by Daniel Housam
The story of North Valley Church (NVC) in Myersville, Maryland, a replant of Myersville Baptist Church (MBC), is a God-sized story with His fingerprints clearly all over it. I am blessed that God saw fit to give me a small role in that big plan.
I was the lead pastor of Summit Trace Church (STC) in Frederick for over 11 years. All was good, but several years ago, I had a nudge in my spirit that said I was not the best person to be leading STC. I shared my thoughts with my leadership team at the time and they were not received well. So, I stayed the course. I did not know it then, but God had plans way beyond my awareness, and this nudge was just one small piece of a larger picture that God was working on. And it would be in God’s timing.
In December 2018, STC moved from being a “portable church” to a permanent home in a commercial space. While the rent was more expensive, everyone saw God’s hands at work in opening doors to make it a financially viable move. We started worshipping there in March 2019 and it felt like home. We knowingly moved in the new place expecting to have a financial shortfall of nearly $10,000 — and that was with faith built into the budget. As we went into the spring, giving exceeded expectations and we were in the black. STC was in a new home and we were financially stable. Praise God!
Getting on the right bus
But then the nudge returned. As I surveyed STC, we were in a very healthy condition, and my associate pastor, Rob Downs, was exercising his leadership gifts. I felt he was ready to lead. Looking back, I can describe it using the leadership metaphor of a bus. I was on the wrong seat of the bus. Rob needed to be in my seat. Continuing the analogy, I was actually on the wrong bus. If I could get out of my seat and give it to Rob, other people would start moving around in their seats. Jesus was at the wheel of STC and ready to do some musical chairs. So, I stepped down from STC. This piece of God’s larger picture was in place. The new bus was MBC.
As pastor of STC, I made it a point to reach out to other pastors and church leaders and build relationships, friendships, and partnerships. MBC was one of those churches. STC helped MBC financially and assisted with ministries, and I helped fill the pulpit when the pastor, John Sumpter, who served the church for seven years, needed help. We were friends and got together regularly.
As I felt called to leave STC, I was also becoming aware something was going on at MBC. I heard they were not having a good summer. In fact, it seemed like they were on life support. Through the heroic efforts of Bruce Conley, the Blue Ridge Baptist Association’s director of missions, the church was surviving. I felt drawn to see if I could help and, in September, offered to preach. I quickly became a candidate for pastor. Bruce was thrilled.
God arranged the rest very quickly. Rob was ready to step into the lead pastor role at STC and there was a unanimous vote for me at MBC. All six members agreed to call me as pastor.
This is the piece that God knew about in His larger picture, which none of us could have ever expected to happen.
A faithful sending church
Praise God, I didn’t just leave STC: they sent me. They even opened the opportunity for families who wanted to transition with me to help replant with MBC, and they are continuing to support us financially. They are parenting this effort.
I invited the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware’s SEND Network Director Michael Crawford into the conversation about what to do for MBC. It started to look like the best next step for the church was to replant. After plenty of opportunities for questions, discussions, and healing for everyone involved, MBC voted to become NVC on November 17, 2019. We spent our initial season bringing the original MBC people and the STC Restart Team together. We were about 14 people who needed time to share stories and fellowship and to get to know each other.
As a group, we sat in a circle doing Bible study, praying, and excitedly implementing the 2020 strategy to grow into a healthy church.
But 2020 didn’t turn out the way we anticipated. In March, COVID-19 kicked in and everything changed. Like others around us, we had to navigate through the restrictions. God worked through the COVID-19 struggles. Several Christians discovered I was replanting Myersville and felt called to help. They began attending and serving, including my Executive Director, Grant Cregger.
When we had our first public service in June, we had 48 people, quadrupling our original group of a dozen.
We did a lot of outreach — providing Frederick Rescue Mission with supplies, starting a life skills small group, and helping local families. We also had a Trunk or Treat in October. In addition, we utilized Skycroft, which is very close to us, meeting outside and then eating boxed lunches and swimming. It has been an amazing ride.
One of our highlights is our children’s ministry. Almost one-third of our folks on Sundays are children. We renovated three rooms on the lower level, and they’ve already outgrown them. Now we’re moving on to a fourth room.
People are having a good time. And folks are getting saved and growing in the Lord. We’ve had four baptisms so far. The church has been blessed immensely.
We have been relying on partnerships with various churches, organizations, and people to accomplish what we believed God was calling us to do. Those partners have been fueling our work through their prayers, participation, and provision. Our replant partners are another piece of the picture God had been working on to bring NVC to fruition.
It also never ceases to humble me to know that I am standing on the shoulders of the saints of MBC. We are preserving their spiritual heritage as NVC moves forward.
I am blessed that God saw fit to give me a small role in that big plan. As I work through this season with NVC, I wonder how many other churches might be ready to benefit from replant or revitalization work. My prayer is that more churches and pastors dare to prayerfully ask God what the best next step is. God may have a big plan that you cannot see from where you are. Our only option is to seek God and obediently do our part.
He puts the pieces together for His bigger picture.
Dan Housam is the lead pastor of North Valley Church in Myersville, Maryland.
Part of this story is adapted from an article that previously appeared in the Blue Ridge Baptist Association’s newsletter.