by Lisa Tome
When it comes to meeting his goal of planting 10 churches in as many years, Pastor Jess Bousa is a man on a mission.
His latest stop brings him to Elkton High School. The Elkton Campus of Restore Church opens at 10 a.m. on September 20.
It's been a busy few years for Pastor Bousa and his wife, Elizabeth, founders and lead pastors of Restore.
Restore Church opened a campus in Havre de Grace in 2011. They followed that with the opening of the church at Perryville High School in 2012.
The third campus opened at Constant Friendship in a movie theater in Abingdon in 2013. In 2014, construction began on a brick and mortar church and offices in Havre de Grace.
In 2015, the Elkton High gym and auditorium will be put to use by Restore. Jeremy Lewis will be the lead pastor at that campus.
Lewis is a Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Army. He currently serves as a Lay Minister at Restore. Lewis is currently performing an internship at Restore and plans to study divinity. Lewis already has earned a master's degree in strategic planning. He is a battalion commander in the army. "He has the heart for this. His habits followed his heart," said Pastor Bousa.
About one fifth of those who attend the Perryville campus of Restore live in Elkton. Pastor Bousa said that's one of the reasons that establishing a church in Elkton seemed the obvious choice.
"We prayed about the need in Elkton and it was an easy transition. There are needs here - spiritual needs, mentorship needs, and alcohol and drug (rehabilitation)," he said.
CRAVE, Restore's version of Celebrate Recovery, is already underway in Elkton and is held in partnership with the church at the Cecil County Health Department weekly.
Building a new campus will mean shuffling of parishioners. Pastor Bousa said that about 20 percent of those who attend services in Perryville are from Elkton.
"We prayed about the need in Elkton and it was an easy transition," he said. He said that in "God's economy you give away and plant seeds." "God brings new people, every time we sow seeds. Healthy cells grow. We plant these new campuses and if it's healthy, it grows. We trust in God."
Holding church in a school means that everything has to be set up and taken down each week. "We have a church in a 24-foot trailer," said Pastor Bousa. That audio/visual equipment, hospitality items, children's church equipment, and more is packed and unpacked by a crew.
Pastor Bousa, who has a master's degree in church planting, explained his lofty goal of 10 churches in 10 years.
"Ten churches in 10 years? That's impossible. It wasn't me. It's an impossible thing," he said. "Our plan is to expand our influences in God's purpose."
Pastor Bousa said that Restore "built the right relationships" in the Elkton area. "We want to be a good neighbor to the school. We plan to show appreciation to the high school staff," he said. They also plan a great deal of community outreach. They are already working with the Paris Foundation, which provides for the homeless. They plan to continue with the recovery effort and will also delve into human trafficking issues.
"We like to partner with the community and support existing programs. We can't do everything, but we will do the best we can to help with a couple of problems," he said.
"Our church exists to reach people who are far away from God. It doesn't matter if you're up and out or down and out...Everyone deserves a second chance. Everyone has potential. We are here to maximize that potential," said Pastor Bousa.