Every ministry has a leadership that God planted there. A leadership that He had been building for years to build them into the very witnesses He would need for that specific ministry. Grow New England and MetroGrace are a couple of such ministries, stretching out to bring the gospel to the New England region.
These ministries come under the direction of the Brown brothers, Jack and Jim, with help from many of friends and volunteers. Jim acts as executive director of MetroGrace in urban Philadelphia, and Jack helps to lead the church planting efforts of Grow New England. While they don’t work directly together, their missions strike a similar chord in God’s work. However, there were different paths taken for the both of them to reach it.
Jim (pictured at right) and Jack (pictured below) are only two of the seven children born to their parents, John and Dorothy Brown. They were born and raised in Philadelphia, only a block away from Third Brethren Church, now known as Urban Hope. In 1968, John died of heart disease, leaving Dorothy to raise their seven kids alone.
“Third Brethren Church understood what the Scriptures meant when it speaks of caring for orphans and widows.” Jack reflects. “We had the privilege of growing up under some great men of the Word not only in theory but practice.”
Jack and Jim were both greatly influenced by the pastor of their church, Alan Mangum, in finding their paths in ministry. Jack was known as a rebellious teenager, but he remembers Pastor Mangum was persistent in being a godly example toward him and his brother. Jack and Jim attended and graduated from Philadelphia College of Bible (now Cairn University). Jim also completed ministry degrees from Grace Theological Seminary and Westminster Theological Seminary, 1991 and 2009 respectfully. It was also in 1991 that he and his wife, Lisa, first became involved with the urban church development in Philadelphia.
Jack’s post grad work began close to home as well; in Third Brethren Church, under the direction of Pastor Steve Blake. He and Christine, his wife, traveled to Gloucester, Mass. for vacation in 1991. What they saw in terms of religion and fellowship prompted them to return so they could share the gospel.
Jack’s family moved to Gloucester in January of 1996, where Jack began pastoring a small Baptist church. In 2000, the Browns started North Shore Bible Church, which became part of the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches the following summer. This church continues to hold services in Essex, Mass.
“Our vision was to reproduce ourselves in various cities and towns on Boston’s north shore and throughout New England,” Jack explains. Ten years later, he and Christine were a part of starting the church planting ministry of Grow New England, where Jack acts as director and the current pastor of their latest work in Danvers, Mass.
His brother Jim is likewise the director of MetroGrace, an organization that helps develop community-based churches in urban neighborhoods. He also leads Grace Brethren congregations in the Holmesburg and Wissinoming communities of Philadelphia. Different paths, toward similar positions and callings from God. Jim agrees that his childhood in the inner-city and the pastor of their local church were a high influence on his pull into ministry. Since then, God has used the influence of the two brothers in their respective ministries to draw more people to Himself. –by Haley Bradfield
This story first appeared in GraceConnect eNews. To subscribe to the weekly e-newsletter that includes news and information from congregations in the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, click here.