By Shannon Baker, BCM/D National Correspondent
BEAR, Del.—EverSpring Church, a church that launched on Jan. 9 in Bear, Del., is the 1,000th church in the history of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware (BCM/D). It is also the first church launched through the Embrace Wilmington focus.
In January 2010, a team of people began to gather, pray and dream about beginning a new church in the Wilmington suburb.
In July 2010, EverSpring Church began preview services in a 3,000-square-foot warehouse, which had no air conditioning and no bathrooms. Beginning with the public launch, the church now meets at the Boys & Girls Club facility, located on Rte. 40.
Lead Pastor John Coleman is a native Delawarean who is realizing a 20-year dream to pastor near his roots.
“I can’t tell you how psyched I am to be able to share Christ’s message of hope with my hometown,” he says. “I have dreamed of starting a church in Delaware that would connect with people who normally avoid church.”
He answered a first-timer’s question about why he wanted to start another church: “We weren’t out to start another church, but a different one.”
To explain, he said that he seeks to lead a church that has an intentional conversational, casual, café-style atmosphere that doesn’t hold back on the truth.
Around 90 people gathered for the first official service, in which Pastor John spoke from John 4 about the Samaritan woman, to whom Jesus became an “EverSpring.”
Mitch Dowell, Embrace Wilmington’s executive director, was there to celebrate the church launch, which featured a free café, children’s ministry and worship in the club’s gymnasium.
“I am excited to see our first official church launch of Embrace Wilmington,” Dowell said, noting that it has been great to partner with EverSpring since its beginnings.
David Jackson, BCM/D missionary for church multiplication, also attended the historic 1,000th church occasion.
In fact, over the past 175 years, over 1,000 churches either affiliated with or were planted through the BCM/D, he shared.
It all started in October 1836, when six churches in Maryland and one in the District of Columbia organized at First Church, Baltimore, to form the Maryland Baptist Union Association (MBUA), the precursor to the BCM/D, said Jackson, pointing to research that was published in “You Are A Great People” by W. Loyd Allen.
The MBUA was formed to “advance the cause of true religion in Maryland and that part of the District of Columbia north of the Potomac.”
MBUA became the Baptist Convention of Maryland in 1960 and then the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware in 1984.
The first recorded church plants since the incorporation of the MBUA included Gunpowder, Hereford and Forest Churches.
Twelve decades later, with the joining of Bethany Church in 1956, Delaware had its first church plant, “sponsoring several missions including Ogletown.”
Since Jackson began working at the BCM/D, over 300 new churches have joined the Convention, with most coming as new church plants.
“In 2010, we planted 34 new congregations across our Convention, closing this last decade as the most prolific in the church-planting history of the BCM/D. Over the past ten years alone, we have started well over 250 churches!” Jackson said, sharing that the diversity of churches has also grown.
Today, BCM/D churches worship in more than 20 languages, most recently including Burmese Chin, Japanese, Swahili and Cambodian, every weekend.
Several churches were started during the recent Embrace Baltimore initiative, which points back to the Baptist roots in the city.
“It’s significant that a Convention that started with the focus on the Baltimore area hits 1,000 churches during the focus in the Wilmington area,” Jackson said. “It just shows you that urban ministry was important from the beginning.”
Jackson is also quick to note that churches have lifecycles, which accounts for why there are 548 churches presently affiliated with the Convention.
Over the course of time, some of the earlier churches completed their lifecycles or merged together to form new churches, he said.
“All churches have a lifecycle; some are shorter than others. The goal is to accomplish all that God has put the church there to accomplish.” Jackson said.
“It is our desire to come alongside these churches and assist them in fulfilling their purpose.”