NCD meets to dream about new-faith possibilities

August 25, 2021
By Alan Wild
ELIZABETHTOWN, Kentucky – For the first time since pandemic quarantines started in March 2020, the Kentucky Annual Conference’s New Church Development teams were able to gather in person Tuesday, Aug. 24, to talk about New Faith Communities and the current challenges – and opportunities – to reach new people.

The gathering of about 45 people at Memorial UMC in Elizabethtown included members of the NCD Operational Team and district NCD teams, as well as their district superintendents. Six of nine district superintendents, plus one assistant to the DS, were able to attend to brainstorm with their teams and the larger group. Bishop Leonard Fairley came at the end of the day and served communion to help put an exclamation point on the day.

The meeting was held in Memorial’s roomy Wesley Café, and everyone present was required to wear a mask. Some pastors were excited that this was their first in-person meeting with other pastors since before COVID, and a few said the atmosphere even felt like a “mini-Annual Conference.”

Besides discussing new ways to reach people and the most effective approach to church-planting in the age of COVID, it was an opportunity for the Directional Team to go over updated policies and procedures, which was particularly helpful for new district NCD chairs.

One of the key themes of the day was that even with our challenges these days, new communities of faith can and are happening – perhaps not the traditional “parachute drop” that many first thing of when it comes to church planting, but through focused worship services, multisite campuses, Dinner Churches and Fresh Expressions.

The meeting was moderated by NCD co-Chairs Rev. Adam Sparks, Senior Pastor at St. Matthews UMC in Louisville, and Rev. Dr. Eric Bryant, Senior Pastor at Christ Church in Louisville. Bryant served as NCD Director for three years before moving into his current role in 2020.

The morning and early afternoon included short sessions on NCD policies, Fresh Expressions/Dinner Churches, and the MissionInsite demographic program provided free to every church in the Conference. A longer afternoon session allowed teams to meet with their DS’s and in some cases pastors who were identified as serving churches in promising locations for New Faith Communities.

In a brief devotional before Communion, Fairley asked those present what they saw besides the numbers: “men and women, boys and girls who need grace.” Set aside all our usual categories – race, sex, politics, Fairley said. Do we see people ready for “a transformative relationship with Jesus?” he asked.

After the meeting, Bryant and Sparks both said they were very pleased with the day, and participants also seemed to feel like it was a day well spent.

 Elizabethtown was chosen as a relatively central location – but some still had quite a drive, such as Rev. Chris Bartley, the Associate Pastor at Pikeville First. He drove three hours and 45 minutes one way from far Eastern Kentucky but was able to joke about it: “Next meeting,’ he said chuckling, “we should plan to meet in Prestonsburg.”
  • For information about how to register a church for a MissionInsite account, email Ministry Assistant Alan Wild at For more information about NCD, go to our web page at: