SALT LAKE CITY – Four pastors and their families moved to Salt Lake City in 2011 at God’s direction, they say.
“I grew up in Idaho,” Will Galkin, one of the four pastors, said. “I knew the need for Salt Lake. When the four of us wanted to plant a church here, it all came together.”
Through conversations and building relationships to amass a core group, Lead Pastor Lukus Counterman, with Jonathan Albright, Jon Kopp, and Will Galkin, planted Gospel Grace Church with a heart toward Salt Lake City, right off the campus of University of Utah.
Today, at least 650 people attend Sunday morning worship at Gospel Grace, now located near downtown Salt Lake City, where they learn and experience how, as the church’s website states, “the gospel of grace changes everything.”
Gospel Grace Church desires to be a multiplying church in Utah, with a primary focus of planting and revitalizing churches from Spanish Fork in the south up to Logan to the north. To assist in this church planting movement, the four pastors created Plant for the Gospel (P4tG), a Utah-based mission organization, to serve as a clearing house for mission funds, the collaboration of missional efforts, and an encouragement through relationships for what they call the Family of Churches.
Three churches at the present time are part of this Family of Churches: Gospel Grace Church, Gospel Hope Church in southwest Salt Lake City, and Gospel Peace Church in Logan.
In 2018, Gospel Grace Church was able to assist a team of pastors to reinforce the previous gospel work being done by Trinity Baptist Church, which changed its name to Gospel Hope Church. Gospel Hope celebrated the fifth anniversary of this intentional renewal this year.
In 2021, a team of four pastors, their families, and approximately 40 adults from Gospel Grace Church and from out of state moved to Logan, Utah, to plant Gospel Peace Church. They chose Logan, located 80 miles north of Salt Lake City, “because it is a small town with a major university,” Paul Campbell, the lead pastor, told UI Connections, referring to the main campus of Utah State University.
“It was strategic and attainable,” Campbell continued. “Strategic because a university impacts the culture locally and, in time, internationally. Attainable because less than 1 percent of the population in Cache Valley attends an evangelical church.”
In addition to providing a 2-year pastoral residency dedicated to helping supply pastors for this church planting movement, one of the strategic initiatives of P4tG is Plant Camp. This is where people come to Utah to assist the Family of Churches develop redemptive relationships and become equipped to share their faith with the religious and irreligious alike, an aspect that makes Salt Lake City such a unique place to learn.
“Downtown Salt Lake City is headquarters for a worldwide religion, and yet [the city is] the seventh-highest in the nation for the LGBTQ community, according to a New York Times Aug. 13, 2023, article, so we have tremendous opportunities to share Jesus with the irreligious and religious alike,” Galkin told UI Connections.
Plant Camp has been in existence for 11 years and has averaged 300-400 attendees over the last three years. For more information about Plant Camp, visit www.plantcampslc.com.
Additionally, P4tG has been looking for ways to serve churches outside of their Family of Churches. In the summer of 2024 a Send Network week is to take place. Most of the outreach will be centered on serving Send Network church plants.
Commenting on how Plant Camp has specifically helped Gospel Peace Church, Paul Campbell explained, “We provided training and preaching [each evening]. The goal is for the teens to inform, serve and proclaim the gospel. The first summer we [Plant for the Gospel] put door hangers on almost every home in the valley,” which has a population of about 150,000. “This year we did two soccer camps in Logan,” among other outreach efforts.
The North American Mission Board sends Gen Send college students to work with and serve Gospel Grace and Gospel Peace churches for eight weeks at a time.
The Family of Churches continue to follow the pattern of team planting as they advance the church planting movement throughout northern Utah.
“Team planting has always been the healthiest way to plant churches,” Send Network Utah Idaho Missionary Bobby Wood told UI Connections. “The New Testament model shows that the Apostle Paul and others often served alongside many different people.
“Team planting helps provide complementary gifts that are needed during the planting process,” Wood continued. “Additionally, team planting allows for more community and less loneliness to take place during the early days of the church plant.”
For more information about this and other methods we use to promote church planting across our two states, visit www.uisbc.org/church-planting.