2022 Annual Conference: Agenda, Special Offering, Resolutions, Disaffiliation Info.

Effingham County’s Encounter Church constituted


By Kara Witherow, Editor

On Sunday morning, April 3, 2022, 87 people gathered to worship and celebrate Encounter Church’s founding and constitution into The United Methodist Church.

The mood in the room was expectant and excited as those gathered anticipated an announcement that had for several weeks been teased during worship services and via social media.

Preaching on 1 Kings 8 which tells of Solomon dedicating the temple, pastor Damon Hubert told the congregation its purpose is to point people to Christ.

“That’s what we were designed for. Now that temple is you. That temple is us,” he said. “Everything we do points to God. That’s the point of us as the new temple. Our purpose is to reach the world. That is the most important thing.”

And just as Solomon’s temple was a big deal, Hubert’s big announcement to those gathered was that the church was being formally founded and constituted as a new United Methodist congregation.

While technically a new church, Encounter Church’s story started well before 2022.

More than 11 years ago, on Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011, Gateway Community Church launched a new church in Rincon, in Effingham County. An offshoot of Gateway Community UMC’s main Pooler campus, the church, originally named Gateway Community North, had 35 charter members and was constituted February 3, 2013, with Rev. Andy Lamon serving as pastor.

In 2018, Gateway Effingham – as it had come to be known – merged with The Chapel Ministries and became The Chapel Effingham. During the past three years, The Chapel Midtown in Brunswick and The Chapel Effingham have pooled their resources to more effectively serve and reach their local communities for Christ.

But as the peak of the coronavirus pandemic began to wind down and the Effingham congregation was able to gather in person again, it became important to strike out on their own, said pastor Damon Hubert.

“The Chapel was phenomenal, but when you’re part of something local you have more ownership, you have more of a feel of the direct results of your ministry,” Hubert said. “We are grateful for The Chapel and everything they’ve done, but we wanted to give the opportunity for our local people to have ownership of the ministry we do here.”

Hubert gave thanks to Coastal District Superintendent Rev. David Thompson for his leadership and guidance throughout the process.

“The word church in Greek is ‘ekklesia.’ It means the people called out. People called out of darkness into light, people called out of death into life, out of slavery into service, out of bondage into freedom; we are called out to be His,” said Rev Thompson, who oversaw the official constitution of Encounter Church.

 “What an exciting time,” Rev. Thompson said about the day. “Constituting a new church is a complete and total blessing.”

Photo courtesy of Ashlee Maddy

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