REPLANT: Holy City Church on James Island

Harbor Light Baptist Church

Jerry had been retired for more than a decade when he received a phone call from a dying church. This was the third time God had led him to serve on James Island. He had developed a process for revitalization during his time as the director of a local association and was now being asked to return as a consultant. The church had formed out of a split and now found itself in survival mode. Harbor Light Baptist Church was in decline and looked to Jerry for a pathway forward. 

When Jerry served with the State Convention he was responsible for helping 350 dying congregations. All the patterns he had observed over the years were true of this suburban church on James Island. The congregation was faced with the possibility of closing their doors. Jerry arrived thinking he would serve as a consultant, however, he ended up staying as the interim pastor for almost six months. From the beginning, it was clear Jerry’s purpose in returning to James Island was to help revitalize this church.

On his first Sunday at Harbor Light there were twelve people in the pews. Jerry recognized the church needed to change, and he prepared the people for what could potentially lie ahead. After a meeting with the regional catalyst, the two men proposed an option for moving forward. If the church were to have a future, it would require merging with a church plant team.

Holy City Church

Brian was a pastoring in Louisville, Kentucky when he sensed God calling him to plant a church. He had heard stories from a friend of how the Lord was advancing his Church in Charleston and began praying for direction. While finishing his doctorate at Southern Seminary, he became certain that this was the next step for him and his family. The elders of his church affirmed his call and sent Brian’s family out to plant.  

Two other pastors and their families joined him, and together they began forming the core group of Holy City Church. The team prayed about where God would have them in the city and sought the counsel of the regional catalyst. After hearing the story of Harbor Light, it became clear that the opportunity to connect with the dying church on James Island was the pathway forward. 

The congregation at Harbor Light Baptist Church voted to merge with Holy City Church, giving leadership to the team of three pastors. What was previously a church of twenty senior adults had become a church of forty-five adults and children. The church plant adopted the dying church into their mission and began loving and shepherding its remaining members as a part of that. 

As weeks passed after the merge, Jesus was consistently preached from the pulpit. A growth in unity was experienced by the congregation as they were called to repent and believe that the gospel was good news. The pathway forward for the church would be to continue proclaiming this truth to its people.