Aim Church Snapshot:
"AIM" Church" or Ashland Impact Mission is a church plant in Ashland, Virginia, about 15 miles north of Richmond just seconds off Interstate 95. We meet at Hanover Academy on 117 Frances Road, Ashland, Va. 23005 (Post Office Box 105). Ashland has dubbed itself as "Center of the Universe." The railroad runs through the middle of the town and right by Randolph Macon College, my Alma Mater. It's a small town of about 8,000 and Randolph Macon is a liberal arts college of 1400 students (a United Methodist school).
I retired after 30 years in the PCUSA. I was 3 years in eastern North Carolina (Mt. Olive); 20 years at New Hanover in Mechanicsville, Va. (about 20 minutes southeast of Ashland at the other end of Hanover County. I am technically "Assistant Pastor for Evangelism and Church Development at St. Giles in Richmond (our home church prior to seminary), but I am basically unpaid. I meet with the Session and preach at St. Giles once or twice a year to fill in for Keith Hill, its pastor. St. Giles is our "mother church," and supports “Aim” from their endowment fund ($7,000 per year, so far). We have, also, received $5,000 in support from Restoration Church (EPC). Restoration split from New Hanover in the PCUSA while I was in St. Petersburg, Florida at Northeast Church (PCUSA). I left New Hanover to help Northeast heal after a major split of that church with only 1/3 of its membership left after a split resulting in an EPC church in St. Petersburg.
A major problem Aim faces is that neither of our supporting churches seeded any members to jump start “Aim.” My wife and I are a vigorous 69 years young or old-depending on perspective! Crestwood, Christ Presbyterian, and Community West (all ECo) have, also, lent monetary support. The pastors are all friends and great encouragers.
We are seeking to reach the new neighborhoods in and around Ashland. We are shocked that webuilt a new home in a new neighborhood full of young folks and children. We intended to use a "house church" model, but the principal (and her husband) at Hanover Academy became our best friends and biggest church supporters. Hanover Academy's board allows us to use the school free of charge, and hoping to boost their sagging enrollment (Hanover's public schools have become the best around) with the church enhancing their visibility in the community.
Mission to motel families has been a key focus in our efforts; we expanded last fall to minority teens, who live close by in apartments. Most are raised by single moms and suffer the effects of absentee Dads. We, likewise, are church for homeless men, who live in tents in the woods near us. Aim Church further became a key catalyst for "Ashland Open Door," a new partnership of Ashland area churches, businesses, and compassionate Christians seeking to address the lack of affordable housing, lack of public transportation, and primarily, low-paying jobs for Ashland’s less fortunate. So, we, seek to help open doors of opportunity for the marginalized as we open our hearts to them.
For about 10 months we sought to offer a 5:00 Sunday worship option to the community while ministering to the motel families and homeless, but that effort, while stable, was not growing, and was sustained mostly by church members from other churches, who were already significantly involved in their own home churches. Mission became overwhelming for our former core team, who were seeking to grow spiritually themselves. So, we "bit the bullet," shifting to Sunday mornings in September, 2015, separating worship-fellowship and nurture from our local mission efforts to the needy. We have 7-15 on Sunday mornings, utilizing an approach akin to what we see in the second half of 1st Corinthians 14. As a former public school teacher, coach and school principal, it reminds me of kindergarten "show and tell-taking turns!" I prepare each week for a sermon, but don't give it. I do speak more than the others, but seek to get everyone involved in the theme, question, or issue of focus for that morning. I send out power point slides in advance along with a video preview to encourage reflections prior to coming and, also, to try to spur the use of social media to invite others to “try Aim.” (not working so far).
I have a personal Facebook page (Tommy Nance) and Aim has a Facebook page (Ashland Impact Mission), and a good friend from Florida handles our website (AshlandAimChurch.com).
We gave 12% to missions-benevolence last year; we are budgeting 15% this year. We have set aside 10% to address the Exponential challenge of 10% for new church planting. Further, we have $25,000 set aside in a "Future's Fund" for a new pastor when the time comes. A young pastor with young family will have outlets to reach others that my wife and I lack. So, tentmakers out there, “Aim” might be an opportunity for you to pray over!
Bill Cain of Charlotte is a great supporter and servant leader for all of us in East Central, and seeks to involve us in monthly conference calls to exchange ideas and support one another.
Our great friend in Orlando, Florida, Bill Freeland, donates quite generously-both in the financial arena and technically, working single-handed and long distance on our Facebook and website.