Church a big part of pastor’s life story
    September 8 2014 by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor

    Editor's Note: This is part two of the story, Emmanuel Church reborn as Meeting Place

    The history of Meeting Place is a big part of Vince Riley’s life story. A native of Charlotte, he gave his life to Christ at 18 in a pastor’s living room. Riley grew up in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion church. For 10 years he was a police officer in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police department.
    Riley resigned from the police department to join the staff of Charlotte’s Nations Ford Community Church as associate pastor of evangelism and outreach. Phillip Davis, a former vice president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, is the senior pastor.
    Ten years later in 2002 the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association asked Riley to become a director of crusades, planning and coordinating festival events for Franklin Graham and Will Graham. He served there for eight years. “I traveled with the Billy Graham Association doing crusades in the United States and Canada, but my heart began to be turned back home,” Riley said. “As I was seeing people come to the Lord in the crusades my heart was torn for the people in my own community. ... I was convicted because I had people in my own backyard who didn’t know Christ.”


    Contributed photo
    Vince Riley, left, along with Bob Lowman, center, and Glenn Flowe, right, worked together to ensure the future of Meeting Place Church and a gradual closing of Emmanuel Baptist Church.


    During weekend trips to Charlotte he met with friends who were interested in launching a church plant. He shared his vision for a new church plant with Bob Lowman, director of missions for Metrolina Baptist Association, and began having Bible studies in the Metrolina Baptist Association building in 2006.
    Lowman introduced Riley to George Sherman, pastor of Shady Brook Baptist Church northwest of Charlotte. “I had a great meeting with pastor Sherman,” Riley said. “We connected. George told me that when he first came to Shady Brook the church’s vision was to be diverse, and they want to encompass people from all of the community.”
    Sherman went to the church leadership and said, “Do you remember when I first became your pastor, you said you wanted to be diverse and expand? We now have a great opportunity to do that. An African-American church wants to meet in our building.”
    “He went to bat for us and the church agreed to let us meet there rent-free for about a year,” Riley said. “God blessed us and their church even helped us reach the community. We formed a wonderful partnership with Shady Brook and pastor George Sherman. After a year we were able to move to our own location for about five years.”
    Meeting Place’s new location was the abandoned Coolwood library in a shopping center. “We fixed it up and made it into a sanctuary,” Riley said. “We were there for about five years until we started having conversation with Bob and with pastor Glenn and the leaders at Emmanuel.”
    Riley told the story behind the church’s name. “When I was in Winnipeg, Canada, one weekend, the rest of the Graham team had left, I was there alone,” he said. “It was snowing like crazy. I was questioning God about why I was there. Being from the South I have to tell you, I’m not use to cold weather. So I’m thinking to myself, what I doing here?”
    “You know when you ask a question like, that God has answers for you and He began to speak to my heart. He kept saying the harvest field is in my own backyard. And that kept running through my mind all weekend.”
    That Sunday Riley attended a church in Winnipeg called the Meeting Place Church. “It was a unique place, it was very diverse, the worship was great and I thought this is a cool name,” he said.
    Later that week in his devotion he read Exodus 33:7. The scripture said it was Moses’ custom to go into the tent of meeting to consult with the Lord. “I had an epiphany at that moment,” he said. “I thought that is what the meeting place should be about. People should come and meet with the Lord. So the name Meeting Place was born out of that scripture.”

    Related Story:

    Emmanuel Church reborn as Meeting Place

    9/8/2014 12:43:44 PM by K. Allan Blume, BR Editor | with 0 comments
    Filed under: church, church partnership, Meeting Place

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