In August 2015, Aaron and Nichole Carpenter and their children uprooted their lives in Alabama to move to the Pacific Northwest to plant a church. With little idea of where they would go, they began researching, and prayerfully settled on Tacoma, Washington as their new home and the location of the church plant.
The Pacific Northwest presents a hard environment for evangelical work. Aaron explained, “In general, people are not religious, and people who are keep it quiet.”
Though they are not religious, most people have some sort of church background, ranging from Catholicism to mainline denominations. Many people have either made a conscious decision to stop attending, or they have gradually fallen away from the church. Either way, many view organized religion with skepticism.
To break down these walls, the Carpenters, along with another family who had moved with them to start the church, began connecting with the community immediately by volunteering every opportunity they could. Most significantly, they got involved with Metroparks Tacoma, the city’s parks and recreation department. They began helping host the events, beginning with their Harvest Festival. From there, they were asked to host more and more activities, with a local elementary school even asking them to run their summer carnival.
On September 18, 2016, they were able to launch Soundside Church. They met in the Center at Norpoint, one of Metroparks Tacoma’s community centers. Their first service saw 69 people in attendance, about 15 of whom came from out of town to support the church’s launch.
Now, three years later, Soundside averages about 75 local people each Sunday. The church continues to be heavily involved in outreach, and they host many of Metropark’s events, including the Harvest festival, trunk or treat, and parent’s night out.
God continues to be faithful to the Carpenter family and Soundside Church. Aaron recalled numerous times where he thought the church would have to be shut down due to lack of finances, only to find that the next day they had gained a new partner or tithing family. Furthermore, God has provided a strong support network of fellow church planters and partners who keep the Carpenters going when things get tough.
Soundside Church is now working to launch a second church in Tacoma. The Carpenters are excited about this new mission, but there are also many challenges. In the upcoming months, they will need to ensure that Soundside has the financial capabilities to support this new church, and they will also need to seek out Godly leaders for the new location.
As Soundside continues to grow, the Carpenters are overjoyed to see what the Lord is doing in the Pacific Northwest. They have planted their lives in Tacoma, and now the Lord is planting seeds in the hearts of the people around them.
The Carpenter family is part of the Texas Baptists Missionary Adoption Program (MAP), and have been adopted by Coastal Bend Fellowship Church in Kingsville. MAP partners churches in the U.S. with churches in the host city or country to jointly sponsor a missionary. Contact Gloria Tillman, MAP Ministry Assistant, at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how your church can adopt a MAP missionary or visit texasbaptists.org/map today.