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Aug 08, 2017 | EDOT Staff

Three Church Plants to Reflect Growing Diversity of Houston Area

Three new church plants, which mark the first of seven envisioned by the end of 2020, will take root in early fall. Each reflects a response to the increasingly diverse Greater Houston population. In addition to a church plant in Generation Park, near Lake Houston in northeast Houston, the Diocese of Texas plans two churches that will focus on the Sudanese and Indian populations of Houston.

The Rev. Joann Saylors, Canon for Mission Amplification, addresses the first gathering of a new church plant in Southwest Houston. The initial members came from a Church of South India congregation, and with their vicar, the Rev. Roy Varghese, will reach out to the Indian population in the Greater Houston area.

In the spring of 2016, the Greater Houston area became the first major city in the United States where the Anglo population was no longer a majority, leading a trend that will spread to the rest of the country by 2020. Dr. Stephen Klineberg, a sociologist and professor at Rice University, and primary architect of the survey, reported that Houston’s metro area is “the single most ethnically diverse urban region in the country.”

The three church plants in 2017 are part of the Diocese’s response to share God’s good news in Houston’s growing multi-cultural environment. Earlier in the year, the Diocese began to search for leadership with whom to partner in these new endeavors. Three priests shared their particular passion for the gospel as expressed in the Great Commission and, with the Diocese, have discerned three distinct church planting visions.

The Rev. Agook Kuol, ordained in the Church of Sudan, has been commissioned as missioner to lead a Sudanese congregation in Houston. The Rev. John Soard, most recently rector of St. Thomas, Wharton, will become vicar of the new church plant in Generation Park. The Rev. Roy Varghese, ordained by the Church of South India (CSI)* and previously vicar of Holy Immanuel Anglican Church, a CSI congregation in Houston, will serve as vicar for a new church plant for Houston’s Indian population.

Bishop Andy Doyle said he was “deeply grateful that Agook, John and Roy have answered God’s call to plant churches as part of our mission strategy. These three new communities of grace come after a long journey of discernment by staff, clergy and parishioners,” he said, “We are participating in God’s expansive vision to share a transformative Gospel. These planters, their families and churches are a big part of God’s unfolding work in our midst and I give thanks for their courage, missional spirit and willingness to serve.”

The Rev. Joann Saylors, newly appointed Canon for Mission Amplification, echoed the bishop’s excitement. “We are blessed to serve in a mission field where we see the diversity that reflects the expansiveness of the Kingdom of God. These new communities demonstrate our commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ, which creates one new people out of the peoples of the earth.”

“We want to reach the people we believe God in Christ Jesus invites us to meet in the world,” Bishop Doyle said. “It is a plentiful harvest if we will but labor with God.” (Luke 10:1-20)”

All three priests will begin their new work by this fall.

*The Church of South India (C. S. I.) is the second largest Christian Church in India, a union of the Anglican and protestant churches in south India with four million members. It is one of three united churches in the Anglican Communion.