“What if you could create a coalition of PCA churches to provide financial resources for ministry needs in the United Kingdom?”
That question was raised four and a half years ago by the Rev. Ed Norton, associate pastor of global outreach at Independent Presbyterian Church, Memphis, on a trans-Atlantic conference call with half a dozen ministers in Scotland and England. It proved to be the catalyst for a growing partnership between PCA churches and Reformed churches in three denominations to plant churches in the British Isles.
The ministers on that conference call could identify men ready to plant new congregations in the U.K., but lacked the financial resources to put them on the field. Norton realized that the needed financial resources could be provided by PCA churches if they could be connected with specific projects in the U.K. – and thus the idea of the United Kingdom Partnership was born. Over the next year, Norton contacted 100 churches about the idea; 10 ultimately signed up as United Kingdom Partnership (UKP) churches. Fundamentally, the UKP seeks to help foster and fund indigenous church planters in the United Kingdom who hold to the tenets of the Reformed faith. Since 2013, the PCA churches in the partnership have given nearly $500,000 for that purpose.
The UKP has no paid staff or financial accounts, and there is no fee to join. It exists solely to connect PCA churches with Reformed U.K. church planters from the Free Church of Scotland, the International Presbyterian Church, and the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches. On even-numbered years the UKP meets in the United States. The three British denominations send representatives to the meeting, as do the stateside churches in the UKP, now up to 12. On odd-numbered years, the meeting takes place in the British Isles.
The U.K. Partnership exists solely to connect PCA churches with Reformed U.K. church planters from the Free Church of Scotland, the International Presbytery Church, and the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches.
Representatives from the UKP churches arrive in London on Monday and spend the next six days visiting church planters and core groups and surveying target areas in London, Manchester, York, and Edinburgh – more than 20 sites in all. The purpose of both the American and British meetings is to build relationships and connect American churches with U.K. projects they can support. As the Rev. Neil MacMillan, organizing pastor of Cornerstone Church in Edinburgh, has said, “The United Kingdom Partnership is a dating service for churches.”
Norton says his long-range goal is to involve 25 churches in the UKP, but he would be happy to have more than that. Nor is the membership in the UKP restricted by the size of the church involved – the average Sunday attendance of the present partnership churches ranges from 160 to 1,500. The only standard is that UKP churches be willing to commit at least $1,000 to any project they adopt. The overall goal is to raise $1,000,000 from PCA churches over a 10-year period to fund indigenous U.K. church plants.
The next meeting of the UKP will be held October 4, 2016, at Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church. All PCA churches are invited to send representatives. Participants attend at their own expense. Though the meeting begins at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, those who can are invited to attend a fellowship dinner at 6 p.m. the night before. If you wish to attend the dinner, please RSVP to Ed Norton at firstname.lastname@example.org.