Vision tours create win-win for Christ in Boston

Myke Wilkerson, Brandon and Miryam Allison from Truevine Church in Revere, MA address potential partners yesterday in Cambridge, MA

CAMBRIDGE, MA – They would not have met otherwise. Tonight, they are eating cannolis together at the famous Mike’s Pastries in the North End of Boston’s downtown.

Sometimes that is what it takes for a pastor in Texas to really understand what church planting in Boston is like. Other leaders came from other states too. Five men in all, they came for a two-day vision tour September 17 and 18 to meet with almost a dozen planters from the Greater-Boston area.

“It is great to be able to come and just get our feet on the ground,” said one pastor, this one from Tennessee.

They were all in Boston for the event hosted by Curtis Cook and Joe Souza. Both are pastors in Boston. Both serve also as North American Mission Board ambassadors. Cook, of Hope Fellowship in Cambridge where the event was held, is officially Boston’ s SEND NA City Coordinator, while Souza, from Celebration Church in Saugus, is Boston’s Lead Church Planting Catalyst. These are the men charged and called to assist church planters both coming to Boston, and maybe just as importantly staying in Boston.

“Our new church failure rate over the last five years has been zero percent,” Souza said, as he addressed the group.

The emphasis is on long-term partnerships. And praise the Lord, through Cook’s efforts and with some help from other state conventions, the second of two visions tours this year was a blessing to all those involved.

“I am excited to be here,” said a pastor from North Carolina.  “We are here to ask God how our church can be on mission specifically in this place.”

They met in the church. They rode on the T together, and had dinner together in Boston. Altogether, it was just maybe six or eight hours. But the new relationship can last a lifetime, and impact lives for the kingdom exponentially.

“Long-term partnerships are the key,” Souza said. “We cannot rely on NAMB funding to get these guys to that five-year mark. It has to be a combination of a maturing congregation, NAMB support and mainly outside partners who can help carry the load.

“I am praying all the time for more and more solid partnerships. And praise the Lord, through these vision tours and other ways, we are seeing real fruit.”


End-of-the-Year Party a huge blessing

Boston Church Planting End-of-the-year Party 2012 from Boe Ellis on Vimeo.

WATERTOWN, MA – Church planting in Boston is a family affair. Praise the Lord the family is growing, as more then 200 planters, wives and kids were in attendance for the third-annual Boston Church Planting  End-of-the-Year Party on November 30, 2012 in Watertown.

“This is what we are all about,” said pastor / planter Tom Cabral from Fall River, MA. “We drove like an hour and a half to be here. It’s great to be with the guys. It’s great for our wives to get together. And it’s great for the kids.”

It was a great time for everyone involved. The kids all received early Christmas presents compliments of Steve Nerger and the Baptist Convention of New England. And the pastors, apprentices, staff members and their wives, compliments of Micah Millican and the North American Mission Board, all received gift cards as just a small token of gratitude for their steadfast work in one of the least reached areas in North America.

Yet, for all the great food, fellowship, great music and gifts. nothing compares with family. Boston Church Planters have got each other’s backs, and their families’ too.

“This is just something we feel we should do,” said Joe Souza, NAMB Lead Catalyst for the area. “We want our planters to know if you come to Boston, you will never be alone. And Christmas is just the perfect time to love on our guys, their wives, their families and their kids. It’s just awesome what God is doing here in Boston.

“Three years ago, we may have had 25 people at this event. And just look at the way God is growing our family. I am very, very humbled and amazed by the whole thing.”

Amazing indeed. As the kids were grabbing for toys it was Souza, Master of Ceremonies, introducing the band from his own Celebration Church in Saugus, MA. And earlier it was Souza’s wife Patricia, and his sister Anna, with the help of Bree Cobb from the BCNE, serving up all the food. Still earlier, all of their kids got in on the action putting out tablecloths and setting up.

And to think just nine years ago the Souzas were not even in Boston. Neither were most of the families present at the dinner. Souza made light of this fact recognizing the “grandfather” in the room, Curtis Cook, lead planter from Hope Fellowship which was planted  in Cambridge, MA in 2003. Other old-timers included James Thomasson who planted in Taunton, MA in 2006.

Since that time no fewer than two dozen planters from all over the world have answered God’s call to come and plant in Boston. And they are starting now to raise up and send out planters from multiple church planting centers.

So, as the Boston Church Planting family celebrated the end of 2012, it was also preparing to welcome in 2013, a year in which it has already more than 20 planters in the pipeline; planters like Shane Colwell who with his wife Amy arrived in Greater Boston just two weeks ago to plant in Worcester, MA; or planters like Brandon Allison who with his wife Miriam and a team from Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, TX arrived just three months ago to plant a church in Revere.

They come – all of them – to proclaim what has been called by many the greatest miracle of all, that the Son of God would come and live among them.

And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased! (Luke 2:10-14)

“What a blessing,” Souza commented after the party. “It’s great that it’s over and we don’t have to have a heart attack anymore. But, it’s greater that everybody had a good time, and they know how much we really love them and thank them for their work for the Kingdom.”

Liberty Church Planting Network agrees to formalize partnership

Liberty Church Planting Network agrees to formalize partnership with Boston Church Planting

LYNCHBURG, VA – God is calling men to plant churches in Boston. And whether by convention, association, network, or by blood, sweat and tears, Joe Souza is praying every day for God to deliver also the relationships that result in support for those who are called.

A little more of God’s plan was revealed, and many of Souza’s prayers answered, in Lynchburg, VA Tuesday morning as the Liberty Church Planting Network (LCPN) agreed to move ahead with the process to formalize a partnership with Boston Church Planting.

“These guys are already doing what we want to do,” said LCPN Director Ryan Jones as he introduced Souza to the Board. “So, I wanted Joe to come and tell us how we can work together.”

Asking Souza to talk about his Boston Church Planting team is like asking a dad to talk about his kids. And talk Souza did, describing first the training and mentoring piece Jones was referring to.

“We have a good thing going,” Souza said. “We just want to see more church planters coming to Boston. And we are prepared now, better than ever, to receive them and plug them into our training; to help them figure out what they need to know about the New England culture. Contextualization.

“We hook the guy up to the church plant that most looks like what he is going to do. And in the process he is getting hands-on experience. He builds up his core group, or works together with his team. And we have seen in anywhere from six month to a year he is ready to go and launch publicly. That is the strategy that has paid off.”

It is a strategy for training and supporting church planters in Boston that the LCPN was looking for. Its core activity is assessing, mentoring, training, funding and sending usually first-time church planters. The LCPN employs a formal, three-day trainings plus ongoing, one-on-one mentoring in its established training centers in Raleigh, NC and in Washington, DC.

The Network – which was founded in 1980 by Dr. Jerry Falwell and has funded hundreds of church plants all over the country – already has one seasoned planter in Boston. He is Liberty grad Josh Wyatt of Charles River Church. And the LCPN is planning soon to send another fully-funded planter from Liberty to work with Wyatt and eventually plant out of Charles River Church.

So why not think about about a regional training center in Boston? Exactly.

“You have articulated exactly what our heartbeat is,” said LCPN Board President, Brian Mentzer of Riverdale Baptist Church in Upper Marlboro, MD. “We want to see more hubs and partnerships. I am all in, I think everybody around the table is all in. I think it’s awesome.”

Board Member Larry Lamberth, of Harvest Baptist Church in Burlington, NC, provided maybe the ah-ha moment of the meeting. ‘So you don’t want our money?” he asked.

“No,” exclaimed Souza, speaking as Boston’s North American Mission Board representative and Lead Church Planting Catalyst. “In fact we have money for your guys. We can put funding alongside the funding you are providing. We also have internship money and apprenticeships, and often special funding for certain advertising campaigns and help for outreach events too. We just want to do what works.”

Next, the question everyone had been waiting for: “What about our guys who are not [partnering with the] SBC? Can they still plug into the training center?” asked Lamberth.

Souza responded with a quick and definitive yes. “We are all about reaching the 99 / 98 percent of our neighbors who are dying and going to hell every day. So we are not going to sit around and hang on our differences as much as we are going to try and plug those guys in with a group of guys who can keep them on track and help them succeed, especially when we know they are coming through your assessment, having walked with you guys for five / six months, sometimes a year. That is awesome.

“We will let those guys know what is available, and work with them to make our funds available to them, but be sure, all of our guys have committed to the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 and are contributing at least six percent to the Cooperative Program.”

Finally, as the meeting drew to a close the Board expressed its unanimous approval and even offered a number of ways it would help promote Boston Church Planting to Liberty students and others.

After the meeting, Souza sighed and reflected, “man, God is just awesome. I am so excited about what He is doing. It is so much bigger than you or I can even imagine.”

Souza said the next step is to keep doing what they are already doing to work with the LCPN, and to provide them with a formal covenant which should be reviewed and signed jointly sometime hopefully in June. [clear /]
Contact Boe Ellis of Boston Church Planting at or by phone (919) 671-9871.

Boston CP event at Liberty University February 28

Save the date. Boston Church Planting will be representing in Lynchburg, VA later this month at Liberty University during its Church Planting Emphasis Week.

Event: ** Free food and time to hang with students **

When: Tuesday February 28, 2012 at 6:00 p.m.

Where: Religion Hall 116

Who: James Thomasson from Taunton will be traveling in fact to Josh Wyatt’s alma mater. Josh will be representing and promoting from Boston.

Why: Our purpose in Lynchburg, VA, and at all the seminaries or anywhere else we travel is to promote church planting in Boston for the glory of Christ; to share the need for the gospel in our area and to encourage students and future church planters to pray and to come!

Flyer: [ Click here to download .pdf ] Thank you for promoting this event to anyone you know in that part of the country.

Contact Boe Ellis for info:, (9 1 9) 6 7 1 – 9 8 7 1.


Marc Simeon covenants to bring Haitian church into the family

NEEDHAM. MA – From right: Pastor Marc Simeon with sponsor church pastor Emmanuel Fontaine.  Behind: Eileen Fullerton of the GBBA with NAMB Strategist Joe Souza.

NEEDHAM, MA – A mission that began in Haiti and led to Boston nearly 27 years ago has come full circle. And Pastor Marc Simeon is “back in Boston for good,” he exclaimed last December as he signed a covenant agreement to become a member of the Boston Church Planting family.

It was at that End-of-the-Year Christmas party in 2011 he made things official, but it was actually in the late 1960s, early 1970s when his story began in Haiti.

“I can’t remember a time when I did not know Jesus, ” said Simeon, who grew up a the son of a deacon and singer in the local church. His father later made it to the U.S. and in 1985, at the age of 18, Simeon came to join him in Boston.

Simeon began his Christian service in earnest then in 1986 at Bethesda Haitian Baptist Church. “I was teaching Sunday schools, presiding over services as youth leader and I began to sense a call,” Simeon said.

He married in 1992, and moved to Orlando, FL to serve with Philadelphia Haitian Baptist Church. He moved back to Boston the first time in 1997, when “the call was so obvious I began going to Bible school.” He completed his undergrad in Pastoral Care and Urban ministry at Gordon Conwell. He was ordained in 2001 back at Bethesda.

Just two years later, Simeon answered the call to further his theological training and found himself at Mid-America Baptsit Theological Seminary in Germantown TN. His travels continued: he moved to Georgia in 2007 then back to Orlando, and finally in what he sensed as a surrender-type of moment, back to Boston, the place his ministry had begun. It was July, 2010 and it was time to start a church.

“I knew I wanted to to start a Baptist church,” he said. And in August of that year Christ the Rock Congregation, located at 535 Canton Avenue in Milton, MA was born.

 Simeon finally connected with NAMB Strategist Joe Souza in 2011 and “things started moving fast,” he said. “Joe helped me with all the paperwork and got me plugged in with all the other planters. It was all good to finally connect, and we have been welcomed. We are on the same mission. I even saw people we have not seen since my time at Bethesda. So it was a lot like coming home.”

Contact Marc Simeon at (857) 318-4215

Christmas party a family affair


NEEDHAM. MA – With good tidings of great joy, the Boston Church Planting team welcomed the season of our Savior’s birth with its End-of-the-Year Church Planter Family Celebration. Held on December 9, 2011 at the GBBA, and with the help also of the BCNE, there were more than 120 people in attendance, including our church planters, wives and kids; lots of kids.

It was a time of food, fun, fellowship, and reflection on the True Gift; our Savior Jesus. It was a time to come together in worship and prayer, and gift giving. And in what was surely the highlight of the evening, the kids put together an impromptu singing performance (with a special thanks Jackie Souza).

“It was really cool,” said Jackie’s dad Joe Souza. “She got all of the church planter’s kids, like 40 of them, and did a singing thing. It was like a little Choir.”

Souza, the Boston area Lead Catalyst for NAMB, was beaming on this night, not just for his own daughter, or for the kids on the stage, but for all of the church planters and their families that have given their lives in the service of Christ in the Greater Boston area.

They are veterans. They are brand new planters. They are native New Englanders. They are from Kentucky, Estonia, Brazil and Haiti… All for the King born in a manger in Bethlehem; a merry Christmas indeed.


Boston Hosts Church Planter Network Leader Training

From NAMB.Net – read the entire article below or click here


By Joe Conway

Church planting leaders from across North America will converge on Boston, September 21-23, to discover the most effective ideas for prayer, strategy development and other essentials for building church-planting networks. The three-day event—led by Gary Irby, a church planting catalyst and church planting director for Seattle Church Planting—is known as the Network Leader School for Church Planting.

The school, co-sponsored by the North American Mission Board, is in part designed for new NAMB church planting strategists to assist them in their new roles.

In addition to Irby, other experienced church planters will lead sessions on recruitment and assessment, coaching, caring for church planter wives, communication practices and ethnic strategies, among many others. The event will also include church planter round table discussions.

“One of the greatest benefits to participants is removing the need to reinvent the wheel,” said Irby. “Learning what strategies and resources are already available will help them leap ahead without needing to start from the ground up. In addition, the school will help them think through areas they may not have addressed previously, or have no experience with.”

The NLS is a three-day intensive experience through which participants immerse themselves in learning, planning and implementation, according to Irby. The process allows participants to jump years ahead by building on the experience of others who have spent more than a decade in developing church planting strategies and systems.

Participants should expect to learn the components of how to put together a working strategy for an effective church-planting network. Whether they are starting from scratch or have bits and pieces already formulated, this school will teach the nuts and bolts (and beyond) of how to lead that network. Beyond head knowledge, the school incorporates exercises designed for the participant to work through their own strategy as they go through the school, Irby said.

Irby said the NLS is for anyone who is currently leading a church-planting network or who plans to do so in the future. “It is for church planting missionaries and strategists, church-planting network leaders, directors of missions, pastors of reproducing churches, missions pastors or anyone who wants to develop their own church planting strategies and systems,” said Irby.

NLS will be hosted at Celebration Church, Stonehill Corporate Center in Saugus, Mass. The event will begin with registration at 8 a.m. on Wednesday and conclude at 3 p.m. on Friday. Registration is $279, which includes event resources, lunches and snacks each day.

To register, or for more information, visit, or contact Natalie Hammond, 425-640-3676.

Joe Conway is a writer for the North American Mission Board.

Date Created: 8/19/2011 4:59:40 PM

Nerger and BCNE to expand

BOSTON – Steve Nerger of the Baptist Convention of New England ( announced today the expansion of the new Web-based initiative at Building on a concept that was launched in April, 2011 with a series of online videos, Nerger and BCNE church planting strategist Joe Souza are moving now into Phase II: identifying and profiling the top 30 target cities for church planting in the greater-Boston area.

“There is such a tremendous need in the Boston area.” Souza said. “Our plan is to profile the top 30 target areas and just keep that momentum going.  We need thousands of churches here. And we have to be able to package vital information online for potential church planters. That is our present push.”

The 30 towns to be studied will be split equally between the North Shore and the South Shore. Each will be organized on into a new sub-site called “inTown,” where demographic data, images and testimonials will drive home the core message of each community. The end goal of the current project, according to Nerger, is to really relate to potential church planters the vibe of a town; its strengths, challenges, and needs.

And in Boston, an area that is less than two percent evangelical, there are sure to be certain aspects of a community that are shared across community lines. Yet, each town still has its own history, its own character and culture. That’s why they call them “townies” up here.  There is a deep, long tradition of family and town pride that has been forged primarily by Catholicism and Universalist type of world view thinking.

Still, a God-breathed blitz of  Southern Baptist church planters coming to Boston over the last two years has given Souza and Nerger a lot to be encouraged about.

“Boston church planting is on the move,” Souza said. “Our hope is that God will continue to send church planters here, and that we will be able to steer them faithfully into effective ministries in our communities.”

Chris Bass Church Planter Boston Watertown

BOSTON –  announced today the launch of its interview and video with Chris Bass, church planter and pastor of Redeemer Fellowship Church, Watertown, MA.

Watertown –One of the greatest challenges in planting a church in Boston is finding an affordable place to meet. Most look for a school or maybe a storefront. Chris Bass bought a 35,000 SF church in Watertown, MA. It is definitely not the norm. Find out how and why inside Redeemer Fellowship Church

Click here for the Watertown page.