REPLANT: Impact Church in Downtown Charleston

SOUTHSIDE BAPTIST CHURCH

Ollie had pastored Southside for thirty years when he began thinking of what the future held for the church. It had become a senior adult church that lacked the motivation to reach the diverse community around them. Over time the neighborhood had changed but the church had failed to adapt. To the left was low-income housing, and to their right were million dollar homes. Panic consumed the church. With engaging the population around them came a fear that those living in the projects would gain control of the church. If Southside were to continue existing, Ollie knew his people would have to embrace the urban population around them: both black and white.

Convicted of the church’s posture, Pastor Ollie knew the church’s lack of growth was directly related to their inward focus. Now seventy years old, he invited a friend and coach into the conversation. His advice was to sit down with the region’s catalyst to discuss options for moving forward. The three men agreed that for the church to thrive where God had planted it, the leadership needed to reflect the community around them. Southside’s pathway forward would begin by sharing space with an African-African church plant. 

IMPACT CHURCH

Ra’Shan had planted Impact Church a year and a half earlier when it outgrew the meeting room of a local Holiday Inn. Burdened for the urban population in his hometown, he had moved back to Charleston with no model or money for starting a church. Shortly after gathering a core group, Ra’Shan connected with the leader of 1Charleston — an initiative pursuing multiethnic partnerships in the city. From there, he was encouraged to meet with the regional catalyst. Not knowing what would come of it, the conversation shifted towards collaboration. Ra’Shan was told the story of a dying, urban church a mile away and was introduced to its pastor, Ollie.   

After several meetings of hearing stories and sharing vision for their churches, God began to knit together the hearts of these two pastors. Ollie learned of Impact’s issue with space and offered to let the congregation gather in Southside’s sanctuary on Sunday afternoons. Initially, there was resistance from the dying church of twenty, but Pastor Ollie knew that God was providing a means for moving forward. 

Impact moved its location to Southside and immediately began reaching out to the community. The proximity the church now had was opening a number of opportunities to serve the people around them. Sharing space became less about Sunday, and more about the mission it facilitated throughout the week. Seeing how God was glorified through this partnership, they agreed to continue sharing the building. Moving forward the two churches were united under the banner of Jesus for the good of the city.