One church. Two locations. Four ethnically-based congregations.
That describes Christ Community Presbyterian Church in Newark, N.J., also known as Comunidade Crista Presbiteriana. The PCA church now serves four distinct demographic groups—English-speaking, Latino, Portuguese/Brazilian, and African-American.
Christ Community recently launched the first phase toward a fourth congregation, Brick City Community, in Newark’s Central Ward, which is comprised of eight residential villages including 1,800 homes.
The Brick City congregation—adopting Newark’s nickname of “Brick City”—would become the only one of Christ Community’s four ethnic bodies not located in the same building.
Primary responsibility for planting the Brick City congregation will go to the Rev. William T. Iverson, an 83-year-old teaching elder at Christ Community with extensive experience with starting inner-city churches.
Leaders for conference sessions will include Randy Nabors, Renato Bernardes, and Al Baker—all pastors of multi-ethnic congregations.
Topics covered during the conference will include:
• Revival and reformation
• Multicultural and ethnic ministry
• Small church growth and how a small church can plant a church
• Reaching the cities from where you are
• Building biblically-literate churches
For more information, contact Bill Iverson at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 732-877-9373.
Iverson first planted a Presbyterian church in a predominately black neighborhood in January 1952, in the Jones Street area of Elberton, Ga., when racial terms like “colored” and “Negro” were still acceptable in everyday conversation. He described himself at the time as “a young, enthusiastic preacher who believed that Christ was not the propitiation for my sins only, but for the whole world. As long as that Jones Street community was in the world, I was responsible!”
Sixty years later, the energetic octogenarian is still at it. The goal is to canvas the Central Ward neighborhoods to invite individuals and families to Brick City, initiate a series of prayer meetings, and conduct the first special worship event on Reformation Sunday with Humanity Baptist Church and a Thanksgiving Day dinner and worship in a community center.
Emphasis will not be on worship alone. The church will offer a limited-enrollment theological study program in cooperation with Westminster Theological Seminary and eventually a Sunday school academy—both designed to help participants gain in-depth understanding of the Scriptures.
Iverson has high expectations for what God will do through the fledgling body. “There’s a need in the PCA to break out of our comfort zones, not being dependent only on the denomination or presbytery, but—as Jim Bland, MNA coordinator, points out— ‘Let each church plant a church.’ This is a session initiative at the grassroots level. As pastors and leaders, we need to become people in touch with the community, reaching out to the burgeoning minority groups in our American cities with the gospel.”