St. Paul’s planted its first church, St. George’s, among the growing subdivisions on Dorchester Road. Thirty-six years later, a second team was sent out to plant St. Timothy’s in the growing Cane Bay area of Summerville. With this church planting history, it was only natural for the people of St. Paul’s to discern the Lord’s will regarding the next church plant.
To have been sent from a “mother” church with a commitment to church planting has been a great gift to Good Samaritan, and provided us with great confidence and encouragement. Planting a church in this manner requires vision, sacrifice, and patience—three things that the congregation of St. Paul’s has shown in abundance.
A sending church’s vision for planting churches does not come to fruition without sacrifice. On one hand, there is the sacrifice of financial support. There is also personnel sacrifice, sending faithful congregants (many of whom are natural leaders) out on mission for the sake of the Gospel. Additionally, a fruitful church planting vision requires patience. Church plants take time to develop; church planters make mistakes and plans change constantly. All of this requires patient mother church support! Led by their rector, the Rev. Tripp Jeffords, and vestry, St. Paul’s has been quick to encourage, provide, and pray constantly for Good Samaritan. They have been faithful friends thorough all of our initial challenges.
As 2021 progresses and, God willing, we all emerge from our pandemic bubbles, Good Samaritan seeks to more fully articulate her vision, and more fully embody the Gospel in our community. We hope to be a church of good neighbors; having received the mercy of Jesus ourselves, we hope to share mercy generously with our neighbors. And, while our “church” events will certainly include Sunday worship, Bible studies, and small groups, we will also be the Church at local PTA meetings, soccer practice, cookouts, and other neighborhood events. It is at these everyday events, where the Church and the world gather together, that we have the greatest opportunity to embrace our call to follow the true Good Samaritan, Jesus, and share the mercy of God with a world in need.
By The Rev. Tyler Prescott, Good Samaritan Anglican Church, Summerville