From July 21 – 29, Jimmy Davis (elder, Elmore congregation, Elmore, AL), Don Myers (preacher of Elmore congregation, Elmore, AL) & Andrew Bowens (preacher of Calvert County congregation, Prince Fredrick, MD) traveled to Sayre, PA to meet Clarence & Eileen McDowell (missionary & former PA church planters, Memphis, TN).
God blessed Andrew and Jimmy to meet and share the gospel with a lady who loves the word of God and who has become burdened with the way denominationalism has departed from God’s revealed will. This contact came from God through the efforts of Tom Collier. She lives near Endwell, NY. An Endwell brother in Christ (John Patrick) promised to follow up on the contact. This wonderful truth-seeker was already trying to find ways to assist with the church plant in Sayre as she studied with Andrew and Jimmy.
Preachers, church leaders and other Christians from Wellsboro, PA (Tink, preacher, & wife); Dryden, NY (Arthur & Sandy Barry); Endwell, NY (Eric Cimuchowski); Horseheads, NY (Stephen Connors); Milton, FL (Ed Temple); Sayre, PA (Darlene Eliburg); and Lewistown, PA (Bill Garrett & Randy Morrison) met the Antioch Initiative travelers in Sayre, PA to discuss, pray and dream about the church of the Lord being planted in Sayre. Don commented, “I cannot overemphasize the zeal, excitement and spiritual identification of these NY and PA brethren regarding the church plant in Sayre. This trip has been an inspiration.” Arthur Barry (and wife, Sandy) of Dryden, NY coordinated the meeting in Sayre with the NY & PA brothers and sisters and the visiting Antioch Initiative Team.
John Patrick of Endwell, NY recommended brother Arthur Barry for the Valley Cities’ evangelist. Accordingly, brother Barry formalized his desire to be considered for the work of evangelist for Valley Cities in writing and Jimmy Davis assured him that his application will cycle into the interview process as soon as possible. Bill Garrett of Lewistown, PA recommended Ed Dyche as a possible candidate for the work of evangelist for the Valley Cities’ plant. (Brother Dyche is an extremely well known PA preacher, who now resides in Carlisle, PA).
As these recommendations are being explored, Clarence McDowell and Jimmy Davis proposed an immediate plan of action regarding brother Dyche to expedite the church plant, since he is retired and, potentially, available. Their proposal was that brother Dyche drive to Sayre, PA each week (about a two-hour trip for him) on Saturdays and depart each Wednesday morning en route to his home in Carlisle. This would enable him to preach for the Valley Cities Church of Christ (once launched) on Sundays (AM & PM); mentor new Christians and follow-up on campaign contacts Mondays and Tuesdays; and, teach a Tuesday evening Bible study for the Valley Cities’ church. A possible church meeting place adequate to accommodate thirty to forty people (including large room, office area and other rooms) was located in Sayre at a cost of $700 per month. A one-bedroom apartment ($650 per month) and a two-bedroom apartment ($680 per month) were also discovered as possible options for the preacher’s temporary residence. The DeSisti brothers (who handled these and other properties in the Valley Cities’ area) were enlisted to assist the Antioch Initiative Team in the investigation of these and/or other suitable temporary locations for the preacher’s housing and the church meeting place. These properties are under immediate consideration pending Brother Dyche’s decision.
Regarding campaign accommodations, Jimmy Davis and Clarence McDowell negotiated with the Best Western Grand Victorian Inn of Sayre, PA for church meeting place and rooms for workers. The securing of ten rooms will offer campaigners two-for-one meal vouchers in the hotel dining room and free use of a campaign meeting room for church gatherings and worship.
If brother Dyche agrees to this temporary plan, a campaign for Christ (measured and limited to a few campaigners at the outset) would take place in October of this year. The recommended teachers for the first campaign would be Jimmy Davis, Larry Krause, Terry Carlisle & Clarence McDowell paired with Stephen Connors of Horseheads, NY; Eric Cimuchowski of Endwell, NY; Tink of Wellsboro, PA; and Bill Garrett of Lewistown, PA. This would be aimed at the goal of setting up of a manageable number of Bible studies for brother Dyche to follow up after the October campaign concludes given his weekly time constraints. Andrew Bowens urged that local members in or near Sayre be included in the proposed October campaign to promote their ownership, fellowship and involvement in the work.
Brother Dyche will survey Valley Cities (Sayre & Athens, PA & Waverly, NY) in early August of this year to make his decision. If he decides to accept the proposal, this will enable Don Myers and Clarence McDowell to visit a select number of brotherhood schools (September forward) to continue the search for a permanent evangelist to locate in Valley Cities. It is believed that the permanent evangelist-elect will raise the remainder of this personal support and working fund.
Andrew Bowens (D. Min., Amridge University & Major USAF stationed at the Pentagon) is an extremely dedicated member of the growing Antioch Initiative Team. He added tremendously to this trip with his wisdom, knowledge of the word of God and experience. Andrew taught an excellent class at Kittanning, PA this past Sunday morning (the 27th). Don Myers preached at Kittanning, PA this past Sunday (the 27th) and directed the Bible class hour in Horseheads, NY on Wednesday (the 23rd).
Jimmy Davis (Elmore elder) led the discussion on July 26th in Kittanning, PA with Ben Wright (one of the Kittanning elders) regarding the plan of action reported above. (Don, Clarence, Eileen & Andrew were in attendance at said meeting.) Brian Steffy and Steve Maul (the other two Kittanning elders) were both out of town, but Ben will apprize Brian and Steve of the proposal. The Kittanning eldership has agreed to be the sponsoring and overseeing leadership for the evangelist who is selected. Ben promised to communicate the Kittanning leadership’s input into this plan within a week or so. Jimmy Davis’ leadership in this work is beyond calculation.
Regardless of delays, disappointments and/or setbacks, the Antioch Initiative Team reasons that Christ has mandated the evangelization of the world. And since Bradford, Susquehanna, Sullivan and Wyoming Counties, PA do not have congregations of the Lord’s church, these team members will not relent or rest until that work is done. The planting of germinal & faithful congregations capable of reproducing themselves must be continued until the final return of Jesus the Lord. There is no other plan and surrender is, simply, not an option.
Keep this matter in your prayers. More as God blesses.
Dear Partners in PA Church-Planting,
It has been sometime since our last communication. The reason for our silence is that we suffered a major set-back in our plans to place the evangelist we had selected in Valley Cities.
Now, we are regrouping. Clarence McDowell (former PA church planter, preacher), Jimmy Davis (Elmore elder with extensive experience in foreign missions, church planting and prison ministry), Andrew Bowens (Major USAF & D.Min. with expertise in short term missions, church planting and foreign and domestic missions); Keith Blackburn (an elder of Pikeville, KY with extensive experience in a mission-based congregation) and I (Don Myers) (preacher of Elmore congregation with experience in planting congregations, world missions, preaching, teaching preachers in university setting) will travel to PA & NY July 21 - 30th seeking to enlist the cooperation and partnership of congregations within practical distance of our church plant site of Valley Cities. We will go to Kittanning, PA to meet with that leadership concerning plans for the aggressive search for an evangelist for Valley Cities. Clarence McDowell and Don Myers will make trips to a select group of brotherhood schools to personally interview candidates. If a man, say , is six months away from graduation, we will be able to inform him (seeing the glass half-full and not half-empty) that we have been blessed to have raised 40 - 50% of his support needs and stand ready to fund his travels to raise his remaining support needs. It is only logical and reasonable to think that a man (to whom we would have committed by that time) would be most effective in circulating among those who know, trust and love him to raise the remainder of his support and working fund.
As soon as the right kind of man can be placed in Valley Cities, we will coordinate the campaign plans accordingly. There is little need to launch a campaign before the evangelist is in place, since he will need to be in the field to do the follow-up work. Steven Connors (preacher in Horseheads, NY for 25 years) will be sought to assist in the mentoring, orienting and mutual encouragement on the evangelist placed in Valley Cities. The Antioch Initiative Team will continue to seek out partners who can give us their wisdom of leadership, expertise in missions and fellowship in giving to see this first church planted in Bradford County, PA become a reality.
Your prayers and continued support are needed. We are in this for the long haul and we need partners with the same commitment. We believe you are such partners.
We ask that you visit the Antioch Initiative website from time to time to get current updates and to see new features being added.
With our love and respects,
on behalf of the Antioch Initiative Team