In 2011 Adventist pastors in the St. Louis, Missouri, metro area, population 2.8 million, began meeting together on a regular basis. They formed a cross-conference ministerial association to collaborate together to evangelize the city. This grassroots movement of laypeople and pastors became known as Adventist Ministers and Pastors of St. Louis (AMPS), and now consists of representatives from 14 local churches.
As in many metropolitan areas, the pastors realized that the members of their churches did not know and rarely fellowshipped with members from other congregations, especially if those congregations were in different conferences.
The pastors asked themselves, “Can we do more to have a positive impact if we work together?”
The first event organized by AMPS was Equipping University, a lay training and discipleship program. More than 220 people from different churches, conferences, and parts of the metro area, from the suburbs to the inner city, came and became acquainted as they enjoyed fellowship, training, and worship.
Local churches now take turns hosting various events with a special year-end prayer meeting that includes a Communion service.
After a challenge by AMPS to form a lay ministries team, a group of dedicated lay members, called the St. Louis Seventh-day Adventist Lay Ministries Committee (SLSLM), was formed. Its mission is to find and create mission projects in the St. Louis area, and invite members from all over St. Louis to participate. Its first project, the Jericho Project, focused on Ferguson, Missouri. Beginning with a mailing to residents, team members followed up by going door to door, visiting homes that had received the mailing. They prayed with people, left a packet with inspirational materials, and collected contact information for those interested in future events. In light of recent events in Ferguson, and events occurring in various parts of the country, AMPS chose “Unity in Diversity” as its theme for the 2015 camp meeting.
In the first collaboration for an evangelistic series, David Klinedinst, resident evangelist for the Iowa-Missouri Conference, and pastors Bryan Mann and Joseph Ikner, of the Central States Conference, joined to present a series at the Northside Seventh-day Adventist Church, subtitled “The Truth, in Black and White.”
Bringing the message of the gospel of peace to the St. Louis metro area will take going beyond just accepting our differences. It will take learning to see the value of those differences as we seek to fulfill our mission.
Instead of the St. Louis area camp meeting this year, we are hosting the 2016 Evangelism Summit for the St. Louis metro area. Our theme is “Discipleship Evangelism.”
We hope this journey will inspire other metro areas to find ways to collaborate as pastors, lay members, churches, and conferences to reach their cities as well.
Leslie Olin, a pastor’s wife, lives and serves in St. Louis, Missouri.