Although services for his new church, Indian Land Presbyterian Church (ARP) don't start until September, Pastor Gary Stiltner has plenty to keep himself busy.
Stiltner and his wife, Elizabeth, and his four children moved to Fort Mill nearly a year ago from Greensboro, N.C., where Stiltner was the pastor at Friendly Hills Church. Since making the move, Stiltner has been getting to know the Indian Land area, the residents, and learning about how a new church could best serve the community.
One of the community's greatest needs, he said, is a church that serves young families like his own.
"We need gathering places and services for young families," Stiltner said. "There are some, but I think there needs to be a lot more."
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Starting up a new church, called "planting," begins with prayer, Stiltner said. Developing a core team to help him launch the church was his first goal. Stiltner met Indian Land residents and welcomed them to his home for Bible studies, he said. He's gathered a small group of residents to help him launch the church, but expects to have more people in that core group before the first official service on Sept. 13.
Planting a church has always been an interest of Stiltner's.
"I've always wanted to do missions in North America, and this is another way of looking at missions. I view church planting as missions in North America because you're targeting people who don't go to church and welcoming them."
This will be the first Associate Reformed Presbyterian (ARP) church in Indian Land. The ARP church is typically described as a conservative evangelical church, Stiltner said, but services at Indian Land Presbyterian Church will be "eclectic," with both traditional and contemporary elements.
"The ARP church is starting to realize that the new generation coming up doesn't connect to the organ or to the flowing robes, not that there is anything wrong with those," Stiltner said.
The new church will sponsor several activities around Indian Land this summer, both to get to know the community and give residents a chance to get to know the church. But the main objective to the summer time activities, Stiltner said, is just to do something for the community.
Activities planned include a community service day Saturday, May 30, at the Indian Land Recreation Center. The group plans to clean the center, repaint picnic tables and shelters and pickup trash. In June, Indian Land Presbyterian Church will sponsor a soccer camp at the recreation center and a family fun day is planned for July 3.
"We're hoping that people will want to get involved in the church, but the main reason for the activities is just to provide a service to the community. One of our visions is loving our neighbors and from the get-go we want to do that," Stiltner said.
"We don't want to be a self serving church; we want to be about impacting our community for Christ. This is the first of many things we want to do."
For more information on the church and church activities, contact Stiltner at (804) 493-0934 or visit the church's website at www.indianlandmission.org.