Trinity Community Church officially began with a gathering of about ten adults in our home in June 2017. But the Lord had been working for months—actually, years—to bring about this new church. What’s our story?
At Home in Missouri
Jessie and I (Jeremy) are native Missourians and first met here in Columbia in 2003. We were involved with Campus Crusade, studied journalism (her) and microbiology (me) at Mizzou, and graduated in 2006. We were also married in 2006 and, living in our tiny South Columbia apartment, tried to discern what was next.
From 2007 to 2010, we helped start Karis Community Church in downtown Columbia; for the first time, we saw a local church actively involved in evangelism and discipleship. We loved it! After nearly four years serving as volunteer leaders, we felt the Lord calling us to Louisville, Kentucky so I could take an internship with Sojourn Community Church and finish my graduate theological degree at Southern Seminary.
Seven Years in Louisville
But God had big plans for us in Louisville as well: We ended up investing seven years in Sojourn. I became an executive pastor and then a community and counseling pastor during a season of incredible fruitfulness at the church—Sojourn more than tripled in membership, leaders, and even worship gatherings during our seven years there. It was a beautiful season of growth, training, and service.
Our family, meanwhile, was growing as well—to three boys (three boys!) and our first house. We built lifelong friendships, enjoyed leading several community groups in our home, and saw God deepen our faith in him through many great days and many trials, through much joy and much pain.
But in the early months of 2016, though, we began to sense that the Lord was inviting us to a new season of life. We felt that it was time for a “coming home” to our truest gifts and calling, but also the time to come home geographically. We had the strong sense it was time to head back to the state where we grew up, where we are known, and where we could plant ourselves for the second half of our lives.
In the Fall of 2016, with the support, prayer and counsel of close friends and mentors, we settled on returning to Columbia to plant a church. We received immediate support from Sojourn’s pastors and members, and a few our friends have committed to join our mission as well—Mark & Allison Wopata, Lindsey Poenie, Garrett & Nicole Pearson, and Paul & Betsy Arthur have all moved to lead this effort with us. We spent about eight months transitioning out of my role, laying the foundation for the new church, and taking a sabbatical. Around May 1st of this year, we moved into our new home in southwest Columbia.
Upon arriving in Columbia, we began to realize all the ways the Lord had prepared our family and our team to serve and be fruitful here. Some old friends from Kansas City relocated here for work and joined us right away. We met a retired minister who said he’d been praying for a church planter to move into our part of town. Numerous churches and ministries have warmly welcomed us, affirming the need for another Christ centered congregation serving and reaching the unchurched in Columbia.
Our hope has been to plant our family and our team in neighborhoods where we can build and maintain a faithful presence over decades. We have taken jobs in the community where we can cultivate relationships with the unchurched. We have bought houses, enrolled in public schools, and begun to get to know our neighbors. We have opened our homes to young professionals, busy families, grad students, and retired folks.
Our first gathering took place in our home on Sunday, June 11th—on the day traditionally celebrated by the liturgical churches as Trinity Sunday. (We couldn't have planned that any better!)
The Lord Before Us
We have also been incredibly blessed by families, churches, and organizations outside the city. We are currently receiving funding from Sojourn Church (Louisville, KY), Sojourn Network (Louisville, KY), Redeemer Fellowship (Kansas City, MO), Antioch Bible Church (North Kansas City, MO), Karis Church (Columbia, MO), Scarlet City Church (Columbus, OH), Sojourn Church (Beaumont, TX) and Fellowship Associates (Little Rock, AR).
Our desire is not to take the city by storm. We aren’t trying to be the only or the best or the coolest church in town. I often think of Thomas Merton’s statement: God was at work before we got here and will be at work long after we’re gone.
Yet we are confident that the Lord is going before us, making a way for this new work. As he has done for centuries before us, he is gathering a people for himself, for his glory and for the good of his people. Whether we are 15 people or 150, we hope that Trinity Church embodies grace and peace, loves its neighbors, and promotes renewal across the community.
We are joyfully diving into his work here, and we would love to have you or your friends—anyone who doesn’t have a church home in central Missouri—to join us in this incredible adventure!