After faithfully serving for 17 years as a member, minister, then elder in good standing, Elder Bruce Clark sensed God calling him to build a ministry of godly leaders who know God, strengthen their families, and influence the marketplace. In March of 2004, Elder Clark was formally released, with a blessing by his pastors, to plant and pastor a new ministry.
A small group of ten began to meet from house-to-house to share and receive the vision of God for Advance Church. These were great times of spiritual growth, sharing, and support for one another. But these days were not met without major challenges. Within the first few months, two persons had heart attacks, a mother of one person had a heart attack, some were out of jobs, some were challenging the faithfulness of God, and more. But through prayer, fasting, communication, and sharing, the members of the Advance family prevailed. God healed each person, people received new jobs, and those who were disheartened were strengthened through the Word of God. These early days helped to establish a culture of care, love, and support within our church community.
After two months of meeting from house-to-house, the small group agreed that God was saying it is time to "go public." In May of 2004, Advance Church began meeting at the American Film Institute (AFI) theatre in Downtown Silver Spring, Maryland. This was nothing short of a miracle. How could a startup church with ten members and not a lot of resources secure a lease with one of the more state-of-the-art theatres in the country? The favor of God was being manifested in our lives.
We started conducting "preview services" to invite close associates to experience what God was doing at Advance Church. During these times we focused on building infrastructure, while perfecting certain areas of the ministry. Then on July 11, 2004 we held our "Launch Celebration" with many friends, family, associates and guests in attendance. It was an awesome time in the presence of God.
Since the launch, God has blessed Advance Church with an awesome core of people who have achieved "good success" in caring for each other serving the homeless, raising kids who are catching a vision of being godly leaders, reaching out to local chambers of commerce, mentoring politicians, conducting seminars on Jesus and politics, doing community service in Downtown Silver Spring, interceding for the city with other ministries, bringing business owners together in the local church, mentoring men, and leading national projects ranging from hurricane relief efforts to forums on faith and politics. We have planted a church in Malawi and done international missions in Moldova, Germany and Switzerland.
As we look forward to the days ahead, we are fully persuaded that God will continue to empower us to bring hope and healing to the lives of many, to strengthen families, to advance His Kingdom in the marketplace, and to raise up a new generation of youth who will change their worlds for and with Jesus.
To God be all the glory for what He has enabled us to do for Him, thus far! We have only just begun in knowing and serving The Lord Jesus Christ and loving people. We are ADVANCING by His grace.
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