Stone Edge Church put it in writing: “We believe Jesus loves everybody no matter their race, gender, station in life or background and all have access to the same redeeming grace found at the cross.”
The sentiment isn’t new to the church, but it has taken new life as Joey and Carla Ellis have come to pastor the congregation for the past year and a half.
For the couple, coming to Stone Edge and to Macon meant a return to their home state of Georgia after 15-plus years of direct involvement in world missions, including more than a decade living and working as church planters, pastors and trainers of church and missions leaders internationally.
“One main thing that drew us to Stone Edge was that it was already a truly multiracial and multicultural church,” Joey Ellis said. “That’s important to us. Carla and I felt the way God has shaped Stone Edge through the years was significant and we’re both so happy to be a part of that now.”
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The congregation calls itself multicultural and multi-generational — the claim proves true by the diversity of hands lifted in worship on Sunday mornings.
Off of the top of his head, Joey Ellis lists a substantial number of nationalities in the church — Filipino, Guatemalan, Nigerian, Kenyan, Trinidadian, Jamaican, Guanyin. As he paused to think further, he said, “and of course there are Americans of many descriptions, both racially and in different places and stages in life. As glad as I am to see different nationalities worship together here, it’s just as wonderful seeing young and old together and those who are very well off with those not so well off. They’re all accepting of one another in genuine fellowship and even more they’re realizing they’re part of one another in Christ’s body. There’s no difference because of who they are or where they’ve come from.”
While Joey Ellis said the church doesn’t target and seek different cultures or people groups in Middle Georgia, he said, “We do want to leverage who God has already made us for the good of the community. Who we are gives us the ability to speak into many cultures, some of which don’t feel they’ve been embraced by the community.”
While Joey and Carla Ellis have been at Stone Edge only a short while, the church itself is only five years old in its location on Zebulon Road surrounded by the Stone Edge neighborhood. Before moving to Zebulon and taking the name Stone Edge, Joey Ellis said the fellowship was on Wimbish Road and known as Victory Christian Center. Prior to that, he said it was known as Northside Assembly of God.
Stone Edge remains an Assembly of God congregation.
The church’s location, once a dairy farm, provides room for Stone Edge to meet and grow — plus it’s an ideal spot for the Oasis Road Race, an event that raises funds for fresh water wells in Africa.
“It’s a family friendly 5k, 10k and 1 mile fun run,” Joey Ellis said. “It’s on April 29 this year, literally right around the corner. We hope everyone would consider taking part. There’s something for all levels, it’s a professionally chip-timed race and of course it’s a great cause. It’s best if groups and individuals register by April 28. There’s information and online registration at oasisroadrace.com.”
Though hosted at Stone Edge, Joey Ellis said the event is a much larger area effort of U.S. Assemblies of God World Missions-Africa and its network of 45,000 African congregations serving in communities as touch points for well projects.
He said helping put on the event fits perfectly with Stone Edge’s commitment to reaching people everywhere with Christ’s compassion to meet physical and spiritual needs.
“You see an immediate crossing of cultural boundaries in the Bible in the Book of Acts as the first disciples went past barriers to love others and share the Gospel,” Joey Ellis said.
He said because of the congregation’s make-up there’s an ability to sincerely welcome and embrace others since so many know firsthand what it’s like to be excluded.
Carla Ellis said such a love for others, even those culturally different, should be a natural part of true Christianity.
“We want to reach out to hurting people here just like we did in other countries,” she said. “In India we worked with poverty, there’s poverty here. We worked to prevent human trafficking and restore those caught in it there, the same is needed here. We sought to bring healing to those ravaged by the effects of sin in other places, the work is the same here. We want to continue to mobilize and bring Christ’s help locally and globally. It’s a matter of all of us keeping missionary hearts, a missionary mentality, no matter where we are — even right here in Middle Georgia.”
Carla Ellis said it’s part of the ethos of Stone Edge to not just serve but to minister to the whole person: spirit, soul and body.
Joey Ellis said even in the midst of such a multicultural awareness, the church ministries and his role as lead pastor remain simple.
“I suppose we’re most concerned with the fundamentals in our teaching scripture but we’re very modern in our approach to worship,” he said. “God’s word is the anchor of the church and Jesus is our center. We love all people on the journey but that doesn’t mean we’re afraid to talk about sin and its disastrous effect on lives. We want to help bring people to faith in Christ by representing the Gospel lovingly and truthfully with clarity.”
Both Joey and Carla Ellis said the end goal of ministry is healed, changed lives brought about by the truth and power of God.
They said the concern for others and trust in God’s ability to make a difference in their lives is reflected in the new and old ministries at the church. Included is a new ministry called Living Free, which provides a supportive atmosphere for family caregivers.
Stone Edge is planning additional groups of other, similar types as well as an addiction recovery program. The church currently works with Middle Georgia’s Out of Darkness anti-human trafficking and victim restoration programs.
“We have ministries to serve our church family from birth to senior adults,” Joey Ellis said. “But we’re looking beyond our walls to how to serve others in Macon, like first responders, area colleges and universities, schools and wanting to leverage our existing relationships for the good of the community across many cultures. People reconciled to God should find it easy to be reconciled to one another. We talk a lot about that. That sort of cultural reconciliation is easily part of our atmosphere because Jesus fits into any culture. He doesn’t destroy culture, he fulfills culture and lets the beautiful parts shine through and brings redemption where there are ugly parts.”
Joey Ellis, 51, is a native of Hazlehurst and grew up in Columbus. He is a graduate of Southeastern University with a bachelor of arts degree in Bible and systematic theology and master of arts degree in Christian ministries from the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary. He is pursuing a doctorate degree in intercultural studies at the school.
Carla Ellis is from Cedartown. She graduated from Southeastern University with a bachelor of arts degree in education and received her master of education degree from Drury University.
Prior to work in India, the Ellises were associate pastors at Christian Renewal Church in Hilton Head, South Carolina, Evangel Temple in Columbus and Faith Assembly in Orlando, Florida. They also served at the Assemblies of God National Leadership Resource Center in Springfield, Missouri, promoting missions awareness and training leaders to reach young families.
Upon returning to the U.S. from India, Joey Ellis served as vice president of global operations for Global University, also based in Springfield. As such, he traveled overseeing 200 Global University offices in 150-plus countries worldwide.
Contact writer Michael W. Pannell at email@example.com.