Cooper Ministry Journey
For the past 11 years, I (Tim) have lived in Williamsburg, Kentucky, a town with approximately 5,000 people, which is the county seat of Whitley County. During this time, I was employed by the Whitley County Board of Education as a high school social studies teacher and coach for several sports teams. At the same time, I served at Cornerstone Community Church as one of the pastors, preaching, leading worship, and discipling.
Hope moved here 6 years ago, we met serving alongside one another in our church, and have since celebrated four years of marriage. Hope taught reading and English for 3 years for the county’s adult education program until our son, Seth, was born in March 2013.
Both of us moved to the area thinking we would only be here for a short period of time; however, we have begun to call Williamsburg our home as we have experienced the rich culture, beauty, and blessings of this place. At the same time, through our experiences, we have witnessed first-hand the need for personal intervention in the many cyclical problems that exist in our county. As a result, we are convinced that having seen the struggles and having been involved through school and church, God is calling us to become full-time ministers for his kingdom in this community through our church.
These are some of the struggles our community faces:
•Significant poverty and all the issues that come with it
•Increasing drug addictions
•Need for discipleship
We believe that a relationship with Jesus transforms all areas of life: spiritual, emotional, vocational, physical, and relational, and that the overflow of such transformation will empower these disciples to affect the generations to come for Christ. For this reason, we are pursuing the following vision:
To equip young people and families to know and follow Jesus.
We believe it is the young people of Whitley County who must be reached with the life-changing truth of the gospel if we are to see cycles broken. While this vision may sound simple, it is the essence of Jesus' teaching in John 14-17.
"Jesus answered, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'" (John 14:6)
Our ministry will be based on this truth.
Later on in chapter 14, Jesus makes clear what loving him really looks like: obeying his commands (John 14:15, 23). Then in some of my favorite verses throughout chapters 15 and 16, we learn that it is futile to attempt to obey Jesus' commands in our own strength. Abiding in Jesus and receiving the Helper, the promised Holy Spirit, is the only way to live out his commands.
Finally, in chapter 17, vs. 3, Jesus prays for his disciples, "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." What a thrilling thought that eternal life is found in knowing Christ--and that begins in the present! And this is exactly what our hearts beat for, that those who do not know Jesus in our community would come to experience the transformative power of true life in Christ.
I will continue in my role as one of the pastors of Cornerstone, preaching and leading worship regularly, discipling young men, and leading a small group while Hope continues to disciple young women, participate on the worship team, and make our home a haven of hospitality. Now, however, with more time to devote to these roles, we are excited about the possibilities of deepening our relationships with our co-workers in the gospel at Cornerstone and being facilitators of mission and discipleship to our community, which are things that we previously did not have as much time to engage in and develop. We will strive to be instruments in continuing to grow our body to be a church on a mission, making disciples who make disciples.
The following are three ways we plan to mobilize Cornerstone to build relationships, serve, and participate in developmental work in Williamsburg:
•After-School Programs: Because of our relationship to the school systems, we plan to pursue various types of after-School programs, from tutoring, to an outdoor club, a faith-related club, or even leadership training. This is one way we especially hope our college students will pour themselves into helping the youth.
•Missional Communities: These are small groups who are seeking to live the abundant life Jesus promised while intentionally sharing this with others. We would love to see this become a central part of discipleship within our church--groups that still receive encouragement from other believers as they passionately live out the good news of the gospel, by intentionally sharing the gospel with their neighbors and friends that have never experienced it before.
•A Common Ground Coffee Shop: Our third goal involves some big dreams that Hope and I believe God has placed on our hearts, to see lives truly nurtured in very holistic ways. Even though we live in a college town, the only gathering places are at fast-food restaurants, so, as with many small towns, we hear the same story over and over: “There’s nothing for the young people to do.” We have a dream of seeing a coffee shop and café opened, which could act as a community center. Not only that, we dream of the shop being used to employ and mentor youth who would learn job skills, financial training, and be discipled. Our church has opened a shop in the basement of our building on a part-time basis. We were blessed by having all the equipment needed donated.
We dream of eventually having a shop on Main Street that would be a self-sustained non-profit. “Like” A Common Ground Coffee Shop on Facebook to follow its progress and click here if interested in donating.
Since Cornerstone cannot fully support us at this point in time, we are seeking to form a team of ministry partners to make this work sustainable. If you feel led to partner in this work financially or in other ways, we would love for you to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for taking the time to read about the exciting journey God is leading our family on as we seek to be part of his kingdom growing into fullness in Williamsburg. We appreciate your prayers and support.
Top: Tim leading a men's small group
Bottom: Hope and Felicia Williamson, a student at UC, just after Felicia's baptism