Deacon Thomas Barron

The Diocese of Georgia and the Southeastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America will start a new church in Grovetown. The Rev. Thomas Barron, a deacon, will begin work Oct. 1 as the church planter.

“I have a passion for connecting with people who are outside of any church, but still curious about the bigger questions of life,” Barron said. “I am excited to move to Grovetown and beginning to help people discover the life-giving good news of Jesus.”

“Thomas is experienced in this ministry,” said the Rt. Rev. Scott Benhase, Bishop of Georgia. “He started a successful community church in Virginia Beach a few years ago. He knows what it takes to do it well. He knows a congregation is built one soul at a time as each is brought together in a vibrant community focused on the gospel of Jesus.”

Grovetown is a small city near Augusta that has seen unprecedented growth in recent years as singles and young families have moved to the area near Fort Gordon. The Army Cyber Operations Center being built now is adding jobs to the already growing base population. Since 2010 the population has grown by 49 percent, and it is anticipated to grow another 30 percent in the next five years.

The new effort is supported by a $100,000 anonymous gift to the Campaign for Congregational Development. The Episcopal Church will match that $100,000 through its fund for church startups. The synod will apply for a matching ELCA grant.

Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, South Carolina, will use this church plant as a site for field education placements to give seminarians experience in starting a new congregation.

Barron will meet with community leaders, preach in Augusta-area Episcopal and ELCA churches, and develop a core team that will assist him in starting the new church. As the core team develops, he will identify an initial signature ministry for the church. The goal for the first 12 months is to develop the core team, begin holding launch-team worship, and work toward a launch of public worship by Christmas 2018.

Adapted from the Diocese of Georgia