One Church’s Decision to Plant Others Has Stretched Generations

By Stan Friedman

LEE’S SUMMIT, MO (December 1, 2014) — The twentieth anniversary of Hillcrest Covenant Church’s decision to plant Deerbrook Covenant Church in Lee’s Summit was celebrated recently, with representatives of several churches planted by Hillcrest attending. The church officially was planted in 1996, two years after the decision to start the congregation.

Bill and Kathie Zell, who were charter members of Hillcrest Covenant and Deerbrook Covenant, shared at the event.

Bill and Kathie Zell, who were charter members of Hillcrest Covenant and Deerbrook Covenant, shared at the event.

Hillcrest, located in Prairie Village, Kansas, was planted by First Covenant Church of Kansas City, Missouri, so the celebration ultimately was in honor of what happened when that congregation made the decision to start new churches.

First Covenant, which was founded in 1887, planted Hillcrest in 1961. In addition to Deerbrook, Hillcrest planted Community Covenant Church in Lenexa, Kansas in 1974 and helped start Christ the Servant Covenant Church in Olathe, Kansas, in the 1970s. It currently is planting Pan Y Vino, Iglesia Cristiano. Community Covenant planted Harvest Ridge Covenant Church in Shawnee, Kansas in 1996.

“The commitment to reach new generations and populations with the gospel has propelled the churches of Kansas City to start new churches for over 50 years,” said Brian Johnson, director of church planting for the Midwest Conference. “Today these churches, some of which are ‘great-grandchildren’ of First Covenant, Kansas City, continue to work together to transform lives by planting new churches. Celebrations like Deerbook’s help us remember that not that long ago, faith-filled people went out on a limb and sacrificed much to start their church.”

Roger Gilbert, current pastor of Deerbrook, said, “We are thankful for the faithful history of First Covenant in planting Hillcrest Covenant in 1961 and the great number of churches planted by Hillcrest.” He added, “We have our plans and our prayers. God brings the success.”




  • Having had the sacred privilege of pastoring First Covenant Church, Kansas City from 1985 to 1989, celebrating both their Centennial as a congregation in 1987 and my own marriage in that place in 1988, it is a joy and blessing to read of the continued fruit for the kingdom through subsequent generations and church plants in the greater Kansas City area! “Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (John 12:24) God bless the children and grand-children and on-going living legacy of First Covenant, Kansas City, MO!

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