and walk humbly with God.
My friend Alex Shipman often says, “Our churches are not diverse because our relationships are not diverse.” This truth deeply convicts me. Even though reconciliation is at the heart of the Gospel message, the church continues to experience cultural and racial disunity. But God is calling us to do something about it. We are cultivating a multi-ethnic church in my hometown, Orangeburg, SC, which is approximately 75% Black, 20% White, 3% Hispanic, and 2% Asian. We are intentionally pursuing friendships and discipling relationships across ethnic and cultural lines. As we do this, we listen and learn from people in the community during this process. The Lord is bringing people to faith, so we are gathering a core group of disciples who will form the nucleus of a new church that reflects the diversity of Orangeburg.
The Bible tells us that people were created in the image of God with inherent dignity and unique abilities, so we want to come alongside “the poor in spirit” to help everyone recognize and utilize their God-given gifts for service. Our church will equip believers for “every good work” through the ordinary means of grace (Col 1:10). We will devote ourselves to pray, to teach and preach God’s Word, to celebrate baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and to sincerely love and serve one another. As God’s people grow in grace and serve their neighbors, the community will be revitalized.
The future of Orangeburg is in the hands of its future leaders. Our church will intentionally equip parents and other adults to mentor and disciple young people to become a new generation of godly local leadership. This will be a highly relational process of informing minds, transforming hearts, and inspiring actions that are pleasing to God and will make a tangible difference to the local community. Orangeburg is home to South Carolina State University and Claflin University, both historically black colleges. We are actively reaching out to students through bible studies and mentoring. We also have several students involved in our core group.
What We Value
The Gospel is the power of God for salvation for all who believe. We proclaim and live in light of God’s grace for sinners in Jesus Christ.
“Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.” (Colossians 1:28)
We were created to worship God for all He is and all He has done. We respond in joyful worship with the full range of human emotions.
“Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!” (Psalm 47:1)
“I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”” (Psalm 42:9)
We pursue friendships and discipling relationships across ethnic and economic lines to build a culturally diverse church.
“And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts.” (Haggai 2:7)
We open our homes to each other because gathering around a table is one of the best ways to love our neighbors.
“So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.” (1 Thessalonians 2:8)
We seek to alleviate material poverty in our community through education, mentoring, generosity, and friendship.
“But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” (Jeremiah 29:7)
Church Planter: JP Sibley
In January, 2015, the churches of Palmetto Presbytery called me to be a church planter in Orangeburg, SC where I grew up as a covenant child. My parents lived out the faith through many trials, notably my mother’s struggle with Cushing’s Disease. As a kid, I tagged along with my parents as they served the church, and it was upon one such occasion that I admitted my sin against God and began to personally trust in Jesus. God has been forming and transforming me to grow into the image of his bel
oved Son, Jesus Christ.
As a member of Trinity Church (PCA) in Orangeburg, I was involved in the youth ministry and led outreach and discipleship groups at school. Through these experiences, God was refining gifts and drawing my heart toward a call to serve the Church as a minister of the Gospel. God continually revealed my sins and extended his healing grace to me despite my failure and unbelief.
I met Laurie Ingram at Furman University where we dated four years and were married by her father (a PCA pastor) soon after graduation. In 2002, as I began commuting to seminary at RTS Charlotte, we became core-group members of what became Redeemer Church in Greenville, SC. From 2002-2014, I served Redeemer as youth pastor, music director, and after I was ordained in 2009, as assistant pastor of discipleship and community life. Laurie and I have three children (Isaiah, Robbie, and Brynn).
By placing me in a minority community growing up, God instilled a deep passion in me to seek to understand and come alongside the disenfranchised and hurting. As God persisted in his love and faithfulness toward me, an outcast sinner, I grew in my desire to love my neighbors out of the grace I received from God through Jesus Christ. God is glorified when we love the people that he loves. He is glorified when we include and make room for outsiders. It reflects his heart of compassion. I want to be part of God’s mission to break down walls of cultural and ethnic separation through simple Gospel ministry, especially in the South. I believe that the Gospel of Jesus is the only message that will bring racial reconciliation.
There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all (Ephesians 4:4-6).
Is New City part of a denomination?
We are a mission church of the Presbyterian Church in America.
What are our next steps?
We are currently meeting weekly on Sunday nights with our core group for a meal, prayer, and bible study. We are outgrowing our living room, so we are training leaders to plant another House Church. We are also looking for a church building or other space to move our Sunday Night Worship service into.
We are recruiting people to join our Plant Team.
Why do we need another church in Orangeburg?
I mean, aren’t there enough churches already? This is a great question. First of all, we recognize that God is already at work in Orangeburg. Our first priority has been networking with other pastors and churches to be about Kingdom work. We also believe that the planting of new churches, fresh expressions of faith and obedience and fellowship is the best way to reach a community with the Gospel. And one of the things that really sets New City apart is our commitment to cross-cultural ministry, relationships, and racial reconciliation. It’s easier to plant a church where everyone is the same and comfortable. But we believe God’s church in America must do the hard work of change. Church planting is a great tool. We get to create a new multicultural church culture.
Will we always meet in a house?
We will continue to meet in a house until we find a temporary building for Sunday Worship.
What will the music be like?
We will cultivate diverse musical styles (gospel, spirituals, hymns, praise songs), and we will make space for a variety of cultural expressions.
What will there be for children?
Children are a vital part of the church and should be included as much as possible. We will equip and empower parents to teach their own children. We will have Sunday School classes for all ages and provide a nursery during Sunday Worship.
Will there be small groups?
God created us to live in a loving relationship with himself and other people. During the week, we will meet in House Churches throughout the city to share a meal, learn the Scripture, pray for one another, and reach out to the neighborhood.
What are the challenges of a multicultural church?
Most majority culture people (Anglo-Americans in the USA) do not even know that they have a culture. A typical white pastor might say, “Black folks are always welcome at our church. Our preaching and traditional music transcend culture.” The welcoming heart behind this statement is admirable, but it does not take culture (shared customs, language, attitudes, values, and practices) into account. We expect a missionary to China to adapt to the culture, so we must do the same in the multi-ethnic communities of North America. In Orangeburg, it will be important for our church to reflect the culture and to address the core concerns of African Americans. We have much to learn from the other predominantly black churches in Orangeburg and in the PCA.