Some of you may already know this, but my husband and I are moving to Winston-Salem. We currently live in a small town, Mebane, NC, which is located about an hour east of Winston. We hope, Lord willing, to buy a house in Winston so our moving date is dependent on when we close on a house (our hope is by February or March 2017).
So why are we moving to Winston-Salem? We are moving because we believe that God has called us to plant a church there. My husband has been working at Grace Reformed Baptist in Mebane as a "Church Planting Resident" for the past year and he's been pursuing his PhD in Historical Theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. But his training and preparations for what he believes God has called him to do actually started a lot further back than last year...
The History Behind the Church Plant
My husband began to feel a call to ministry and the call to be a pastor when he was 13. A few years later, he began to pursue the idea of planting a church. He approached one of his best friends (Brad) and his two brothers (Anthony and Zack) about the possibility of planting a church together in the future. These 4 men approached Grace Reformed Baptist in Mebane and asked the church to train them and to determine whether or not they were qualified for ministry. Alex has also been extremely blessed to have an older mentor and pastor in his life, Pastor Fisher. Pastor Fisher was his pastor throughout his childhood and during his college years, Alex spent his summers at Grace training with Pastor Fisher. After graduating from Clemson, Alex moved to Mebane to attend Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and to continue training with Pastor Fisher. Throughout this entire process, Pastor Fisher and Grace Reformed Baptist have confirmed and continued to support Alex's calling towards becoming a pastor and planting a church. In the last year, as I mentioned above, Grace hired Alex and began to formally move forward with the church planting process. Alex and I are both extremely thankful for all of the support and guidance our sending church has given to us so far. I also have to say that I am particularly blessed by and thankful for Pastor Fisher's sacrificial involvement in Alex's life. I know that he has had a large part in forming Alex's theology, his maturity, his love for the Lord, love for the saints, and love for the church.
So why are we planting a church in Winston-Salem? We desire to lean heavily on our sending church and we want to be directed by our elders. The elders at Grace felt that it would be best to stay in North Carolina so that the people at Grace can be intimately involved in supporting and helping the church plant. Once North Carolina was determined, Alex and Pastor Fisher began meeting with men who were able to give them detailed information about the demographics and needs of various cities in North Carolina. Winston-Salem emerged as one of the more needy cities in North Carolina. Winston-Salem is part of the Piedmont Triad and with a population of nearly 250,000, Winston-Salem is one of the largest cities in NC. The city features several universities including Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem State University, and University of North Carolina School of the Arts. With estimated population growth of over 40% coming to the city in the next 10 years, and with 85-90% of the current population not meaningfully involved in a local church, Winston-Salem is a prime target for church planting in the state of North Carolina.
What Will This Mean for DiPrima Photography?
Thankfully, this move actually won't change much for DiPrima Photography. Many of the weddings I shoot are already in the Triad area and my hope is to continue targeting more weddings in the Triad area. It also opens up the possibility of traveling to Charlotte, Boone, and Asheville with reduced or no travel fees.
How Can I Learn More?
You can learn more about Emmanuel Church of Winston-Salem (the name of our church plant!) by visiting this website. You can also read Alex's blog and subscribe to our newsletter. Please also feel free to email me if you have any questions or if you're interested in getting involved (or have friends living in Winston who may be interested)! If you desire to pray for us, here's a few of our current requests:
- Please pray for our small group meetings which are meeting every other Saturday in Winston-Salem. Pray that our time together would be profitable and unifying. Pray that God would continue to bring interested contacts and that God would form us into a church.
- Pray that God would continue to form and finalize a core team that will be moving with us from Mebane to Winston-Salem. We have a couple of families who are currently considering coming with us. They need the Lord to give them wisdom as they make many important decisions.
- Pray for opportunities to share the gospel in Winston-Salem. Pray that God would give us and our team boldness.
I am excited and nervous about this next big endeavor in our lives. I am so thankful to know that I can rest in God's sovereignty and His faithfulness to build His church. Our earnest hope and prayer is that we would be able to reach the lost and needy in Winston-Salem with the gospel and that God would form His church. In spite of all the unknowns, the fears, and the pressures, we look to Jesus for our confidence. My plea is what Paul's was in Acts 20:24: "But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God."