Only three years ago, Peace, Aiken, S.C., was just an idea in the minds of the members of the South Atlantic District Mission Board. As Jonathan Bourman, pastor at Peace, likes to say, “The Spirit’s been working hard since then, carving out his church in Aiken.”
Bourman, his wife Melanie, and their young daughter, Elliana, arrived in Aiken in December 2013. The congregation held its official launch service in December 2014. Since his arrival and the congregation’s launch, Bourman says, “There’s been a lot of preaching, a lot of teaching, and lots of down home evangelizing. Before our eyes, we watched Peace grow from a church of just eight members to a church of 50. As a pastor, it’s been a joy to get front row seats to the Spirit’s work in all of it.”
Peace’s vision is to use its grace- and Christ-filled doctrines to establish itself as the premiere destination for gospel proclamation in the greater Aiken area.
“We have a mission burning at Peace to reach greater Aiken with the real peace that Jesus Christ gives us in his gospel,” says Bourman. “In the heart of the Bible Belt, we have a unique opportunity to be the only thriving confessional Lutheran church within 40 miles.”
On the Sunday that Peace held its opening service, one woman noted, “Peace is a movement.” Bourman says that feeling is still with the congregation. In fact, a new member recently commented, “I am excited to see Peace be a reformation in this city.”
Bourman believes that people are coming to Peace “for our doctrine, for our sacraments, and for the living teaching of the true Word of God.” Visitors and members come from many demographic and denominational backgrounds. A well-respected local CEO, who had never previously found a church home, began studying God’s Word with Bourman. As he was teaching her about Holy Communion, her eyes filled with tears as she said, “I never knew. I never knew. Thank you for starting Peace.”
The congregation currently rents office and worship space, but as Peace moves forward with its message and its movement, it hopes to soon find a permanent church home in downtown Aiken.
Bourman notes, “We want to be central, and we want to be magnetic. That’s what the gospel is to us, and we want to embody that for our city and our region in our ministry center.”
No matter where Peace is worshiping, though, the message will be the same. “Peace is all about the gospel,” says Bourman. “We talk about it all the time. We cling to it like barnacles to a tossing ship. It’s why we named our church ‘Peace.’ And wonderfully and mercifully, the people who are becoming a part of us are all people who love the gospel and want to hear it so badly from their pastor and their fellow members.”
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Volume 103, Number 04
Issue: April 2016
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