Advance Stories

Churches Becoming Family through Foster Partnership

Churches Becoming Family through Foster Partnership

Churches Becoming Family through Foster Partnership

Foster Partnership – Dunean Baptist Church, Greenville, SC

Foster Partnership: Strong church commits to come alongside an at-risk church providing prayer, specified resources, wisdom, etc. for a defined length of time.

Dunean Baptist Church was formed as a mill village church in the textile region of South Carolina’s Upstate. Nestled in a neighborhood of homes originally occupied by the families of textile mill employees, she was once the center of the neighborhood. Like many other textile communities that once were unique to their company brand, these communities have seen several transitions after much of the textile industry left the area. Now the cookie-cutter mill homes connected by sidewalks are either still managed by landlords or have found new life through renovation and higher home sales. The resulting diversity creates a unique opportunity for ministry as more and more properties are repurposed, and tenants are being relocated to make way for new families.

Even though Dunean has over 650 members, in recent years they have struggled to gather 50 worshippers for Sunday services. Since the pastor was nearing retirement, he reached out to the local associational leadership for help and the resulting assessment brought a recommendation to find a partner church to help them implement an intentional plan to strengthen the church.

The subsequent conversations would form a partnership between Dunean Baptist and First Baptist Simpsonville that could best understood as a foster partnership. The vision of Wayne Bray, Lead Pastor of FB Simpsonville, was to come alongside an at-risk church and help them prepare a succession plan for pastoral leadership and invest resources to help strengthen the church. FB Simpsonville would utilize a revitalization residency with a revitalization pastor in development and equip him to take the lead pastor role at Dunean through a multi-year transition plan. The residency would allow the future pastor to build relationships in the community and develop new ministries in preparation to assume leadership as pastor of Dunean. During the transitional period, the partnership would also provide funds and resources for renovation of the facilities to accommodate new ministries for the community.

Much like the placement of a teenager with a new foster family, Dunean would retain her autonomy and name but would have the full support of the partnership church as guided by the covenant agreement.

  • Vision and leadership are provided by revitalization pastor with ongoing guidance from parental church leadership
  • Partnership agreement defines scope and length and is agreed upon by both churches
  • Clear succession plan allowing for development of future pastor and meaningful transitions for retiring pastor
  • Financial support and additional resources provided by the parental church and associational partners
  • Existing by-laws remain with plans to adopt new bylaws at a later date
  • Assets are managed by at-risk church with the support and guidance of parental church
  • Membership of remains unchanged, but new membership process is implemented for future additions
  • Existing members continue to participate and serve as needed under the direction of new pastoral leadership

Watch a video of Dunean’s story on the Greenville Baptist Association FB page

  • James Nugent

    James Nugent

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