Advance Stories

Churches Becoming Family through Adoption Partnership

Churches Becoming Family through Adoption Partnership

Churches Becoming Family through Adoption Partnership

Adoption Partnership – River District Church, West Columbia, SC

Adoption Partnership: At-risk church yields control to stronger parent church providing leadership and resources as guided by a partnership agreement.

Over a 20-year period, the church experienced a steady decline in worship attendance resulting in a smaller congregation with limited means to maintain facilities much less, participate in ministry. Though their hearts were willing, their large sanctuary remained mostly empty, so they began to seek options for their future under the direction of their transitional pastor.

Through a consultation process with SC Baptist and their associational leadership, the church gained a better understanding of their reality and affirmed a recommendation to reSTART the church as a new work in partnership with a stronger SBC church in the association.

After a series of meetings and vision casting, West Columbia Baptist formed a cooperation agreement with Lexington Baptist Church to share resources without losing their autonomy. The resulting adoption yielded a new name, River District Church, reflecting their vision to be a community of faith in the newly rebranded River District Community of West Columbia. Lexington Baptist added a replanter to their staff, Seth Stoddard, to lead this new work in West Columbia with full access to the wisdom of the Lexington Baptist staff. The resulting River District Church relaunched as a new work with a new worship expression and new ministries under the guidance of a parental church.

  • Vision and leadership are provided by parental church and replanter
  • Partnership agreement defines scope and length and is agreed upon by both churches
  • Existing by-laws are often replaced temporarily by parental church bylaws until new bylaws can be adopted allowing for significant partnership oversight of future decisions
  • At-risk church does not dissolve maintaining assets and liabilities
  • Assets are managed by at-risk church with the guidance of parental church
  • Existing members may have the opportunity to continue to participate and serve as needed under the direction of new pastoral leadership and partner church leadership
  • Partnering churches provides substantial resources to infuse health and increase ministry potential often including funding, families, ministry training, and facility renovation.
  • Local pastoral leadership with local ministries to reach a different context than partner church
  • Membership of new work may be reconstituted at relaunch


  • James Nugent

    James Nugent

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