Dr. Doug Echols is the pastor of Bethel Baptist Church in Yorktown, Virginia, a historical church founded in 1840. From its early history, Bethel was focused on church planting, establishing Little Bethel Baptist Church on the current site of LibertyLive Church in Hampton, Virginia. Pastor Doug came to Bethel in November 2010 with a vision of extending Bethel’s church planting legacy — planting five churches in 10 years. Within a year, Bethel commissioned Jeff Mingee and a group of families to plant a church with a focus on reaching college students in Newport News, Virginia. Furthermore, Bethel generously supported their efforts with continuous prayer, encouragement and financial support.
Mingee, former youth pastor at Bethel, and the families that made up the launch team started Catalyst Church in August 2012 in a coffee shop adjacent to Christopher Newport University. Mingee reports, “Catalyst Church was planted out of Bethel with the firm belief that ‘Jesus Changes Everything’. Since that time, we’ve worked to advance the Gospel in Christopher Newport University and the surrounding Newport News communities.”
Catalyst has maintained a focus on advancing the Gospel. That focus has been evidenced in new believers professing their faith through baptism, generous giving to missions through the Cooperative Program, sending and supporting two of their own members as missionaries currently serving in Vietnam, and in training leaders to continue the legacy of church planting.
Mingee says, “The mission of God is bigger than any one church or church plant or church leader. Church leaders today stand on the shoulders of church leaders from yesterday and with the hope of raising up and sending out church leaders tomorrow.” With that conviction, Mingee has worked consistently to train next-generation leaders.
Adam Long and Bill Dumphy are products of Catalyst Church’s leadership development efforts. Both have served as church planter apprentices at Catalyst Church in partnership with the SBC of Virginia. Reflecting on the value of his apprenticeship, Long says, “Catalyst Church offered me a safe place to fail, a safe place to grow, and a safe place to ask questions. Having the freedom to learn and serve in that capacity truly helped shape me in ways most people could never understand. For that, I am so thankful.” Dumphy shares that same gratitude, “My time as an apprentice at Catalyst was invaluable. Working under Jeff’s leadership really helped to solidify my next steps in planting GracePointe Church. Where we are now is only possible through the apprenticeship at Catalyst.”
In the same manner that Bethel sent the team that planted Catalyst, Catalyst Church equipped and sent the Long family, the Dumphy family, and a few others to plant Gracepointe Church in Williamsburg, Virginia, in May 2018. Dumphy reports that along with other families that God provided, “We began meeting regularly in one another’s homes starting in September 2017 and started meeting at our current location beginning in May 2018. He continued, “This first year was spent establishing a culture focused on the Gospel and how (the church) would be planted in Williamsburg.”
Gracepointe Church launched weekly worship services in Williamsburg in September 2018. Long says, “We believe in partnership. Our church was planted with two pastors casting the same vision on the same mission to reach the unreached in Williamsburg. Our partnership with Catalyst Church is vital to our church seeing growth as well as our community being changed by the Gospel.” Dumphy adds, “Catalyst has been a strong partner in the Gospel. Without their partnership, there’s no way we could have launched when we did. The beautiful thing is that their partnership continues to this day.”
A prime example of churches planting churches and leaving a legacy that continues to this day: there was a church that planted Bethel in 1840, which, in turn, planted other churches. They had an indirect role in planting Gracepointe through the investments they previously made in Catalyst. Recently, they joined their daughter church (Catalyst) in providing support to their granddaughter church (Gracepointe). Gracepointe is now poised to continue the mission of God through church planting.
How is your church continuing the mission of God through church planting? Your SBCV missionary team stands ready to assist you in your efforts.