Making a difference; sponsor a church plant

IRONWOOD, MI – Some churches, especially smaller churches might believe that they are ill equipped to help launch a new church start. But church planter, Ian Minielly, received a firsthand look of what an impact another church can have on the success of a new church.

Ian and Stephanie Minielly lived in Asheville, NC when their journey of church planting began. They felt God was calling them to start Catalyst Baptist Church in Ironwood in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. As they began to work with the Baptist State Convention Of Michigan (BSCM) and Church Planter Catalyst (CPC), Darren Greer, he promised them a sponsoring church that would motivate and support their efforts despite being more than 600 miles apart. Minielly said, “I was leery at first, and my experience with people over the years had left me chagrined regarding offers of assistance. The offer usually fell well short of reality and this is what I expected.”

Tecumseh Missionary Baptist Church (TMBC) is actually the halfway point between Asheville and Ironwood. But the relationship between TMBC and the Minielly’s began before they ever left North Carolina.

TMBC Mission committee member Jim Ellsworth helped the Minielly’s with one of their largest concerns, healthcare. Minielly says ,”My wife and I had been covered through my employer and now we were venturing into Obamacare and neither of us knew what to expect. Jim put me in touch with an insurance agent in Michigan he knew that worked with other pastors, and who is the son of missionaries. Jim’s recommendation was excellent, and we still use the same agent because he has gone the extra mile time and again.”

As the Minielly’s began the long drive to their new home in Ironwood, TMBC invited them to stay with them along the way. The church had tables across the sanctuary; loaded with Made in Michigan products they were giving to the church planting couple. Ian says, “Those products lasted us many months. It was so wonderful. In fact, there was so much we could not transport it all and they brought the rest up a couple months later.” He adds, “At no point in my Christian faith had I encountered a church and people so authentic and willing to uphold the Great Commission, but this was only the beginning.”

Through the support of TMBC, the Minielly’s say they are two years ahead of where they would have been without them. TMBC rallied around Catalyst and the church planters. Ian says, “What I could not have never foreseen was this was only the beginning. Shortly after we arrived in Ironwood, the same TMBC members travelled up here and delivered a full trailer of church supplies, furniture, and blessings right to our doorstep, and stayed for our first service.”

In reflecting on all of the support they have received, Ian adds, “If other established churches would follow their lead, I have no doubt church plants would achieve viability sooner, and win more souls to Jesus. I cannot say enough about the difference it has made in this ministry, and I cannot wait to do the same thing for a fresh Michigan church plant.”



Ian Minielly is a church planter and pastor of Catalyst Baptist Church, Upper Peninsula Association of Southern Baptists in Ironwood, MI.



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