“Parkway is a big player in reaching the nations,” Oscar Reyes, leader at Iglesia Conexión, told a group of 28 people at an interest meeting about Parkway Baptist Church’s new campus, Parkway North.
The group met in August at 9700 Castleburg Drive in North Chesterfield, where Conexión gathers on Sundays at 12:30 p.m. for worship in Spanish. Starting Easter Sunday, April 12, 2020, Parkway North plans to also meet in that building for worship services in English earlier in the morning. What time, specifically?
“We don’t know, but we’re following the Lord,” was the answer from Parkway Pastors Derek Futrell and Mac Hutton to this and many other questions throughout the night.
While the pastors were honest about not knowing every detail about what Parkway North would be like, it was clear much planning and praying had already gone into Parkway’s church campus initiative.
Futrell and Hutton, Reyes, and Conexión’s pastor, Pablo Claros, told the story about how God sparked the dream back in 2017 for a multi-church building to reach the diverse Chesterfield area with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Conexión’s Heart for Parkway and the Nations in North Chesterfield
Since their beginning in May 2015, Conexión has operated as a church that values sending and supporting international missionaries. Even at home in Chesterfield, they see ample opportunity for the kingdom of God to grow among their neighbors, both English and Spanish speakers.
“We pray for missions, [and] we try to support as best we can,” Reyes said. “We believe the hispanic community has a very important role nowadays in reaching places where English is not the main language. We have to continue reaching the nations, and as weird as it sounds, when I say ‘the nations,’ I’m also talking about Americans. We also have to reach Americans.”
But Conexión is not interested in doing this work alone.
“Parkway is the perfect match for that kind of work,” Reyes said.
Part of Conexión’s journey as a church body was a nine month period of meeting at Parkway’s building in Moseley for Sunday worship services. During that time, Reyes said, “We felt so loved and supported by your church [and] your leaders.”
How God Provided a Meeting Place in North Chesterfield
Gathering at Parkway’s building in Moseley on Sundays was a blessing for Conexión’s congregants, but driving the distance from their homes in North Chesterfield and Henrico County was a challenge. This arrangement proved to be temporary as God worked behind the scenes to provide a more permanent meeting location for Conexión.
In 2017, Crossroads Community Church made the difficult decision to dissolve as a church and sell their building on Castleburg Drive. This congregation did not want to simply sell the land and the building to the highest bidder. Instead, they wanted to ensure a gospel legacy in the surrounding neighborhood, and they approached the SBCV asking how to best accomplish this.
The property was valued at around $400,000, but Crossroads Community Church agreed to sell the land, the building, and its contents (chairs, kitchen supplies, children’s ministry supplies, a projector, etc.) for the remaining balance of their loan, about $30,000.
Larry Black from the SBCV thought of Iglesia Conexión for Crossroad’s generous offer. It was indeed an amazing opportunity, but Conexión couldn’t do it alone. Parkway was also invited into the conversation to consider a co-ownership partnership with Conexión.
“We immediately went into prayer,” Futrell said.
Leadership in Parkway and Conexión met among themselves as well as with each other to pray. First they met at the McDonald’s near Conexión. Then they met at El Paso near Parkway.
“We just dreamed what God might do for Conexión and potentially other churches that might meet here, even Parkway,” Futrell said.
It became clear God’s hand was in the plans and his blessing was over the partnership. The building was purchased, and the 4-year-old Spanish church plant moved into a fully-furnished church building in one of the most diverse neighborhoods Chesterfield County has to offer.
“We’ve been blessed with this place,” Reyes said. “This is a real blessing that came from the Lord, [and] it is for the use of the Lord.”
Conexión has been meeting at the building on Castleburg Drive since January 2018. Almost immediately after they began worship services in Spanish, they were ready for Parkway to join them and host English services.
“It took us 2 years what took them like a week,” Futrell said. “We’re getting there.”
Now Parkway is poised to form a new campus, Parkway North, and commit to serve God in the community of North Chesterfield with Conexión.
Needs in North Chesterfield and in Conexión
“No matter what your economic status, color, or language, probably within 10 minutes of here you could be uncomfortable,” Greg Ayers, Parkway member, said. “There are homes within 10 minutes of here that are very much upper scale. And 10 minutes the other way, there are people who don’t have homes.”
Comparing 2010 and 2018 data from the U.S. Census Bureau reveals increasing racial diversity in Chesterfield County. “All minority racial groups have experienced increases,” the Chesterfield County Demographic Report confirmed.
In addition to racial diversity, the county’s economic diversity has increased. The demographics report found Chesterfield county’s median household income “exceeds that of the region, state, and nation and indicates a generally more affluent locality,” although the median percentage dropped from 2000.
Despite the county’s affluence, over 24,000 people live in poverty as of 2018. “While the county has a lower poverty rate compared to the region, state, and nation, the number of individuals in poverty is growing with an increase of 110 percent since 2000,” according to the report.
Parkway members Rhonda Hawks, Mary Kay Ayers, Ben Cornatzer, and others have been ministering to unchurched kids in Rollingwood for the past five years. Every Thursday, they gather to play games and teach God’s word. But if the kids express an interest in attending church, it has been difficult to get them 30 minutes down the road to Parkway’s campus in Moseley. Parkway North, on the other hand, is about 10 minutes from Rollingwood.
"The Rollingwood team is excited and hopeful that kids and families at Rollingwood will be connected to and find a home at Parkway North," Hawks said.
The Parkway North campus will provide opportunities for service not only during the church’s English morning gatherings, but also during Conexión’s gatherings later in the afternoon.
Most adult members of Conexión came to the United States from Latin American countries. They speak Spanish. “But our kids speak English,” Reyes said. He said having native English speakers is helpful to ensure the kids understand the word of God. For the youth at Conexión, who are growing up in the U.S., English, more so than Spanish, is their heart language, which SIL International defines as “the most effective language for communicating deeply as well as for learning new concepts.”
Many details are yet to be determined, but Parkway is pressing on with the attitude of 2 Chronicles 20:12, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
Currently, they’re looking for folks to commit to either attending Parkway North in 2020 by joining the Launch Team or assisting in other ways by joining the Support Team.
3 Things We Know So Far about Parkway North:
1. Parkway North will be an opportunity for service.
Kyle and Karen Collie were a part of the launch team of Parkway when it was first planted by Swift Creek Baptist Church in 2002. Kyle shared what it was like to serve in a ministry upstart like that.
“You show up on Sunday morning, and you really didn’t know what you might be doing,” he said. “You might be asked to usher, greet at the door, [or] haul chairs.”
Kyle and Karen modeled service that August evening at the interest meeting by opening doors and greeting people.
“You probably never saw us standing at the door, greeting at Parkway,” Kyle said. “It’s not that we don’t have that opportunity at Parkway, but there are other people filling that.”
Parkway North will not only provide opportunities for service at the new campus, but also at Parkway Moseley’s campus. Some currently serving who join Parkway North’s launch team will leave vacancies that will need to be filled by others at Parkway Moseley.
“[Parkway North] is an intentional opportunity to be on mission,” Hutton said. “Our mission is more of a mindset than it is a location.”
2. Parkway North is a church campus, not a church plant.
This means Parkway North will have the same vision as Parkway Moseley of reaching neighbors and nations with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Parkway North will also represent the same culture and values as well as a similar experience as Parkway Moseley. The new campus will have the same sermon series and age-graded ministry opportunities.
However, some things will be different between the two campuses. Parkway North will have a different preacher than the Moseley campus, and the sermons may include different applications. Although the sermon series will likely cover the same topics at both campuses, there may be occasions when the needs of one campus require a different sermon series than the other campus. The needs of the campus and surrounding community may also result in different Prayer Points. The new campus will also have different small groups available.
3. Pastor Mac Hutton will pastor Parkway North.
The posture of partnership has been a theme throughout the years of meetings among Parkway and Conexión leadership. When Conexión was first planted in 2015, Futrell said Mac Hutton was key in maintaining that partnership by continuing to meet with Conexión leaders.
“He made sure that partnership was happening for two years before I ever came here,” Futrell said. “Mac made sure Parkway cared about Conexión.”
Working together in gospel community is a crux of Parkway Baptist Church in Moseley, VA and will continue as a value and practice with Parkway North. The new campus plans to work for the sake of the gospel not by themselves, but with Parkway Moseley, Conexión, and other evangelical churches in the area.
“We want to lock arms with the churches already here,” Hutton said. “And we’re not taking a posture of ‘We know what we’re doing here, so let us take over.’” Rather, Mac said he has a list of eight pastors in the area with whom to meet and build relationships.
“We’re here to help you guys on that task,” Reyes said. “It’s not going to be easy; we know it. But it is something the Lord has put in our path, and I believe he’s given us the tools to do it. You can count on us; I wanted to say that from our congregation. You have us here to help you. We want you to feel welcome in this place. This is also your home. We hope we can be the help you need to complete your work you were sent here to do.”
“This is like a dream come true, honestly,” Futrell said. “[It’s] something we’ve prayed for in December 2017, and now we’re watching that happen.”
If you missed the interest meeting but would like to learn more about joining Parkway North Launch Team or Support Team, email Pastor Mac at email@example.com.
Also, consider attending one or more of the prayer gatherings and service opportunities this Fall as Parkway prepares to launch the new campus Easter 2020.
Community Prayer Walking:
Saturday, September 14th at 10:00am - 12:00pm
Monday, September 30th at 12:00pm - 1:00pm
Thursday, October 10th at 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Sunday, October 13th at 4:00pm - 6:00pm
Sunday, October 20th at 4:00pm - 6:00pm
Saturday, October 26th at 2:00pm - 4:00pm
A Community Bible Study:
Goal - by January 1, 2020
Written by Emily Hall.
A member of Parkway Baptist Church