Sunday will be like graduation day for worshippers at The Well at Lewisburg, a United Methodist Church plant in the growing area of eastern DeSoto County.
The Well has been a church plant since January 2016, when a small group met inside Maples Memorial United Methodist Church in Olive Branch, the church called the “parent church” by The Well’s pastor Corey Truett.
One year later, The Well moved to the Lewisburg United Methodist Church building, when that congregation sacrificially closed in the face of dwindling attendance and gave the church plant its home.
Sunday, no diplomas will be handed out and no strains of Pomp and Circumstance will likely be played.
However, The Well will graduate from being a church plant to becoming a full-fledged church as part of its Charter Service at 10:30 a.m.
Denomination officials, such as Senatobia District Supt. Rev. Rickey Haynes and Tim Thompson of the Mississippi Conference office in Jackson, will be on hand for what Truett said will be a celebration of The Well’s move from a church plant to a church.
“It’s a big deal for us,” Truett said about the charter. “Most church plants are five years and get funded for five years and all that stuff. God has been leading us all along the way and has been blessing us all along the way.”
Maples Memorial housed The Well for a year and allowed them to use the utilities and part of their staff to help support what was being done. Sound equipment from Maples was also being used on loan by The Well.
“Slowly, but surely over the last 2-3 years we’ve been weaning ourselves off of those things,” Truett pointed out. “Almost all of the sound equipment is back and we’ve replaced it with other things as we’ve become financially stable. We’ve had churches donate equipment our direction.”
A “trial run” to see what it would be like to operate without support from Maples was also done, Truett said, who added his church has been on its own for the past year.
“We have all of the teams in place to meet United Methodist Church policy and we’ve been financially stable and haven’t needed funding from Maples,” Truett said. “It been like a typical parenting household. You raise a child, they become responsible and then you send them out on your own.”
Truett said the UMC looks at church plants and determines if they have the numbers and monetary backing to support itself before it offers a charter. Currently, there are 85-100 attendees at Sunday worship, which starting Jan. 13 will offer two services at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
“They want to see we have both, and/or either of those things happening at the same time,” Truett said. “The United Methodist Church offered us a small pile of money to start with that could not go toward buildings or land, but only toward people and ministry.”
You look at the sign and logo for The Well and it resembles a well, or a coffee cup, if you prefer.
It fits the present and future plans for the church, which wants to provide the “living water” of Jesus Christ and with a cup of coffee at the same time.
Truett said the church is working toward making The Well have a coffee shop meeting place operating inside during the week to give the Lewisburg community a place to gather, have a brew and spend some time together.
“We felt that God was calling us to do something very different,” Truett pointed out. “We felt that was a coffee shop café, known as a ‘third space ministry.’ That would be where you commune with people and we feel that Lewisburg is a community that is literally seeking a place for community.”
Remodeling of the sanctuary to allow for that third space ministry is in the works and Truett hopes the coffee shop cafe can be open six days a week “with worship on Sunday.”
The message Sunday will reflect the day being Epiphany Sunday, which Truett said is appropriate for what will be taking place in chartering The Well.
“We don’t do a lot of lectionary here but there are some holidays we do observe, like Easter and Lent,” Truett said. “The story of the Magi is a church planting story. Their journey mimics the journey of church planting. Their vision is the same vision we have.”
The public is welcome to be a part of the day of celebration and worship as The Well “graduates” from a church plant to being a real live church, or as Truett said, “It’ll be a whopping huge party.”
Bob Bakken is Staff Writer for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.