We’re excited to announce that on November 17, 2018, we’ll be hosting our first Small Town Summit in Maine. The event will be sponsored by The Gospel Coalition New England and the Gospel Alliance of Maine and hosted by the First Baptist Church of Dexter. To register for the event, please click below.
A Big Gospel in Small Places
The mighty, enduring gospel of Jesus Christ is God’s transforming power wherever it goes, in the biggest cities and the remotest villages. The purpose of our Summit on November 17, 2018 will be to consider how we can most fruitfully obey God’s call to minister this big gospel in the small places of Maine. What are the unique challenges and opportunities of small-place ministry? How does God mean for the gospel to shape both the content of our preaching and the contours of our ministry? Please join us to share your experience and to be equipped and encouraged.
8.30 – 9am - Arrival and registration
9 – 10am - Welcome, singing, the vision of Small Town Summits & the Gospel Alliance Maine
10 – 11am - Session #1: ‘Gospel ministry in small places’ and group discussion (Stephen Witmer)
11 – 11.30am - Coffee break
11.30am – 12.30pm - Session #2: 'Preaching in small places’ and group discussion (David Pinckney)
12.30 – 1.30pm - Lunch
1.30 – 2.30pm - Breakout sessions (see below)
2.30 – 3.30pm - Session #3: ‘Joy in small places’ and group discussion (David Pinckney and Stephen Witmer)
3.30 – 4pm - Prayer
In our main sessions, David Pinckney and Stephen Witmer will explore the unique privileges and challenges of preaching and gospel ministry in small towns and rural areas, and will lead us in thinking about how to fight for joy in our small-place ministries.
Stephen Witmer is the lead pastor of Pepperell Christian Fellowship in Pepperell, MA. He's a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and the University of Cambridge, and serves on the steering committee of the Gospel Coalition New England. He and his wife Emma have two sons and one daughter.
Foundations of Church Revitalization in Small Places: Preach, pray, love and stay
As the statistics show, Maine has been in spiritual decline for decades and the landscape is peppered with small, struggling churches. God calls many pastors into those churches to begin breathing new life into them. But how? There’s no sure-fire, 100%-guaranteed method that fireproofs against a church split or a pink slip, but this discussion-based breakout will focus on four important emphases in any revitalization work: preach the word of God consistently, pray for the flock continually, love the people God gave you deeply, and look to your call to help you stay.
Blake Brown has been the pastor of Southwest Harbor Congregational Church since 2003. After being calling into the ministry from a career that included Pitney Bowes, Taco Bell and HR consulting with Genesis Solutions, he attended Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, graduating with a Master’s of Divinity with an emphasis in Old Testament studies. Blake and his wife Carrie have three children, Avonlea, Jack and Finnegan. He enjoys reading, long-distance cycling, working on his 1973 MG Midget, kayaking and spending time with his family.
Building a Word-Filled Women’s Ministry in small Places
God has given women the privilege, ability, and responsibility to be students and ministers of His Word for the building up of His church. Join us as we together discuss what practical steps we might take to further encourage and equip the women in our local churches to be students of God's Word.
Emma Witmer lives in Pepperell MA but was born and bred in Northern Ireland. In a previous life she taught English to high school students, and worked in student ministry at a large church in Cambridge, England. Life is now full of church ministry alongside Stephen and looking after their three children: Samuel, Annie, and Henry.
Olivia Ruhl lives in Alton, NH, where she serves alongside Ben Ruhl in church ministry. Though the New England region is now home, life has taken her to the West Coast, South, Midwest, and overseas. Prior to Alton, Olivia attended Moody Bible Institute and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary for ministry training. She is also the mother of Davie.
Transitioning Leadership in Small Places
In 1998 Jay answered a call from God to serve as the lead pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dexter in a bi-vocational role. In 2013 FBC also called Andrew Bermudez to serve as their youth pastor. In 2015, Jay and Andrew, with the support of the elders and the congregation, switched roles as it were, with Andrew becoming the full-time lead pastor and Jay becoming the teaching pastor. Today, Jay and Andrew continue to minister together at FBC. This breakout session will explore various biblical strategies a church can consider to make these times of leadership change an opportunity for growth.
Jay Brennan serves as the teaching pastor of The First Baptist Church of Dexter, Maine, where he has served for over 20 years. He holds graduate degrees from the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, PA and the University of Maine and is active in studies in Asian History at Boston College. Over the years he has served as a campus pastor, worked in administrative roles in several private schools, and served as a bi-vocational pastor. Today he serves as the CEO of Global Study Connections with offices in Seoul S. Korea and Beijing, China. Jay and Dottie have seven grown children, 22 grandchildren and have hosted 42 international students in their home in Dover-Foxcroft, ME.
Loving God with All Your Mind in Small Places
Sometimes those who minister in rural Maine may feel as if they are in a theological and philosophical wasteland. This session will consider the question "How do I bring together Biblical scholarship, helpful resources, and wise counsel, so as to communicate the gospel in relevant and life-giving ways in my church?"
Bill Johnson is a philosopher and a pastor. He serves as the senior pastor of First Baptist of Pittsfield, Maine and as the Director of Pine Tree Leadership Development Network. He also teaches as Husson University and at Grace Evangelical Seminary.
A Vernacular Worship in Small Places
This session will take a look at the more domestic manifestations of worship: how the home and daily life can be consecrated to the glory of God.
Garrett Soucy is the pastor of Christ the King Church in Belfast. He is also a writer and musician. He and his wife, Siiri, live in Liberty with their eight children.