In January of 2018, Bryce and Katie Staggs arrived at Rocky Creek hurting and desperately needing a place to heal from the trenches of ministry. Both desired to grow in maturity and in leadership to prepare for the future that God would have for them in vocational ministry. Bryce and Katie found that there were two avenues already in existence at Rocky Creek that would provide the healing, preparation, and support they needed as a young couple to be prepared for Godʼs next steps in their lives.
The first place that allowed Bryce and Katie to get established in community at Rocky Creek was through their participation in a Gospel Group. Brenn and Brenda Bagwell had agreed to teach and mentor a group of young married couples who happen to be the same ages of Brenn and Brendaʼs own young adult children. Bryce and Katie joined the Bagwellsʼ Gospel Group with other young married couples. That group provided the community and support the Staggs needed to make Rocky Creek their home. The Bible study and fellowship helped the group grow together spiritually and relationally, and the Staggs found the base support needed for friendship at the church.
Bryce desired to prepare for the ministry by continuing his education through seminary classes at Southern Seminary, but he also desired to begin the residency program offered at Rocky Creek for those pursuing seminary degrees. The residency program enabled Bryce to get practical church staff experience while completing his seminary degree. Bryce looks back on his time as a resident at Rocky Creek and recalls, “I looked forward to the Monday morning staff meeting each week where I got to hear insight from ministry veterans. Throughout the week, staff members would let me be a fly on the wall for many conversations. They would ask for my input on different decisions. The residency program gave me a safe space to grow and to get hands-on experience for what it would be like to lead a church in different scenarios.”
As graduation from seminary approached, Bryce and Katie began to prepare and seek Godʼs will for their next ministry assignment beyond the residency program at Rocky Creek. At the same time the Staggs were praying about their next ministry assignment, the South Carolina Baptist Convention and Rocky Creek were also praying about partnerships in the state to strengthen churches that were struggling. Pastor Travis and the Rocky Creek staff were open to partnering with another local church to assist in revitalizing a church in the upstate. In partnership with the South Carolina Baptist Convention, Rocky Creek identified that Cedar Grove Baptist Church in Fountain Inn would be a great partnership opportunity.
Cedar Grove closed their doors in March 2020 due to COVID-19. Many believed that the church would never reopen. Thankfully, three faithful members of the church believed that God still had more work to do in the surrounding community and continued to have faith that God was not finished with Cedar Grove and the churchʼs potential impact in the community. God was ready to reopen the doors at Cedar Grove at the same time Bryce was ready to lead. The timing of Bryceʼs graduation from seminary and the conversations about revitalizing Cedar Grove reminds us that God never closes a door without opening another.
Bryce began serving as interim pastor of Cedar Grove in mid-July of 2020. The church officially relaunched worship services in August. Since that time, God has shown that He is faithful. The average weekly attendance has more than tripled since the relaunch as the church has focused on staying faithful to the Word of God. Bryce and Katie even found a creative way to add to the attendance at Cedar Grove by announcing the arrival of their first baby, Levi James Staggs, on September 30.
Bryce asks of our Rocky Creek family, “Please be praying that the Lord will send families to Cedar Grove to model what true worship looks like, both in the church and at home. Know that your commitment and investment in Rocky Creek has translated into the growth of another church in another community. Thanks to Rocky Creekʼs investment in Katie and me, we are able to go and invest in others in the community.”