June 06, 2008
By David Roach
For the next three years, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary will partner with Baptists in eastern Canada to plant churches in one of North America???s most unreached corners.
Beginning Jan. 1, Southern???s Church Planting Center teamed up with the Canadian Convention of Southern Baptists (CCSB) for three years during which time Canadian Baptist leaders will recruit church planters from among seminary students. Participants will plant congregations in the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland/Labrador and a portion of Nunavut.
The Church Planting Center is a partnership between the seminary and the SBC???s North American Mission Board.
???There are three practical components to this partnership,??? said J.D. Payne, associate professor of church planting and evangelism and director of the Church Planting Center. ???First, each semester for the next three years, a representative of the church planting work in eastern Canada will be on campus recruiting students and speaking in classes.
???Second, through the Great Commission Center, each year Southern will send at least one short-term mission team to serve with church planters in eastern Canada. Third, twice each year, professors from the seminary will be traveling to the region to work in leadership training with Canadian church planters and pastors.???
Gary Smith, CCSB church starting coordinator for Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic Provinces, said the spiritual opportunity in eastern Canada and the missions interest at Southern came together to inspire the partnership.
???We saw the great need and the great opportunity together, and so far great fruit has been yielded from the partnership including multiple mission trips and multiple church planting leaders coming to Canada from Southern,??? Smith said.
The partnership appears to coincide with the God???s working in eastern Canada, Payne said.
???In addition to hearing of the need for missionaries to preach and plant Gospel-centered churches, I also discovered the Lord is presently doing amazing work in eastern Canada,??? he said. ???I was told that the CCSB saw more churches planted in eastern Canada in just the past few months than they experienced all of last year.???
The partnership has given Southern the opportunity be a part of several ???firsts??? in Canadian missions. Through NAMB???s Nehemiah Project two church planters from Southern were recently called to Newfoundland and became the first Southern Baptist missionaries in that province. In addition to other mission trips, Southern will send a team in 2009 to Iqaluit, the capitol of Nunavut, which will be the first organized Southern Baptist missionary work to that area.
Pioneering mission work is necessary in eastern Canada because of the huge number of unchurched people there, Payne said. Quebec contains the five most unchurched cities in North America, and only half a percent of all Quebecois are evangelicals, he said, adding that many small communities throughout the country have no evangelical witness.
As one of the world???s most multi-cultural cities, Toronto has many residents from unreached people groups.
???Whenever you reach the cities of Canada,??? Payne said, ???you have the potential to reach the world.???
Both Smith and Payne said they anticipate Kingdom-impacting results from the partnership.
???My hope is that this partnership will be used by the Lord to glorify Himself through the multiplication of disciples, leaders and churches throughout eastern Canada and beyond,??? Payne said. ???Also, I hope that this partnership will develop and strengthen the relationship between the seminary, North American Mission Board and the Canadian Convention of Southern Baptists.
Source: Towers Online