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Across the Nation: A longtime minister retires, serving Muslim neighbors and more quick takes

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Across the Nation is our monthly rundown of news briefs, links and quotes from Churches of Christ across the U.S. Got an idea for this column? Email Audrey Jackson at [email protected].

Featured image (above): A group from the Memorial Church of Christ in Houston poses for a photo inside an airport. The 42 Christians — ranging in age from 14 to 63 — spent time at the Southern Africa Bible College and several Churches of Christ in South Africa as a part of the Memorial church’s short-term missions initiative.


GREAT FALLS — After nearly 30 years, the Great Falls Church of Christ is welcoming a new lead minister: Matt Burleson.

Burleson succeeds Scott Laird, the congregation’s longest-serving lead minister, who had preached for Great Falls since 1994.

Scott and Patty Laird accept a plaque recognizing their three decades of service in Great Falls, Mont.

Scott and Patty Laird accept a plaque recognizing their three decades of service in Great Falls, Mont.

Laird watched it become the largest Church of Christ in the state. The Montana native and his wife, Patty, have also served churches in Canada and New England.

But Burleson and his wife, Hannah, are not new faces for the church — he’s served as an evangelist for Great Falls since 2019.

Related: More room for ministry under a Big Sky

Previously, the graduate of three universities associated with Churches of Christ — Heritage Christian, Harding School of Theology and Lipscomb — served churches in Arkansas and his home state of Alabama.

After a six-month sabbatical, Laird will return as a part-time administrative minister.

“We have been blessed by this great body of Christians and look forward to a continued partnership even though it will look a bit different,” Laird, who serves on The Christian Chronicle’s national board of trustees, said in a Facebook post.


DEARBORN — The 40-member Parkside Church of Christ serves this city of about 110,000, which is home to the nation’s most Muslim residents per capita and the largest mosque in North America.

That demographic shift in the seven decades since Parkside’s founding has forced members to reevaluate the way they share the Gospel, minister Wayne Beason said.

That change has meant serving halal food at the church’s summer block party, helping sell goods made by immigrants and refugees at the farmer’s market and starting a conversation group for members to help English language learners.

Learn more on Episode 66 of The Christian Chronicle Podcast.


SPOKANE — Two Spokane Churches of Christ less than a mile from each other — the Northside and Sunrise congregations — will soon merge.

The churches had been in close fellowship since 2021, holding joint gatherings and events — even preacher swaps — before the elders of Northside and Sunrise decided to “bring the complementary strengths of the two congregations together.”

In addition to helping staff Bible classes and providing more volunteers for existing ministries, the merger will allow the group of Christians — about 130 from Northside and 100 from Sunrise — to expand outreach efforts toward their neighbors.

“It is apparent to us that God will accomplish much more through us together, rather than separate, when it comes to reaching new people for Jesus, serving our neighborhood and schools, shining a light in our community, and increasing the effectiveness of our ministries,” the churches said in an announcement.

The united membership will keep all existing elders, deacons and staff from Northside and Sunrise — which have both existed since the 1940s — as well as both buildings and take on a new name, yet to be announced.


APPOINTED — Claire Davidson Frederick as the inaugural director and Richard Beck as senior fellow for the Landon Saunders Center for Joy and Human Flourishing, which will launch in the fall of 2024 at Abilene Christian University in Texas. Mike Cope to the board of directors for Kairos Church Planting in Portland, Ore. Steve Shaner and Albert Coley as elders of the Clear Creek Church of Christ in Hixson, Tenn.

Frederick, Cope, Sculley (middle) and the Mitchells.

From left, Claire Davidson Frederick, Mike Cope, Betty Sculley (middle), and John and Julia Mitchell.

BAPTIZED — Aleigha Conway at Uplift, a summer camp hosted by Harding University in Searcy, Ark. Ally Nolen at the Bargerton Church of Christ in Lexington, Tenn. Betty Sculley at the Airport Church of Christ in Valdosta, Ga. John and Julia Mitchell at the Prattville Church of Christ in Alabama. Jordan Burt at the Germantown Church of Christ in Tennessee. Mark Mann at the Booneville Church of Christ in Mississippi.

HIRED — Jake Perkins as minister for the Grace Crossings Church of Christ in Conroe, Texas. Mark Powell as lead minister for the Donelson Church of Christ in Nashville, Tenn. Zack Martin as instructor of historical theology and dean of students at Heritage Christian University, which is associated with Churches of Christ, in Florence, Ala.

From left, Zack Martin, Luke Hall and Amy Bowman.

From left, Zack Martin, Luke Hall and Amy Bowman.

HONORED — Luke Hall as 2024 Madison Firefighter of the Year in Madison, Ala. Hall is a member of the Twickenham Church of Christ in Huntsville, Ala., and serves as a paramedic. His department previously honored him with two Lifesaving awards this year. Amy Bowman for 20 years of service to the Brentwood Hills Church of Christ in Nashville, Tenn. Bowman serves as the Brentwood church’s children’s minister.

Filed under: Across the Nation Churches merging Evangelism Great Falls Church of Christ Michigan Montana Muslim neighbors Muslim refugees National News Parkside Church of Christ Scott Laird Top Stories Washington

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