By Rev. Andy Stager
I’m privileged to lead a long-term mission team known as Hill City Church, a new mission congregation of Catawba Presbytery in the heart of Rock Hill, SC. We believe God has called us to bring the truth, goodness, and beauty of Jesus to bear for the flourishing of our city. We are focused on three con- texts: Sabbath, neighborhood, and vocation.
Sabbath: our feast day, our day of rest and gladness, and the context in which our people are ‘gathered’. We’ve begun to experience the joy of Sundays bookended by worship, punctuated by common meals, and characterized by warm fellowship.
We’ve been blessed to have a music ensemble of piano, acoustic guitar, banjo, and violin to accompany rich hymnody, often with new melodies. Our preaching team worked through Colossians in the spring, and began Mark’s Gospel after Easter. We’ve enjoyed weekly communion, with the whole body literally gathered around the common table.
Just last Sunday, my son Wycliffe was the first to be baptized among us – the baptismal waters having been applied to him with hyssop from the community garden. As the ‘gathered’ church, we revel in His grace and are equipped to be sent into our neighbor- hood and vocational contexts.
Neighborhood is the first context into which we’re ‘sent’, though we’re still ‘gathered’ in small ‘community groups’. We believe God has called us to saturate our city – one neighborhood at a time, with the truth, goodness, and beauty of Jesus by means of these groups.
While many of our non-Christian friends and neighbors are unlikely at first to worship with us, they are often very excited about the renewal of their neighborhoods. Our Community Groups seek to be catalytic for such renewal through deeds and words of love and mercy; done and said in Jesus’ name.
In the process of such neighborhood- blessing, our people become better disciples of Jesus. One by one, both we and our neigh- bors learn the difference the gospel makes in our vocations, and are drawn by this same gospel into our Sabbath feasting.
Vocation involves each of our callings as followers of Jesus. As a church, we are con- stantly being ‘sent’ to bring the truth, goodness, and beauty of Jesus into every sphere of our calling: as individuals in pursuit of a King and His Kingdom; as wives or husbands; as mothers, fathers or children; as students or professors; as artists or artisans; as homemakers or homebuilders; as medics or machinists.
That we might be found faithful in this most ‘sent’ of contexts, we ‘gather’ in discipleship clusters of 2-3, making ourselves ac- countable for growth in spiritual disciplines, as well as physical, financial, verbal, and missional holiness. We hope that our work is so ‘gospelicious’ that many are drawn to gather with us in the neighborhood and Sabbath contexts.
If the Lord should see fit, we hope to plant the first of many daughter churches, led by our church planting apprentice, Daniel Wells. Please pray for Hill City Church!