Richmond Hill's Waterfront Church constituted

4/7/2014

On Sunday, Nov. 13, 2011, about 140 people joined Rev. Adam Ricker and his family as they launched The Waterfront Church.

A little more than two years later, on Sunday, March 2, 2014, 235 worshippers, including 49 charter members, celebrated the Richmond Hill church plant’s official constitution into The United Methodist Church.

Moving from St. Simons Island, where he previously served as Associate Director of Life Span Ministries for Connectional Ministries, to Richmond Hill to plant the church from scratch – called a parachute drop plant – was scary, says Rev. Ricker. He and his family didn’t know anyone in town and the church didn’t have a place to meet.

“What we’ve learned over the past two-and-half years is that God had been preparing this place for The Waterfront Church long before we arrived,” he said. “In fact, we’ve met individuals who have been praying for this new church for more than 15 years. Despite our initial fears, God has been incredibly faithful and our family has been blessed by the lives that we’ve seen impacted through this ministry.”      

Bishop James King, Savannah District Superintendent Rev. Mike Huling and Dr. Tim Bagwell, executive director of South Georgia’s New and Revitalized Congregational Development (NRCD), were present to preside over official business. Bishop King preached a message titled “FLOW,” and said that Christians should be instruments of God who allow the Spirit to flow and impact communities through them.

The service also included members sharing, via video, why they love The Waterfront Church. At the close of the service, the church’s children joined with the congregation to celebrate with a balloon drop. The United Methodist connection celebrated too, with representatives on hand from churches including Isle of Hope UMC, Gateway Community Church Effingham, Richmond Hill UMC, Baxley First UMC and Gilchrist Park UMC.

The Waterfront Church is just one of the 684 new United Methodist Churches that were established in the United States during 2008-2012. The number surpassed the denomination’s new church development goal for the quadrennium by 34.

Starting new churches is not a new initiative, said Dr. Bagwell.

“John Wesley was interested in movement far more than he was interested in organization,” Dr. Bagwell said. “New congregations remind all of us of Wesleyan passion. The Waterfront is a movement! Lives are changed. Jesus is introduced. Relationships are started. New and Revitalized Congregational Development seeks to help all congregations discover and rediscover the power of the Spirit’s movement.”

Lives are truly being changed through The Waterfront Church. A few weeks ago the congregation celebrated as two youth and three adults were baptized.

“One of the adults baptized was 60 years old and was joining a church for first time in her life,” Rev. Ricker said. “In her testimony she shared that if God could save her then He could save anyone. Her story is only one of many who admit that for the first time in their adult lives they are aware of the grace of God at work in them and want desperately to grow in that grace.”

Planting, growing and nurturing The Waterfront Church has been an honor, a challenge and an opportunity for growth, said Rev. Ricker.

“Planting a church was not what we began ministry intending to accomplish, but this opportunity is and will always be something that we cherish,” he said. “Every day our faith grows through the opportunities and obstacles we experience in this unique ministry setting.”

The support, prayers, resources and encouragement he and the congregation have received during the past two-and-a-half years has been vital to their success.

“The Waterfront Church was birthed through the connection of The United Methodist Church,” Rev. Ricker said. “I am encouraged weekly through emails and phone calls from pastors and churches in South Georgia who believe this ministry is an investment in the future of The United Methodist Church.”