In the North Carolina West District, Maiden Wesleyan Church has started something new: a church plant, right on their own property. Rev. Tim Smith, Maiden’s senior pastor, explains how this idea for a new church, Salt Community Church, came to be:
When my wife, Mary, and I arrived at Maiden Wesleyan Church, we walked through the Sunday School rooms and it looked like the rapture had happened during Sunday School. There were crayons and workbooks on the tables and lessons on the white boards. We were both grieved by the empty, unused facilities.
God began to bless; attendance and giving increased. We were able to pay off all our debts and accumulate some savings. The church knew such blessings weren’t meant to be hoarded, so we began to ask what God had in mind for our aging congregation. Our growth had largely been people whose “heart language” was a more traditional worship style.
Then came COVID. An Apostolic congregation in the area approached us about renting our gymnasium so they could meet and “social distance” at the same time. We observed their congregation meeting and growing in our gymnasium. It was their success that planted the idea of starting a new church in our facilities to reach younger people with a more contemporary approach.
With the blessing and guidance of District Superintendent Jerry Lumston and District Multiplication Director Tom Raven, we began to search for a church planter. God answered our prayers by sending Dillon and Victoria Kimmel. They’re a gifted and well-trained couple with a vibrant commitment to Jesus and a genuine love for people.
We are also indebted to Tom Harding, pastor of the Alive Church in Central, South Carolina. Alive followed a similar path many years ago, transitioning from “the college church” to their current congregation.
Maiden Wesleyan provided housing, facilities and financial support for the church plant. Some younger members will join in establishing the work of Salt Community Church. Where we’re able, we also assist by supporting events.
Our desire is when those of us who are older pass away, a strong congregation will occupy the facilities Maiden has labored to build and will continue to offer the holiness message to the community.
Pastor Dillon and his family came to Maiden full of anticipation for starting a new church. They arrived in North Carolina on August 1, 2022, and right away, they saw evidence of God at work in the community, preparing the way for the church plant.
On the trip down from Michigan, one of the main prayers of the Kimmel family was for God to provide people. Within hours of arriving, while unpacking, God answered that prayer. A family from the area stopped because they saw the U-Haul out front being unpacked. They shared their hearts, which aligned perfectly with the vision of the church becoming a fresh expression of the gospel, reaching lost people with the love of Jesus while bringing flavor and adding value to the community.
Later that evening — in a last-minute run to the local grocery — the Holy Spirit provided an opportunity to share the gospel and story of Maiden Wesleyan Church/Salt Community Church. This interaction caught the ear of a worker leaving her shift. She began sharing how the Lord had placed on her heart a year ago to “go and be a part of something new.” For a year she had prayed, asking God for clarity; in that conversational moment, she felt this was it.
All in the first five hours of arriving home, God provided.
A few weeks later, while using social media to learn more about places to eat, conversations sparked that people were looking for activities to celebrate the end of summer. Salt Community Church began dreaming up a launch plan schedule and decided to host an end of summer/beginning of the school year Splash Party! With little planning and preparation, they put a day on the books (August 27)!
God has used just the stirring of something “new” in the area to open conversations about who he is and why his family is here.
Rev. Smith expressed a desire for a strong congregation that could continue carrying Maiden Wesleyan’s mission — “offering the message of holiness” — to the community in the future. The church’s faithfulness now in offering their property and other resources to a new church plant is fulfilling that exact hope. God is working in Maiden, North Carolina, and these two churches are committed to working with him.
Jerah Winn is a communication assistant in the Communication and Administration Division of The Wesleyan Church and studies writing and honors humanities at Indiana Wesleyan University, Marion, Indiana.