By Dwayne Stinson
What happens when two pastors with a passion for sharing the Gospel sit next to each other at the district Christmas party? God presents the vision for a new congregation! The fruits of that vision took shape, as the congregation at New Life at St. Andrew’s UMC, Alexandria District, broke ground for a new church building on Sept. 26. 2021.
In 2018, St. Andrew’s UMC was a small and shrinking congregation, sometimes with two members present in Sunday worship. New Life International was a 3-year-old church plant, a second site of Ghana Wesley UMC. Under the leadership of the Rev. John Obeng, Ghana Wesley had grown into a thriving multicultural congregation that met at Fairfax UMC. The Rev. Jim Johnson saw great potential for St. Andrew’s, given its location in Alexandria, but saw the existing congregation continue to decline in numbers. Johnson and Obeng said they felt called to establish a new campus of New Life on the St. Andrew’s property.
In December 2019, the Alexandria campus of New Life began worshipping. Since then, the congregation of two original St. Andrew’s members has grown to a congregation of 60. By selling off a portion of the Saint Andrew’s property, the congregation is able to construct a new building debt-free, one that will better suit the current congregation, its preschool, and several other congregations that use the space each week. The new 13,585 square-foot structure will house a worship center, fellowship hall, warming pantry, preschool, restrooms, and office space, with a basement that will include multipurpose space to accommodate classes, large gatherings, and office space for each partner church that worships in the building.
The September 26 worship service was filled with music and prayer. Two previous pastors from St. Andrew’s, the Rev. Dr. Kitan Petreski and Johnson, who initiated the conversation with Obeng, shared the history of the congregation. The Rev. Jeff Mickle, retired former district superintendent of the Alexandria District, offered the message. The Rev. Dr. Sarah Calvert, Arlington and Alexandria district superintendent, and the Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Nkrumah, pastor of Ghana Wesley UMC, led portions of the service, along with many members of the congregation. After worship, the congregation gathered for the symbolic groundbreaking, with Calvert and Obeng presiding.
New Life at St. Andrew’s represents the partnership of several congregations, reflecting diverse backgrounds and experiences, who united to be faithful stewards of the resources with which God has blessed them. When Christians come together with Kingdom goals, God breaks new ground.
Dwayne Stinson is the Associate Director of Influencing for the Virginia Conference
A growing congregation.