Rev. Darren Gillespie

Reverend Darren Gillespie had a vision for church multiplication when he came into leadership of Kingswood and Cloverport Wesleyan churches. He quickly noticed that there were towns without a Wesleyan, holiness church about every 12 or so miles along Kentucky’s Highway 60 corridor. Rev. Gillespie could not see all the answers, but Cloverport had developed a real heart for people being saved and sanctified.

Just across the river in Cannelton, Indiana, Rev. Gillespie and his assistant pastor, Josh Noble, went into a coffee shop to start a morning Bible study. Only a few people gathered on that Tuesday morning in October 2021, but they decided that their next step was to be back the next week. Continuing to meet every Tuesday morning at 8:00 a.m., their Bible study has grown to over 25. Word spread about the “coffee church” and Rev. Gillespie and Pastor Josh began to need more tables to fit everyone.

Pastor Kim Wilborn

Early in the Bible study gatherings, a connection was formed between Rev. Gillespie and Pastor Kim Wilborn, pastor of Dukes Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Hawesville, Kentucky. In Rev. Gillespie’s words, “Pastor Kim instantly caught the vision for what River Crossing was becoming.” With Pastor Kim’s addition, the leadership of River Crossing was established.

Their model is still in development. “We are still figuring it all out, because it’s a different model,” acknowledges Rev. Gillespie. Because of how they multiplied table to table with an eclectic group of people, River Crossing would not be able to be led in a typical or traditional way. They have intentionally structured themselves as a team.

Rev. Gillespie continues to lead the vision for church multiplication and oversees the larger picture for Kingswood, Cloverport and River Crossing churches. Pastor Kim desires the “church to grow up” and is in the process of implementing a discipling system. “She lives and breathes discipleship,” shares Rev. Gillespie. As leader of pastoral care, Pastor Josh helps lead River Crossing in a variety of ministry fields. Every Sunday afternoon, he and a few people from the River Crossing congregation minister to those in a nearby nursing home, thus adding another “table” to their circle.

Pastor Josh Noble

Pastor Josh recognizes the leading of God at the nursing home: “I know I’m at the nursing home for a reason and Bobby is one of those reasons.” Bobby, who has since passed away, had a rough past, but his mother had never stopped praying for his salvation. One Sunday afternoon, through the ministry of Pastor Josh and River Crossing, Bobby made a profession of faith and expressed a desire to be baptized!

The nursing home is not the only “table” that River Crossing has added. One of River Crossing’s lay leaders has a passion for helping and ministering to those currently homeless in her community. She brought this ministry opportunity to the table and now River Crossing is very involved in this ministry.

Rev. Gillespie and the people of River Crossing very intentionally rely on the Holy Spirit for direction. As God brings different ministry opportunities to the surface, they recognize God’s movement and respond. They have done outreach at local festivals, are exploring prison ministry, as well as looking for other local impact opportunities.

River Crossing now meets in the Cannelton American Legion — as their original coffeeshop location closed. Despite the location change, they continue the practice of meeting Tuesday mornings for Bible study, prayer and a few worship songs. Once a month, they will gather for a church service on Sunday evenings also.

In all that they do, River Crossing is committed to being “a safe place for real transformation” — a phrase which has become their mission statement. This missional idea originated from within the ministry when a lady talked about her inability to share things from her past in a church before and that River Crossing was different, truly “a safe place for real transformation.” With this confession, Rev. Gillespie instantly knew this would become River Crossing Church’s mission.

Though life and being real can be messy, people are being transformed in Jesus. River Crossing is committed to being that safe place to be messy. “We are all a mess, and we bring it to the table,” said Rev. Gillespie.

On October 22, 2023, River Crossing Church received their official certificate of organization from the Kentucky-Tennessee District of The Wesleyan Church. This was a big day in the church’s life and encouraging to the ministry they are doing. Rev. Gillespie is extremely grateful for the district support River Crossing has received along the way.

When asked what is next for River Crossing, Rev. Gillespie has no doubts: “There are other needed safe places for real transformation, and we don’t know where they are yet. We trust the Lord to bring those to us, and we will either be there or train folks to be there or send people there. Multiplication is inherent in our vision.”

Rev. Jacob Gibson is the senior pastor at LifeSpring Wesleyan Church, Richmond, Indiana, and graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University and Wesley Seminary, Marion, Indiana.