Christ Church: A Grateful Report of 2014
A Growing Congregation
Christ Church launched on Lord’s Day, June 9, 2013. We continued to meet for weekly Lord’s Day evening worship during the summer months at First Scots Presbyterian’s historic chapel in downtown Charleston. Our average attendance was around 80-90. After renting space for the next two months at St. Johannes Lutheran Church on Hassel Street, there was a strong desire to have both Lord’s Day morning and evening worship, establishing a healthy biblical pattern of congregational discipleship. Since, after much effort, we could not secure morning worship space downtown, we entered into a lease agreement with Moultrie Middle School in the Old Village of Mount Pleasant–– a well-situated, strategic, and attractive location on Coleman Blvd just minutes from the Cooper River Bridge. Our morning worship service has grown to an attendance of 170-180 and evening worship is currently at 60-80. Our current membership is 120 with several families planning to take the inquires’ class in January. We thank God for the way that He is growing our church with scores of young families and students, and many older believers as well–– a wonderful blend of youthful zeal and godly wisdom. God is bringing people from every conceivable background to Christ Church, and few come from a solid Reformed tradition. We also give praise to God that over the last three months we have welcomed three new babies, and five more are on the way!
The Missionary Task: Making Disciples
At Christ Church we are seeking to carry out our Lord’s mandate to "make disciples" through the means of grace (Mt. 28:18-20; Acts 2:42; WLC Q. 154). The most concentrated discipleship occurs on the Lord’s Day, when our covenant keeping God meets with His gathered church to nourish and comfort our faith through Christ’s appointed means of Word and sacrament. I am presently preaching through the Gospel of Luke and the prophet Joel. Our newly ordained assistant pastor, Ross Hodges, is preaching through the book of Ruth. We give praise to God that we have had several covenant baptisms this past year as well.
In addition to our rich Lord’s Day worship services, we have several men’s and women’s Bible studies. Our weekly men’s Bible study meets at a local bakery every Thursday at 6:30 a.m. and averages 10-15. After completing a year-long study on the book of Acts, I am now leading the men through J.I. Packer’s classic work, Knowing God. In addition, we recently commenced a six month men’s leadership training course which meets every other Monday night in order to provide Christ Church men with godly training in theology, leadership, and piety. Over 30 men are participating in the course! We are reading books on godly leadership, the Westminster Confession, the Church, and historic Calvinism. The response to the course has been tremendous.
The women of Christ Church are also eager to study God’s Word during the week. They meet monthly in different homes for Bible study and fellowship. Mrs. Joanna Hodges is leading a study on Ephesians. Each participant has a copy of Let’s Study Ephesians by Sinclair Ferguson. There is also a weekly women’s Bible study that recently completed a study on prayer and is now moving through the book of Jonah. Due to the abundance of young moms at Christ Church, a new fellowship for young moms will also be starting next month.
Ordination Service: Rev. Ross Hodges
On Lord’s Day, November 16th, in our evening service, Rev. Ross Hodges was set apart by “the laying on of hands” to the gospel ministry. It has been a joy to watch Ross’s progress in the faith and in the ministry. He and Joanna have been integral to the planting of Christ Church and we thank God for them. Seven elders from six different PCA churches (three of them local) participated in Ross’s commission. As assistant pastor of Christ Church, Ross will continue to serve in his important role of campus discipleship–– along with his myriad other duties. Ross' ordination sermon: The Faithful Minister: Keeping Watch Over Himself and the Doctrine (I Tim. 4:12-16) may be accessed on our website.
MUSC & Friends Bible Fellowship
Every week an average of 10-20 students from the Medical University of South Carolina, the Citadel, the College of Charleston, et al., gather at the Hodges’ home to eat dinner or snacks and study Paul’s letter to the Galatians. This growing group of godly and energetic students has been one of the highlights of the church plant!
Mission and Outreach
What is the mission of the Church? The mission of the Church is to “go and make disciples of all nations” through the proclamation of the gospel. The ongoing, lifelong process of Christian discipleship is best realized in the context of a biblical church (Acts 2:42). This is precisely why we see the first century apostles preaching God’s Word, appointing elders, and planting churches. Church planting is without a doubt the most faithful expression of the Great Commission (Mt. 28:18-20). With Christ’s precious promises of authority and presence sandwiching the imperatives to “go, make disciples, baptize, and teach,” we carry out the Great Commission with bold faith and joyful confidence.
Over the past eighteen months the Lord has worked mightily through his Word, Spirit, and mysterious providence to establish Christ Church Presbyterian. Seeking to carry out our Lord’s commission, we are laboring in the strength of Christ to “make disciples” who want to glorify God through their vocations, and thus be witnesses of God’s truth and grace in the Charleston community and around the world. Our congregation is constituted of teachers, physicians, students, therapists, homemakers, real estate agents, musicians, university professors, artists, mechanics, military officers, an inventor, engineers, and many others. In numerous spheres of society and culture Christ Church’s members are “shining as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life” and reaching out to their friends and colleagues with the good news that Christ died for sinners (Phil. 2:16; Rom. 5:8). We experience a regular stream of new visitors to Christ Church from all different religious and cultural backgrounds.
In late October I had the privilege of visiting two EPCEW church plants in Northern England, one in Newcastle/Gateshead and the other in the market town of Hexham. It was a joy to preach God’s Word to Gateshead Presbyterian Church and Hexham Presbyterian Church, and to encourage them in their gospel work. My prayer is that soon Christ Church will be able to support church planting efforts in the UK and elsewhere. We hope to take a summer mission trip to Lima, Peru in 2015.
Christ Church Music
Our Director of Music, Mr. Michael Giuliani, is doing an excellent job directing the music of Christ Church. Michael is organizing and leading seasonal choirs and musical ensembles, as well as making strong inroads in and connections with the Charleston music community. Michael's wife Agnes, a world-class violinist, regularly plays the violin in our services (Next week she will play with Mannheim Steamrollers). Christ Church is uniquely blessed to have such a high standard of music so early on in the life of our work. We look forward to developing childrens' choirs and ensembles in the future. Our desire is to foster a deeper appreciation for sacred music in both our congregation and our community.
Elders and Deacons
As the leadership goes ... so goes the church. A church will only be as strong and healthy as her spiritual leaders. Therefore, please join us in praying that God would raise up godly elders and deacons from among us to serve, teach, and provide shepherding care for our congregation. My hope is that formal leadership training will begin this spring.
The Question of Location and Permanent Facilities
From the very beginning, we have been committed to establishing ourselves longterm in downtown Charleston or in southern Mount Pleasant (close proximity to downtown). Land is at a premium and real estate is costly. Please pray for us and consider giving to the building and land fund. It will cost millions to secure a facility in this area. For some that is an enormous amount, for others it is a small portion of their wealth, for God it is nothing. Pray that the Lord provides the resources in order to secure a strategic location for bold gospel ministry for generations to come.
Supporting Churches & Ongoing Support
It was a tremendous joy and privilege to visit and preach God’s Word in several of our supporting churches this year. Indeed, gospel partnerships were strengthened as I was honored to preach the riches of Christ at Independent Presbyterian Savannah, First Presbyterian Jackson, Covenant Presbyterian Nashville, Second Presbyterian Greenville, and Ortega Presbyterian Jacksonville. I thank God for all of our supporting churches and individuals who have given so generously and sacrificially over this past year-and-a-half.
Please pray for Christ Church as we move into this profoundly important period in the life of a church plant. Anything good that has happened in the past eighteen months at Christ Church is due to the sovereign grace of God. May He be glorified in and through us in the months and years to come!
- God’s Spirit to attend His Word in the worship, preaching, and numerous discipleship activities.
- The calling of qualified, gifted, and trained elders and deacons.
- Christ Church Pastors and Staff (Unity, wisdom, godliness, humility, purity, etc.)
- Wisdom and resources for a permanent facility.
- Evangelistic zeal and conversions.
- Godly marriages.
- Cultivation of Lord's Day piety in our congregation.
- Cultivation of personal and family piety.
- God’s work of grace in our covenant children.
- MUSC & Friends Bible Study.
- Men’s Leadership Training and weekly Bible Study.
- Growth our weekly prayer meeting.
- Women’s Bible Studies.
- Vision and sacrificial giving for world missions and further church planting.
- Continued Health for Pastor Jon–– recently received excellent report! PTL
Your Pastor, Servant, and Friend,