In early 2020, Dayne and Ana Carraway moved to the Baltimore, Md., area to plant a church. They were supported by their home church, Grace Brethren Church in Clinton, Md. (Irv Clark, lead pastor), and coached by Assist Church Expansion.
As a young boy, Dayne attended a summer camp at Camp Tuk-A-Way, a Charis Fellowship affiliated camp in Virginia. “I heard a terrifying message about a horrible place called hell and a beautiful place called heaven,” he said. “I immediately asked what I had to do to avoid hell.” Dayne’s family lived in a neighborhood near Grace Brethren Church in Clinton, and he began walking there for Sunday school and church events.
“I lived in two worlds,” he remembered. “I would attend church on Sundays, but the rest of my time was spent with my suburban, African American family with little thought of God.” Dayne did not make a serious commitment to God until many years later at Momentum Youth Conference. Francis Chan gave a message where he said, “The real cost of following Jesus could be your entire life,” and Dayne felt God stirring his heart toward what that could mean for his future.
Dayne graduated from Liberty University with a degree in communications and a minor in youth ministry. In 2011 he married his high school sweetheart, Ana. The two met while Ana’s dad was stationed at an Air Force base near Clinton. She also had an encounter with God at a Momentum Youth Conference, and her faith grew as she attended Grace Brethren Church in Clinton. She received a degree in English from The Ohio State University.
In 2012 Dayne became the youth pastor at Grace Brethren Church in Clinton. Ana taught at the Christian school connected to the church, and together they had 3 kids, Cole, Chase, and Camilla.
In 2017 the Carraways experienced a life-altering situation that God used to prepare them for church planting. There was a tragic death of a student that was being discipled by Dayne and attended the school where Ana taught. Reeling from the situation and unsure what to do, the community looked to Dayne for guidance. “It was my first experience with being in a lead-pastor type role,” he said. “The Holy Spirit gave me a peace that surpassed all understanding.”
Dayne took time off to pray and seek where God would have him go next. Dayne met with Assist Church Expansion’s director Nathan Bryant. As Dayne and Ana prayed over planting a church, they kept saying, “We’ll just have the next conversation and see what happens.”
In 2018, the Carraways committed to moving and planting a church in Towson, about an hour north of Clinton. In July 2019 Dayne was ordained, and 10 people from their home church committed to joining their church planting team.
The Carraways moved to Towson in March, and within a week the city was on lockdown because of COVID-19. Without a physical meeting space and with limited options on how they could meet people, they had to get creative. They committed to frequenting safe public spaces, such as city parks, and getting familiar with their neighborhood. Instead of being discouraged by the inability to open a church building and invite people in, they chose to be grateful for the time to meet neighbors and establish relationships with their community in non-traditional ways.
When deciding on a name for the church, the Carraways thought of the story of the woman at the well. While her encounter with Jesus was unexpected to her, it was not unexpected to Him. Despite their cultural differences, Jesus had an intentional conversation with her. At the well, the woman found purpose and salvation.
Coming from different backgrounds themselves, Dayne and Ana knew, “If we are going to be the church in our community, we want to be a place where people from different backgrounds can gather.” The Church at the Well represents a place where encountering Jesus enables people to cross cultural lines and be the multicultural family of God.
The planting team for Church at the Well hosts their meetings via Zoom each week. Dayne posts videos twice a week on social media. Dayne’s “Wellsday” videos are posted every Wednesday as an update for their supporters and prayer team, and his “Wellcome to the Weekend” videos are a 5–10 minute devotional posted every Friday as an encouragement to people as they start their weekend.
Dayne knew with the influx of online services due to the pandemic, people were not likely to listen to a long sermon by a pastor they have never heard of. Instead, he chose to engage on social media with short, easily digestible content.
“Our goal isn’t to be a huge church,” Ana said, “but to be one that plants churches. We believe in the local church and the power it has to share the Gospel and impact people’s lives.” Pray for the Carraways and the Church at the Well as they continue to live out their mission “to become a legacy church, pouring our resources into a growing network of churches serving their neighbors.”
Send the Carraways an encouraging note here.