PROVIDENCE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH PROMOTES DIVERSE FAMILY OF FAITH
BY AMY COYNE BREDESON
The Rev. Dr. William Ward of Providence Presbyterian Church wants his church to be a multigenerational, multicultural family of faith. He has already accomplished that through his diversified staff.
While some denominations don’t allow women to be ministers, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) does. At Ward’s right hand are three women who keep the church running.
Associate Pastor for Family Ministries and Missions, the Rev. Dr. Cibele Santos, was born and raised in Brazil and is the mother of three young children. The church’s music director and organist, Dr. JooSoo Son, hails from Seoul, South Korea, and is the mother of six children.
Administrative assistant Mary Daly, originally from Virginia, brings another level of diversity – she has cerebral palsy. Annie, Mary’s service dog, accompanies her to work each day where she has become known as the Administrator of Love and Joy.
“So often we’re just all the same,” Ward said. “This is just another way that we’ve tried to have our church staff reflect real life. I always thought that was something very special about Providence that you don’t see many places. We also try to reflect our community in our ministries.”
Located at 171 Cordillo Pkwy., on Hilton Head Island, Providence is just down the road from Woodhaven Villas and Cordillo Courts, where many Spanish-speaking immigrants live. To minister to their neighbors, the church offers a weekly English as a Second Language class. A church bus picks up participants from both neighborhoods and takes them home afterward.
Every Wednesday night from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., a group gathers at the church to learn English, while another group meets for adult Bible study. Ward is currently teaching a class based on the video series, “The Chosen.”
Free childcare with Christian education is offered for participants of both programs, and everyone gets together for dinner from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
The ESL class continues to grow – there were 26 new participants during the current semester of classes. Eight South American countries were represented at a recent ESL session. The group studies English in class, then they practice speaking English during dinner.
As part of the church’s mission to “cause God Joy,” Providence allows two startup churches to use their facilities at no cost. Those churches add even more diversity to the campus.
“We’re very blessed with the campus here,” Ward said. “We have about 26 acres. We wanted to figure out how we could use our campus to give back to the kingdom in a way that promotes this idea of a multicultural, multigenerational family of faith.”
The nondenominational Oxygen Church, led by Pastor William Johnson, holds services at Providence’s Chapel in the Woods at noon Sundays. Bethel Church, led by Pastor Jose Francisco Majano is an Assembly of God church that caters mostly to Spanish speakers. Bethel Church meets at Providence’s Mills Chapel at 6 p.m. Fridays for a Bible study and at 6 p.m. Sundays for worship. Majano also leads a church in Hardeeville.
“It’s been amazing having all different people worshiping here, whether it’s Providence or Oxygen or Bethel Church,” Santos said. “We have different styles of worshiping God, but we have a common belief – one God in three persons (God the Father; the Son, Jesus Christ; and The Holy Spirit.)”
Providence offers two services on Sundays – an 8:30 a.m. outdoor worship service and a 10:30 a.m. sanctuary worship service, which is also streamed live for those who cannot attend in person. The church also offers Sunday School at 9:30 a.m.
For more information on Providence Presbyterian Church, call 843-842-5673 or go to providencehhi.org.