Slate had a piece today by Ruth Graham about efforts to plant evangelical churches in New England, which Graham calls “the most proudly and profoundly secular region in America.” She opens with the following anecdote:
The pastor of a small church in rural Vermont is not the kind of guy you’d expect to speak with a slow North Carolina drawl. But Lyandon Warren felt a calling to New England ever since he heard a speaker in his college Christian Studies program explain that less than 3 percent of the region’s population is evangelical Christians. By his denomination’s definition, those numbers indicate an “unreached people group”—a whole population without a viable Christian community. “My heart was opened,” he says. “To be a foot-soldier on that battleground is a joy and a privilege.”
In 2006, Warren moved to Vermont to open a new Baptist church in a town whose last church had closed its doors the year before due to lack of attendance. His congregation, which meets in the closed church’s old white clapboard building, grew slowly but steadily, and in early September, Warren opened up a second new church in a nearby town. Similar churches have sprung up throughout the region: New England has become a mission field, and there are seeds of a revival sprouting.
In her story, Graham links to this post by Collin Hansen about a regional Gospel Coalition conference held in Boston, and one of the people connected to this, Presbyterian minister Stephen Um, is a major figure in Graham’s story.