Partnering together as one national family is important as we…plant churches
By Paul Robie
As I reflect back on the 11 years that I’ve lived in Utah as a church planter for the Mennonite Brethren, it is my pleasure to give credit and encouragement to those that made it possible.
South Mountain Community Church began as a dream fueled by a growing distaste for the way the Latter Day Saints Church has successfully dominated an entire culture with a God-dishonoring false gospel called Mormonism. I visited Utah several times during my 10 years as an associate pastor at Laurelglen Bible Church in Bakersfield, Calif.
Scott McKinney, a friend from seminary days, was having success reaching disenfranchised LDS in Utah County, the hotbed of Mormonism and home to Brigham Young University and The Mormon Missionary Training Center which processes 30,000 missionaries each year. Scott talked to me about the need for good churches in Utah and drew my attention to a town called Draper at the south end of the Salt Lake valley. At the time, this town had a population of 20,000 and not one Protestant church. The Mormon church was thoroughly entrenched in every aspect of this community—government, education, social networks and religion.
With a new passion to try to reach the folks in Draper with the liberating news of the gospel of grace, my wife and I became intent on moving to Draper to start a church. Laurelglen Bible Church was the first to hear of our plan, but soon the Pacific District Conference Board of Home Missions and Mission USA were in the mix and showing interest.
By January 1998 all three entities had come together to form a coalition of partners on this project. I was to receive funding for two years minimum with a third year possible. Along with that funding, a Task Force was formed with representatives from each entity. This Task Force gave encouragement, counsel and accountability. This was a “parachute” church plant—we had no connection to a mother church in Utah and no core group to help us from the beginning—and so these men were especially important in navigating these uncharted waters.
SMCC opened its doors to the public for worship the second week in October 1998. Now SMCC has planted a church in West Jordan, Utah, with Cory and Trina Anderson. We also have two other campuses—one in South Jordan (The Daybreak campus) and another in St. George (SMCC @ the Springs).
All of us attending a Mennonite Brethren church on a weekly basis in Utah are now about 2,000 people. Without the confidence, encouragement and funding from Mennonite Brethren in North America—some funding came from Canada—none of this would have happened.
Each new Utah church plant or campus has had Mennonite Brethren backing. The initial investment made into this Draper project has resulted in a great harvest for God. That original investment has not only yielded over 500 baptisms but the ongoing mission of the gospel in Utah. As a Mennonite Brethren partner, SMCC has invested over $500,000 in Utah projects.
Why is it important that the national family of Mennonite Brethren has come alongside SMCC and is involved in other communities for church planting? It is so that God’s fame can be continually spread throughout Utah and other places.
Paul Robie is the lead pastor and church planter for South Mountain Community Church in Draper, Utah. He and his wife, Jini, have two sons.