Missions and Outreach

missionscouncil7Missions and Outreach Minders and Modelers

The Mission and Outreach Minders and Modelers (MOMM) of The Church of the Cross exists to provide coordination and oversight of various mission and outreach activities of our church, locally, nationally, and globally. MOMM accepts applications for mission and outreach visions and opportunities and then makes recommendations to the Rector
and Vestry for final approval.

Application for Mission and Outreach Visions and Opportunities

Guiding Principle: To be followers of Jesus Christ committed to transforming lives in His power and for His glory by being witnesses in “Jerusalem, and all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”.

Vision: To facilitate and guide TCOTC in its efforts to live into the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.

Mission: To focus on identifying, as well as soliciting from the parish, mission and outreach visions and opportunities that reflect God’s love and reach those who have not embraced the Gospel.

Mission and Outreach Opportunities

Mission and Outreach in Action

“Declare His glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.” 1 Chronicles 16:24

Very soon our 3,037 shoeboxes will be shipped to children around the world. Just imagine the joy on the face of each child as they are given a gift-packed shoebox of their very own. For many children it is the only gift they have ever received. We are reminded that what goes into the shoebox is fun but what comes out is eternal.
After receiving the shoebox gifts, many boys & girls are invited to enroll in The Greatest Journey, a 12- lesson discipleship program. Through this program, local ministries are able to establish long-term caring relationships with children & families by sharing the love of Jesus.

This year our church & school filled almost 1,400 shoeboxes. Cross Schools was this year’s DROP-OFF LOCATION for Bluffton & the surrounding communities and during our shoebox collection week, we sorted, counted and crated a total of 3,037 shoeboxes. Those boxes were then transported to Beaufort, then on to Charlotte to the processing center and from there to countries around the world.

What a privilege it has been to do His work. We are thankful for all the prayers, the loving hearts of the donors & the volunteers, we could not have done it without you! TO GOD BE THE GLORY!
Elisabeth Markle
Phyllis Ehlers
Leslie Albert  

Operation Christmas Child 2018– Image 1 of 17


“Te Doy Gloria” - I Give You Glory!

On July 24th, 6 members of The Church of the Cross and 6 members of St. Paul’s, Conway left for Lima, Peru. Our hearts were open for whatever God had in store for us. We knew that our host, pastor Anderson Sanchez was very interested in learning about our healing ministry when we met him 3 years ago. We knew also that the Peruvians would be celebrating their independence day.

Our week began with celebrations with the children at Santísima Trinidad (Holy Trinity Anglican church), Cristo Redentor (Christ The Redeemer) and Misión San Pedro (Saint Peter’s mission). Pastor Jason & Pastor Anderson then led us throughout the week in healing services, not only in these churches but also out into the villages. We saw the Holy Spirit at work and we witnessed miracles. To God be the glory!

We saw extreme poverty but we also saw joy and the love of Jesus on the faces & in the hearts of the people of Peru. We saw healing, hope, and resilience and God working in mighty ways! For all of this we can only say, thanks be to God!

Bruce & Phyllis Ehlers and our team-Shirley, Josh, Victoria, Luke, Jason, Jeanne, Ginny, Larry, Heather & Nancy.


Peru mission trip-2018– Image 1 of 10



God called HEAL Ministries to be a leader in Uganda in family preservation and sustainability.  In January, 2013, the James Place opened as a community center for the abandoned women and children HEAL would serve for years to come. Recenty a Pre-School opened to serve the little children...here are pictures of the Grand Opening:

HEAL Ministries Pre-School Grand Opening– Image 1 of 17


Aleph Ministries Madagascar – Mike & Yvonne Broadhurst

In the summer of 2017, The Church of the Cross offered financial support to Mike and Yvonne Broadhurst’s special evangelism outreach to Toliara.

Toliara is in the southwest section of Madagascar.  It is the poorest section of the country, which in itself is the sixth poorest country in the world.  Starvation is an ongoing crisis in the Toliara area, as reported by the World Bank.  Nearly 1 million people are in desperate straights, their main sustenance a wild berry that grows in the desert-like conditions and causes constipation. 

The outreach was a huge success. A new church was begun with 50 parishioners and in the process of the gospel being preached people were saved and healed.  Many were fed and clothed. 

Mike and Yvonne stated: “Your loving kindness was a part of carrying out the Great Commission and we thank you for your participation.  Won't you please let all of the brothers and sisters at Church of the Cross know of the great work that they are participating in here in Madagascar.”


Aleph Ministries Madagascar– Image 1 of 9


Bishop Qampicha Wario of Marsabit (Kenya) visits The Church of the Cross

The Church of the Cross has been providing outreach support to the Diocese of Marsabit for over 3 years.

Below you will find the E-mail that Bishop Qampicha Wario of Marsabit in Kenya sent to express his gratitude (and some beau:

Dear John

God’s grace and peace be with you and with all you love and serve in Christ Jesus.

I pray this email finds you and God’s faithful Christians at Church of the cross well.

We praise God for a great rainy season which we have had bringing to an end at least for now the devastating drought of the last two years.

We further praise God, that with the funding from church of the cross bluffton a new classroom is complete and in use at ACK Wings Academy. The same grant has helped us pay the salary of two teachers and we now have 100 students receiving quality education in a Christian environment. This could not have been possible without your gracious support. Once again thank you and God bless you all.

We have also received the penpal letters for the students of Tumaini Academy and the students are so excited. The parcel came after the schools were closed and we only gave them recently after they have resumed back for this term. We will send their pictures soon.

John below I am sharing pictures of the two classes built with funds from Church of the cross and the pictures of the students.

Once again, we are so grateful for the gift of the partnership of church of the cross and Marsabit Diocese.

Please pass our love and regards and our sincere appreciation to the mission committee and to the entire Christians of church of the cross.

Together for Christ

Bishop Qampicha 



Hurricane Relief

Hurricane Harvey has left Houston in its deadly wake. Literally tens of thousands of people have seen their homes inundated by floodwaters during this unprecedented storm, which dumped more than 50 inches of rain along the Texas coast.

The Mission and Outreach Minders and Modelers recommended and the vestry approved the following funds for the hurricane relief efforts in Houston - $ 5000 to the Anglican Relief and Development Fund and $ 5000 to Samaritan¹s Purse.

Hurricane Harvey Relief– Image 1 of 4

Family Promise

Last Tuesday, The Church of the Cross, in conjunction with The Campbell AME Church, hosted a dinner for 18 people who are currently guests of Family Promise of Bluffton. Family Promises' mission is to provide food, shelter and support services to displaced families, with children, in our community.

The Dinner Ministry of TCOTC provided the food, members of the Missions and Outreach Team (MOMM) set up and served the food and other members of the church spent the night with the guests. The evening was a huge success and it was evidenced by the smiles and hugs shared by all. It was a blessing to be a part of this ministry.

We are planning on participating in this ongoing program about once a quarter in the future. If you are interested in being a part of this wonderful outreach opportunity, please contact the Parish Office, 843-757-2661 or Lynn Oberg, 724-612-4574.


Devastating Floods in Peru in March 2017 displace Tens of Thousands

Mudslides have struck across the Andean nation where dozens have been killed and many of the hardest hit are those who can least afford it.

Two years ago on their mission trip, Phyllis and Bruce Ehlers and Pastor Jason Collins met Anderson Sanchez, a priest in Lima, Peru and entered into a working relationship with him. Anderson has been helping many of those effected by the floods. The Church of the Cross has provided financial support to Father Sanchez for the purpose of providing water to those who are unable to get potable water. The 12 large containers provided as many as 24 families with water for two weeks. The Church of the Cross is pleased to have been able to assist our Brothers and Sisters in Christ in the middle of this crisis. Praise God. 

Peru Mudslide– Image 1 of 9

Habitat for Humanity "Apostles Build house"

The home built by Habitat for Humanity was completed! 

Habitat for Humanity Finished Home– Image 1 of 6


Habitat for Humanity "Apostles Build House"– Image 1 of 13


Rise Against Hunger
Stop Hunger Now Header.JPG

Over 160 volunteers from The Church of the Cross gathered last Saturday at the Buckwalter Campus to package meals for those less fortunate than themselves.

The auditorium at the Cross Schools Campus was filled with the Holy Spirit as volunteers raced to fill their bags and our younger generation “runners” continue to resupply the stations and take the bags to the sealing stations before they were boxed and loaded on the truck.

The multi-generational event, including ages 4 and up involved a team concept to package vitamins, vegetables, soy and rice together into meal packets that will be shipped by Rise Against Hunger to locations around the world as they strive toward their vision of ending hunger in our lifetime.

In just a little bit over 2 hours the volunteers packed 49,680 meals, which were boxed, packed and are ready to provide meals for people around the world.

Rise against Hunger is driven by the vision of a world without hunger and we are blessed to be part of this!


Rise Against Hunger 2017– Image 1 of 14



A Successful Trip… Serving in LOVE

Eighth grade Cross School students successfully completed their mission trip in December 2017. The class traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina to work at the Operation Christmas Child Processing Center for two days. We are thankful to The Church of the Cross’ Mission’s Committee for funding this wonderful opportunity for our school. 

The trip was a tremendous success as we were able to help pack many boxes to be shipped to children around the world. It was rewarding and humbling to participate in this large-scale project that touches the lives of so many!  This year Samaritan’s Purse expects to collect 12 million Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts that will be delivered to children in more than 100 countries. The shoeboxes are an opportunity to communicate God’s love and to share the Gospel with children in some of the world’s poorest, hardest-to-reach communities. 

On Tuesday morning, our students along with chaperones (Leslie Albert, Brad Schultz, Pam Donahue, Leslie Hunter, and Andrea Simonson) traveled to Charlotte.  Upon arrival everyone worked a four-hour shift carefully inspecting and preparing boxes for overseas shipment.  Jobs included removing financial contributions, inspecting boxes for unapproved items, stuffing boxes, taping boxes and packing large cartons for shipment. 

It was a special time at the Processing Center as they were processing boxes for what are considered ‘sensitive’ or ‘hard to reach’ countries. These countries are those where Christians are being persecuted or they are culturally hard to reach. These boxes had to have extra care taken in the packaging and even further inspection of items that may be deemed as inappropriate in those countries. Students stayed focused, learned the proper criteria and were able to really enjoy their time serving. Tuesday’s boxes were being packed for the countries of Uruguay, Malawi and 2 sensitive countries. 

Wednesday morning students returned to the facility to work a four-hour shift and packed boxes for the countries in South America and ‘Hard to Reach’ countries. The final box count on Wednesday at 2pm was 38,700! 

Overall, it was a great learning and serving experience. Students got to love others by serving. It was also enlightening to see a packing and distribution center first hand. Students really poured themselves into this ministry and truly gave their best effort! We are very proud and thankful to all the eighth grade students… way to share the love of Christ! 

Student Quotes about the Trip: 

  • We helped poor children with nothing know the love of Jesus.
  • I enjoyed being able to help ship boxes to poor children because it is a thing that made me feel like I was helping someone.
  • The work we did on the trip spreads the love of Christ because the presents are cool and some kids have never heard of Him.
  • I liked looking at what people put in the boxes.
  • It gives kids around the world a chance to know the Lord.
  • Cool things I saw in boxes were: a sewing kit, fishing kit, fabric, bibles, mini guitar, feminine products, Frisbee.
  • I would recommend the trip- it was a lot of fun, spending time with friends and serving God.
  • I got blisters on my hand from taping boxes. I taped over 700 boxes so my hand was hurting but it was so worth it.
  • A great moment was when we packed a perfect box for shipment … we all signed the box!



Operation Christmas Childoperation christmas child logo 

From October 29 - November 13, The Church of the Cross passed out and collected shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. The response was wonderful, surpassing the 2015 program.

In total we collected 577 Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes on both campuses.

A big Thank you to all of our members and our volunteers who supported this wonderful cause.

A small shoebox can teach a child in need about the love of God and lead him or her to faith in Christ. You are a part of changing lives through the power of a simple gift.

As we work around the world, our goal is to share the hope of the Gospel.

A small gift makes a big difference!


 The Hope of Jesus Mission Trip


On August 15th, our mission team traveled to The Hope Of Jesus Children’s Home in El Venado, Honduras. It included Bruce & Phyllis Ehlers, Sheryl & Davis Maddux, Regine Johnson, Doris Gainey & Joe Redgate. The home is operated by SAMS missionaries, Mike & Kim Miller.

Our week consisted of sharing the love of Jesus in crafts, music, birthday parties & soccer games with the 16 children who reside at the home. We were blessed by a special worship service on Wednesday night lead by the children. Their love of Jesus was truly evident. On Sunday we worshiped at the local Anglican church.

We traveled to several remote villages, many without running water or electricity bringing water filters and medication to those infected with Leishmaniasis, a parasitic disease spread by the bite of infected sand flies. The village had eight cases.

We worked alongside some local Hondurans to construct a greenhouse on the property of the children’s home which will be used to grow fruits, vegetables and coffee beans to support the needs of the children.

Our experiences were many and we saw God’s presence in every aspect of our trip. We pray for the people of Honduras and for Mike & Kim as they continue their mission to glorify God through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Bruce & Phyllis Ehlers




Young Life Camp

This summer, Young Life took a bus full of kids up to the mountains of North Carolina for "the best week of their life!" The Church of the Cross, through our Mission and Outreach Minders and Modelers, supported this effort.

Many kids who had never known who Jesus was were introduced to Him and offered the possibility of a relationship with Him.

The week was filled with zip lining, Frisbee golf, paddleboards, mountain bikes and learning who the God of the Universe really is.

After coming home, kids met every night for two weeks as they talked through scripture and worked to build a community of kids that are all trying follow Jesus at home.

Please continue to pray for the staff and volunteers as they chase kids in the local high schools around Hilton Head and Bluffton!

The Church of the Cross’ support of the Young Life Camp helped to bring these young men and women, who would not have had the opportunity otherwise, to a special week and walk with the Gospel.



Young Life Camp 2016– Image 1 of 4



Hope for Life Homes, Russia - Update

What can we bring to foster children in Russia who live over 8,000 miles away from us? From July 23 – July 2, 2016, when The Church of the Cross sent Barbara Scott to Russia, along with the Homes for Life Team, we learned the answer to this question. In addition to seven (7) suitcases filled with hand selected arts and crafts items, Legos, vitamins, underwear, clothing, necklaces and notes among other thoughtful gifts, we were able to bring the Light of Christ in a tangible way. The Gospel is alive through the Hope For Life (HFL) Homes, Russia ministry, offering hope in the world of these children that was previously filled with darkness and uncertainty. HFL truly reaches those who were previously unloved, unwanted and who bear the scars of an orphaned heart. Not only is the Love of Christ evident within these homes but the families reach out to others and willingly share what little they have.

Their generosity reminds me of Mark 12:44, “They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything--all she had to live on." We are so blessed in so many ways and we cannot underestimate how even a small gift can be so meaningful to someone that we don’t even know.

The parents and children were very grateful that we made the journey to Far Eastern Russia. The children immensely enjoyed the gift bags and played with the toy and craft type items for days. Nothing can replace how good it was to see the smiling faces and receive the numerous hugs!
One special highlight was witnessing two (2) of the HFL 1 girls, Anya and Tanya, be baptized in the Sea of Japan.

Into the darkness Christ truly does shine and out of the ashes these children have a chance to rise with hope for a brighter future, one where the promises of Christ can be realized in their lives.
Your continued prayers for Hope For Life (HFL) Homes, Russia, and each of the children, are greatly appreciated!

Pictures from the June 23 - July 2, 2016 Mission Trip


Hope for Life Homes, Russia June 23, 2016 Trip– Image 1 of 20

Hope For Life Homes, Russia 

For over two years now, The Church of the Cross has been supporting Hope for Life Homes, Russia. We started with the shoe drive, then provided funds to upgrade the upstairs of a church to make living quarters for a family that cared for 13 foster children, and now we are in the process of repairing a Christian Camp that will host hundreds of orphans and foster children each summer.

Just last month our parish responded very generously to a special clothing, vitamin and arts and crafts collection to assist 36 foster children, formerly orphans, who are part of the Hope for Life, Russia family.

The donations will be hand delivered to these children during an upcoming Mission trip to Spassk, Russia at the end of June.

We are trusting in the Lord, that this will build a long and fruitful relationship with these families in support of their dedicated effort to spread the Gospel.

Please contact Barbara Scott for any questions, phone 843-757-7018 or Barbara@hargray.com.



Hope For Life Collection for Orphans in Russia

Hope for Life Orphans

Hope for Life Russia Map


Samaritan’s Purse Rebuild Trip to Andrews, SC

From January 31st until February 5th, 2016 a team of 10 members, from The Church of the Cross, traveled to Andrews, SC to help the victims of the severe flooding that took place at the beginning of October 2015.

The team members were Bob and Chris Olsen, Bruce and Phyllis Ehlers, Al and Diane North, Lyn Huber, Sonja Wesseler, Richard Darr and Jay Shook.

The typical day began with breakfast, singing, and devotions. The team then proceeded to the home site where the construction supervisor led the team in prayer before the work started for the day. The team painted, cut and placed molding, caulked and spackled and painted again. The homeowners worked with the team and shared prayer time with them during the day.

Following dinner, the team participated with the larger group of workers and homeowners, sharing their stories of faith and hearing how the Lord was working in the lives of those who had lost much in this world but were buoyed up by their faith in His world.

The trip reminds us that we are all God’s children and brothers and sisters in Christ. He loves each one of us and requires us to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Samaritan’s Purse has made a commitment to work in Andrews through December 2016, so there may be an opportunity for future trips from The Church of the Cross. If you are interested in participating, please contact Chris and Bob Olsen at 843-705-9335 or 585-738-5185.

20160201_122616 REV

Samaritan’s Purse – Responding to Refugee Crisis in Europe


The flood of refugees from the Middle East into Europe is like nothing the world has seen since World War II. Hundreds of thousands are risking their lives to escape terrible violence in Syria and elsewhere. Families with small children are racing to find a place to live before the bitter winter cold sets in.

Samaritan’s Purse is working through a network of evangelical churches to minister in the Name of Jesus Christ to refugees at stops along their difficult journey through Europe. They are providing food, hygiene items, and other basic necessities they so badly need.

The Church of the Cross will provide $10,000 to Samaritan’s Purse to assist with their Gospel spreading work with these refugees

Please pray for these desperate families as they travel for miles to find safety and permanent shelter.


Diocese of Marsabit, Kenya

The Church of the Cross has been involved in spreading the Gospel in The Diocese of Marsabit, in Kenya for over two years now. It started in 2014 when we provided matching funds, in the amount of $10,000, with Christ Church, Mt Pleasant so that Bishop Martin would replace a “Tree Church” that was washing away (see pictures).

In November, 2014, TCOTC provided an additional $15,000 to the diocese to complete the church in Gololo, complete a rectory at St. John’s in Sololo, complete a rectory in Anono, and then to purchase a dirt bike to help reduce travel times between some 6 churches covered by one priest.

In March of 2015, Bishop Martin visited TCOTC and we provided an additional $5,000, again matching funds with Christ Church, Mt Pleasant, for building another church in his diocese In September, 2015, we learned that additional resources would be necessary to complete the church and we joyfully sent an additional $6,000 for that purpose. That church has been finished …..The Church of the Cross, Attan was consecrated on December 6, 2015 (see pictures).

The Church of the Cross has been truly blessed by our association with the Diocese of Marsabit. We have broken bread with Bishop Martin and his wife and with Father Qampicha Wario and his wife, while they updated us on how the Lord is working mightily in the diocese. We continue to hold them in our prayers as Bishop Martin approaches retirement and the diocese elects a new bishop in February 2016.



Diocese of Marsabit in Kenya– Image 1 of 4


Mission and Outreach News

A post from Allie Frazier…Insight into a missionary’s call to serve

“…However, I often feel inadequate and undeserving to be a missionary. Couldn't someone else do the job better than me? Isn't there a more skilled Art teacher out there? The answer to both of these questions is probably "Yes". However, that's not the point. After all, if the only missionaries in the world were the "qualified ones", there would few to none out there sharing the gospel cross-culturally. It's by God's grace and intervention in our lives that we are able to share the greatest Gift with the world. By His grace I was able to say "Yes" to the call, pack up my life, and ship off to another country”... Click HERE to read the entire post.


The Living Church

The following article, written about The Church of the Cross' partnership with dioceses in the Church of Ireland and in New Brunswick, Canada, was copied with permission from The Living Church website: http://www.livingchurch.org/we-cannot-be-isolationists .

We Can't Be Isolationists

Friday, June 5, 2015
By John Zambenini

FO yellow sweaterWhat does a rector from South Carolina’s Lowcountry have to say to a parish priest in Ireland? Quite a lot when the proclamation of the gospel is at stake, as the Rev. Charles E. “Chuck” Owens III of Church of the Cross in Bluffton, South Carolina, would have it. Owens has found an unlikely transatlantic partnership with dioceses in the Church of Ireland. Traveling to Ireland a few times a year to shore up a church he believes is in need, Owens is among a number of evangelical Anglicans reaching across geographic divides in uncertain times.

“We can’t be isolationists,” Owens told TLC. “We need our brothers and sisters no matter where they are.” Owens says his message for the Church of Ireland is “Jesus Loves you and so do we. You are not alone.” Church of the Cross’s partnership with Anglicans in Ireland, for Owens, carves out a place of solidarity from which to proclaim the gospel.

Tremors in the Anglican Communion have shaken canonical ties. Meanwhile, Owens says facility of communication and travel in the 21st century has made geographic boundaries irrelevant. The question for the church is, “Who are we spiritually aligned with?” he says. “Who you’re really in communion with is going to be based on what you believe, who holds to the truth with the fervor that you do, and defines the truth in the same way.”

Reaching across the Atlantic to like-minded believers, Owens sees Ireland as a source of mutual encouragement as well as a mission field. Church of the Cross has hired a youth minister from the Diocese of Kilmore, Elphin, and Ardagh, with which Owens has particularly close ties.

The Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence of South Carolina said Church of the Cross’s connection with Kilmore, Elphin, and Ardagh is important for South Carolina. Lawrence told TLC his diocese’s isolation within the Episcopal Church before departing highlighted the need for partnerships. South Carolina’s vision for “making biblical Anglicans in a global age” has meant investing in bonds with Tanzania, Egypt, and elsewhere, Lawrence said.

Owens’s Ireland connection began when Ken Clarke, former Bishop of Kilmore, Elphin, and Ardagh, traveled to Bluffton with Lawrence, who had met Clarke at Lambeth in 2008. Clarke told TLC that networks are now key to relationships. Ministry is no different. Not long after meeting Clarke, Owens was heading to Ireland.

And if finding overseas friendships amid a shifting cultural landscape transcends ecclesial designations, it has also accompanied change. Owens, a former school headmaster who has served as Church of the Cross’ rector since 1996, is driving to adapt the church’s proclamation for a generation unfamiliar with traditional idioms of faith.

Highlighting the scope of cultural changes, the Republic of Ireland has grabbed headlines for passing a May referendum permitting same-sex marriages. The Church of Ireland has not modified its teaching on marriage, but the referendum is regarded as a cultural bellwether for Christian leaders seeking to engage the world.

Part of the adaptation Owens says the church needs is repackaging its message without ceding ground on the authority of Scripture. In the face of mounting distrust in the institutional church, discouraged clergy, and flagging attendance, Owens says the church must realize the vitality of the gospel.

A crisis of leadership is central to the church’s struggle, Owens says: “The institutional church has served as a wet blanket over [parishioners’] faith.” He says he wants Christians to live a life of faith outside the walls of a church building. His teaching at conferences in Belfast, in the Republic, and with the evangelical New Wine movement has focused heavily on equipping leaders.

Church of the Cross, which has grown to nearly 1,800 members, is a model for Owens’s message. He attributes its growth in part to adapting worship to contemporary tastes and heavy emphasis on lay leadership, with about 80 lay ministries. Accommodating a changing world is a fine line to toe. For Church of the Cross, change has been welcome, but Owens says it has cleaved to biblical teaching.

Irish Anglicans are accustomed to fine lines. The Church of Ireland, encompassing both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom, transcends a political border and exists alongside the Roman Catholic Church on the predominantly Catholic island. Still, part of Owens’s message is not shrinking from cultural boundaries.

The Rev. Ali Calvin says the vision Owens and others have cast has brought new life to the three churches she serves in Killeshandra, where Owens has visited and taught. “When you find people who share your heart and vision and have the same love for God and accept the same principles from Scripture,” Calvin said of the partnership, “you have an automatic connection.”

That connection is challenging old divisions. Her churches have taken small steps to overcome barriers with Catholics in Killeshandra. “We share the desire to see the Holy Spirit move amongst his people, to see walls broken down,” she said.

Calvin, a former secondary school teacher, has been a priest for six years in the Diocese of Kilmore, Elphin, and Ardagh. Chapel of the Cross’s lay leadership model has encouraged her congregations, she says. She travelled with a team from Killeshandra to Bluffton. “It was wonderful for us, from rural churches in Ireland, to hear Chuck’s story and to hear his experience going from a small church that was dying and then growing,” she said.

Whatever comes of his far-flung friendships, Owens’s emphasis on adapting the church to meet culture has found traction. Rev. Greg McMullin of St. Mary and St. Bartholomew’s Anglican Church in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, also worked with Owens. McMullin says there is renewed vigor in his church. “[We] can speak in a language relevant to the culture without becoming molded by the culture,” McMullin said, though change brings challenges. “I think there’s a real danger that in attempts to be relevant we embrace the direction of the current culture, and I think that’s a huge mistake.”

What is needed for accommodation of cultural change to ultimately succeed remains to be seen. In the meantime Calvin’s parishioners have come to see themselves as having a role to play in the church. “Initially it was just a mindset change,” Calvin says. Now, “many of them have moved into a deeper relationship with God.”


 Click here for MOMM's articles from past years.