Starting a Church is Not Little Business

Posted by: Dana Tags: There is no tags | Categories: Stories


Meet Keon Abner, Church Planter

Beginning in June, BHITC’s Community Development team partnered with Bay Presbyterian Church (BPC) and New Life at Calvary (NLAC) to see a future church plant established at Family Ministry Center through the leadership of church planter and pastor, Keon Abner. BHITC’s equipping process for Pastor Keon and his core team is based on Christian Community Development philosophy and practice, Asset-Based Community Development and other urban ministry principles the organization has learned over its almost two decades of experience in city ministry.

Q: Tell us about yourself and what led you to want to plant a church in the Clark-Fulton neighborhood?

A: I’m a native Clevelander. I grew up on the East Side in New Life at Calvary Church. I’m married to Ashley, and we have a two-year-old daughter. The diversity of the Clark-Fulton neighborhood spoke to my heart as a church planter. I have always felt God calling me and gracing me to help people deal with issues of race in a life-giving, diverse church that comes together through our common need for Jesus, our need for a Savior.

Q: What does the term “long-term missionary” mean to you?

A: For my wife and I and our church plant team, we want to commission a group of individuals who want to plant their feet within the Clark-Fulton community. We are in the process of moving into the neighborhood, which to us, means we are taking up stake in this community. The idea of a “long-term missionary” means you don’t necessarily have a return date, and like most missionary experiences, people on the journey end up with their hearts transformed more than the people you came to “reach.”

Q: How did you first get connected to BHITC?

A: I met BHITC’s executive director last year when author Daniel Hill was here to discuss his book, White Awake, and I thought that would be the end. (Never the case with Brian!) When NLAC decided to partner with BPC for this church plant, I knew I needed experts in the area of urban ministry to equip our team. Many of the courses BHITC teaches align with exactly the content our team would need, and I soon learned this neighborhood would be a new focal point for the organization! What a partnership in the making.

Q: How has the BHITC team been helpful to you and your team?

A: The team at BHITC has been extremely helpful in doing just what we intended. We meet twice a month to educate and expose my team to issues of race, urban ministry and CCD principles, which allows these values to be instilled into each person. Urban church planting is very different. You need these competencies, collaborations and principles to plant a successful church in a community that’s poor, diverse and very dense.

Q: How can people learn more or get connected to your team?

A: Let’s meet! If God has put this work on your heart, I’d love to hear from you. My email is:

Join in praying for the team, Keon and his family’s integration into the neighborhood and cross-cultural relationship building. God-willing, the team looks to launch their church in the spring of 2021.

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