Church Start

Michael Whitaker

Mike is the founding pastor of The Connection, a new faith community in the Edwardsville-Glen Carbon area of Illinois. He has helped churches begin new ventures throughout his time in ministry, and loves consulting with other pastors and congregations on how to start new things for new people. He'd talk to a coffee cup if it would listen, so feel free to give him a holler!  When he's not out meeting people, Mike enjoys spending time with his family and friends, making music, and watching his St. Louis Cardinals win.


Church Start

Rocio Reyes Williams

Rocio  is the planter of Churros and Chocolate, a multicultural new start in Marion. She was born in Mexico City. She and her husband Russ have two amazing kids and a growing puppy! Rocio is  passionate about adding value to people around her and making people feel loved. She  started a new ministry,  “Churros y Chocolate,” whose focus is reaching Hispanic and Anglo families. She has created a place where Spanish speaking people can hear the word of God preached in their own language.  




Dinner Church

In unique outreaches in their contexts, prior to March 2020 Troy UMC (at the St. Jacob campus) and Decatur Grace engaged their neighborhoods Dinner Church. Both ministries connected with folks over a meal while engaging them in worship and spiritual conversation. Although the ministries were ended due to COVID, both churches have found ways to continue to be in ministry with people who were reached through Dinner Church. When the situation allows, the Dinner Church model can serve as an effective way to reach unconnected people in the community.