Downtown Fresno target of new church plant

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Church planters moving to Fresno in January

Mission USA news release

A new USMB church plant, Neighborhood Church, is being established in an area of downtown Fresno, Calif., known as the Jackson Neighborhood. Church planters Joe and Heidi White and their three children are moving to this predominantly Hispanic community in January 2015. The Pacific District Conference (PDC) and Mission USA, the church planting arm of USMB, are supporting Neighborhood Church.

While serving for the past eight years as associate pastoral couple of Granville Chapel in Vancouver, BC, Joe and Heidi felt an increasing burden and call to ministry specifically in the Jackson Neighborhood. The couple foresees expansion to other Fresno neighborhoods in the future.

In a proposal to the PDC and Mission USA, Joe writes, “Why the name ‘Neighborhood Church?’ We think the church needs to get entangled with the neighborhood. We think the church needs to love it and invite imagination for how to announce Jesus' incredible message. We think church is about family and local community—our church isn't above our neighborhood, we are a church of our neighborhood.”

Don Morris, director of Mission USA, says, “Joe and Heidi have a very strong call to this challenging neighborhood. They are willing and excited about the opportunities that lie before them. Moving from Vancouver to Fresno will be a huge adjustment for their whole family. But I am confident in the gifts God has blessed them with to do a great work in Fresno—they are both very gifted people.”

Residents of the Jackson neighborhood experience many life challenges, including living in one of the lowest per capita income areas of Fresno. White writes, “There are 920 homes in the Jackson Neighborhood, and we want our neighbors to walk and bike to a vibrant and fun Jesus-focused worship service and midweek small groups. We dream of a church that addresses the 18 percent unemployment rate in this area of Fresno. What’s motivating us?  We want to see Jesus transform the lives of residents in our neighborhood and participate in Jesus’ renewal of Fresno, the city we love.”

White was raised in the Lowell Neighborhood of Fresno, which shaped his life and ministry: “I am relationally shaped as a ‘Fresnan.’ Like my home city, I am unpretentious and unable to hide my problems but am inherently optimistic about and committed to redemption. I am also shaped by the Lowell Neighborhood, the neighborhood in which I grew up (one of Fresno’s highest crime and lowest income neighborhoods). This has given me a heart for the poor, a cultural awareness, a realistic perspective of how Jesus’ kingdom comes and an honest perspective of my own brokenness and wounding as a man saved by grace.”

White is an avid mountaineer, rock climber, ironman triathlete, marathon runner, violinist, guitarist and coffee enthusiast. His first book, Lead Better, aims to help youth pastors lead effective inductive Bible studies with teens and will be published in early 2015 by Harmon Press. He is a graduate of Fresno Pacific University and received a master of divinity degree from Regent College, Vancouver, BC.

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