STS Western & Central Massachusetts

On Saturday, October 19, 2019, Small Town Summits, in partnership with the Moody Center, will host a Summit in Massachusetts. Pastors and lay leaders from small places across western and central Massachusetts will unite around our love for the gospel of Jesus Christ.

We will meet at The Moody Center, 206 Main Street Northfield, MA 01360


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 October 19, 2019 will be to consider how we can most fruitfully obey God’s call to minister this big gospel in the small places of western and central Massachusetts. 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

  • 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: 'The whole church on mission 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

Main Sessions

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 is the author of the forthcoming book “A Big Gospel in Small Places.” He and his wife Emma have two sons and one daughter.



David Pinckney is the lead pastor of River of Grace in Concord, NH, an Acts 29 church and the co-director of the new Acts 29 Rural Collective. He's a graduate of Bethel Seminary, a long-time New England pastor, and he and his wife Sharon have four sons and one daughter. He enjoys traveling, people, and history.


Making and Maturing Female Disciples in Small Places

Liz Burns

As women reconciled to Christ through the gift of the gospel, how do we take part in the ministry of the gospel around us? Join us as we discuss making much of gospel opportunities in the daily rhythms of life and inviting women into discipling relationships that are gospel-centered, grounded in God’s word and aimed at the glory of God and our sanctification.

Liz has the pleasure of overseeing the women’s discipleship efforts and the Connect Team at Rivertown Church in Brattleboro, VT.

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Church Planting in Small Places

Paul Gordon

Church planting in small places often needs to focus on two important aspects of starting a new church: (1) the importance of being intentional with an investment that benefits the entire community, and (2) a creative approach with its more limited resources. In this session, Paul will share a few different models of small-town church planting that he has been a part of, seen, and specifically led at Terra Nova Church in North Adams, MA. The goal will be to assist planters and pastors in being intentional & creative missionaries and community members within their unique contexts.

Paul Gordon grew up in upstate, rural NY and after 15 years in corporate finance, followed God’s call into ministry in 2010 as a Executive Pastor. In 2016 Paul returned to his family roots in North Adams, MA and began the work of planting Terra Nova Church and launching a new community gathering space called The Green. Paul is a member of the Acts 29 Network and Converge Northeast. Paul has been married to Nicole for 14-years, they have two children, Margot & Elgin and they love living in the Berkshires.

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Helping People Through Pain and Suffering in Small Places

Andy Rice

The call to shepherd God’s sheep is, among other things, a call to walk with them through the valley of the shadow of death. Are we preparing our people for the inevitable suffering that lies in the space between the turbulent present and our glorious future? This session will help us think about practical ways to prepare God’s people for trials and tragedy and to walk with them through it, with a special view toward the unique challenges and opportunities of the reality of suffering in small places.

Andy is the President of the Berkshire Institute for Christian Studies in Lenox, MA, a college-level discipleship program for young adults. Prior to that he served for nine years as the senior pastor of Faith Evangelical Church in Melrose, MA. He’s a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Andy and his wife, Carrie, have three sons and one daughter.


Battling Discouragement In Small Places

Ben Whittinghill

Seasons of discouragement in ministry are not unique to small places, but small-town ministry presents unique challenges and difficulties that can incite feelings of discouragement and discontentment. Our Father of mercy and God of all comfort delights to give weary shepherds consolations for their souls in the gospel of his Son. If the burdens of ministry have you feeling weary, let’s come to Jesus, together.

Ben Whittinghill is the lead pastor of Rivertown Church in Brattleboro, VT. He’s a graduate of the University of Georgia and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and serves on the leadership team of Vermont Church Planting. He and his wife Kayla have five sons and one daughter.

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The Pastor as Public Theologian in Small Places

Ben Ruhl

It’s a common assumption, though often unspoken, that pastors serving in cities and urban centers have a greater responsibility to engage the culture around them at a higher intellectual and theological level than pastors serving in the small places. In this breakout session we will investigate the way our location influences our theological engagement, assess the unique challenges and responsibilities of being a theologically-engaged pastor in small places and consider how we might respond to these unique challenges and responsibilities.

Ben Ruhl is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Moody Bible Institute. He is the lead pastor of BeFree Community Church in Alton, NH, a town of about 5,000, and serves on the leadership team for Small Town Summits. He is husband to Olivia and father to Davie.

Join other women on March 21st 2020 to be encouraged and equipped in studying the Bible for yourself and helping others to do the same.

We will meet at Galilee Baptist Church at 317 Main St, Gorham, Maine.

More information soon to come.


Bible Training for Women

God has chosen to reveal himself to us through the Bible. When we dive into his Word we discover the riches of God’s character and his redemptive plan for us and this world. But sometimes it's hard to know where to start. On March 21st, we will learn what it looks like to study a book of the Bible on its own. In walking through the book of Philippians, we will learn and practice tools for studying the Bible and helping others in doing the same.

Before gathering on March 21, you will have the opportunity to begin practicing study skills by completing prep work for the day. In addition to hands-on-learning, you will also be provided with various resources that will help as you continue to study the Word of God upon returning to your homes and churches. You can come to this event on your own. It’s also an ideal opportunity to bring a group of women from your church and grow together.


  • 8.30 – 9am - Arrival & Coffee

  • 9 – 9.50am - Session #1: “Welcome, Worship, and the Heart of Bible Study”

  • 9.50 – 10am - break

  • 10 – 10.50am - Session #2: “The Big Picture of Philippians”

  • 10.50 – 11.30pm - breakout groups

  • 11.30 – 12.30pm - Lunch

  • 12.30 – 1.20pm - Session #3: “The Inductive Process in Philippians”

  • 1.20 – 2pm - breakout groups

  • 2 – 2.10pm - break

  • 2.10 – 3pm - Session #4: “Leading Others through Philippians”

  • 3 – 3.30pm - Closing

(Schedule subject to change)

Main Speakers


Olivia Ruhl

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.


Emma Witmer

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.