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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Church Planting Journal: A Shepherd’s Heart

By Christina Powell
Dec. 18, 2011

While the nation commemorated the 10th anniversary of 9/11 this year, the solemnity of the day gave additional weight to one church’s passion to share the gospel. Ushers struggled to unfold extra chairs for the 303 people who attended the launch of the Peabody, Mass., satellite campus of Calvary Christian Church (Assemblies of God) located in nearby Lynnfield.

Church workers had not expected attendance to exceed 200. On the main campus, nearly 1,100 people attended three morning worship services. In the nearby New England towns of Lynn and Beverly, approximately 300 worshippers attended churches planted by Calvary Christian Church. More than 1,600 people in all were celebrating a vision for outreach established some 23 years earlier.

On another September morning in 1988, Timothy P. Schmidt ministered to about 50 people when he preached his first sermon as Calvary’s senior pastor. His wife, Jacquie, recalls that after her husband’s message everyone spent time around the altar, excited for what God had in store for the future.

Growing Through Caring

Schmidt says of those early days: “When I started pastoring, I remember asking God for someone to get saved every Sunday. Though it took years of faithfully sowing the good seed of God’s Word, along with a lot of hard work, the time finally came when we would see people coming to Christ almost every Sunday.”

“We didn’t try to change people, just love them,” Jacquie notes. “We loved them, and they loved us.”

In the late ’90s, the church’s commitment to soul winning created the need for a new facility.

“Realizing we were limited at our present location, we spent considerable time praying about whether the Lord wanted us to sell our present property and purchase property elsewhere that would provide for a more spacious ministry center,” Schmidt explains. “The clear witness of the Spirit to all in leadership was that God wanted us to stay put in Lynnfield and build a new facility, even though we knew we would continue to face the challenges of limited space.

“At this same time, the Holy Spirit crystallized the calling He was giving our church to plant and mother other churches. Our limitations would ‘force’ us to commit to church planting.”

Calvary Christian Church opened its first church plant, East Coast International Church, in Lynn during 2001, two years before building a new facility in Lynnfield. In 2008, the church gave birth to a second church, Garden City Church in Beverly. In the fall of 2011, parking limitations led to the launch of a fourth morning service at a satellite campus in Peabody.

Impacting Lives With Love

Throughout this expansion, the Schmidts shared the life experiences of their congregation. Barely a week after their arrival, they ministered to John and Judy Carmilia at the passing of Judy’s father.

“A year later Pastor Tim ministered to my husband’s dad,” Judy recalls, “gently confirming his salvation.”

Rich Cortese, senior pastor of Garden City Church, will never forget the day he and his wife were about to discuss their daughter’s cancer with their doctor.

“My daughter was about to be diagnosed with leukemia,” he says, “when Pastor Tim and Jacquie walked through the doors. My wife and I were able to talk with the doctors while the Schmidts were playing with our daughter.”   

“I will forever recall the birth of our first child, Tyler,” says Calvary Christian member Rob Giannino. “Not just for the great joy he brought us, but also for the great difficulty in learning that he was born with a cancer. Just as we found out this news, Pastor Tim arrived at the ICU to support us. Like a compassionate shepherd, he walked with us and prayed with us through a difficult time. Today Tyler is cancer-free.”

Mike McCarthy came to Calvary Christian Church 20 years ago, shortly after he gave his heart to Christ. When his 21-year-old son Kevin passed away suddenly on Oct. 13, 2010, following a car crash, McCarthy experienced the love of the church.

“Little things or generous things, Pastor Tim and Jacquie are always ready to touch lives,” McCarthy says.

Investing in People

The church has maintained a shepherd’s heart while rapidly growing by investing in people and training leaders.

Jamie Booth, associate pastor at Calvary Christian Church, explains: “Despite the growth of the church, all of our ministry leaders continue to have a close relationship with Pastor Tim. They are encouraged to talk with him about where God is taking the ministry in the future.”

Jody Panarello, Women’s Ministries leader at Calvary Christian Church, believes such an investment has given her “a deep understanding of how to lead the women with love and compassion.”

Guy Miller, senior associate pastor at Calvary Christian Church, had gone through a season of discouragement in his ministry but experienced a renewed motivation. “If I had walked away from the call of God,” he says, “I would not have known the joy of ministering to many people.”

Miller is preparing, with the help of Calvary Christian Church, to establish another church plant in Salem, Mass., scheduled to be dedicated in September 2012.

Kurt Lange, lead pastor of East Coast International Church (ECIC), reaches people through his urban ministry. Frank, a former member of Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, now serves on the worship team. In September 2010, ECIC launched Haverhill Dream Center, opening up new avenues of ministry in yet another community.

“We have a wonderful team,” Schmidt says. “Our church is blessed with excellent leadership on the board, an outstanding pastoral staff and support staff, ministry leaders who truly have a servant’s heart, and hundreds of extremely dedicated people serving in our various ministries.”

DR. CHRISTINA POWELL attends Calvary Christian Church (Assemblies of God; Timothy P. Schmidt, senior pastor) in Lynnfield, Mass.

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