The state of Connecticut has very little Evangelical presence, and Pastor Jim Townsley can count on one hand the number of Christian legislators that he is aware of who are serving in the State Capitol.
Despite that fact, or perhaps because of it, in 2017 Pastor Townsley created a weekly Bible study ministry in the Connecticut State Capitol for legislators, and this year, he joined with Capitol Ministries.
“I want to see people saved, that is my first objective,” he said. “My goal is to get the Gospel out, to give a Christian, godly voice to these legislators, an understanding of what is right and what is wrong, biblically.”
Pastor Townsley began the ministry to legislators with the support of Central Baptist Church in Southington which he and his wife, Janet, planted in 1975 shortly after graduating from college. Pastor Townsley serves as senior pastor to the nearly 400-member congregation.
The first year of the weekly legislative Bible study was tough going with two to three legislators attending. After some were voted out of office in the mid-term elections last year, Pastor Townsley started over. He began, once again, to visit legislators one by one in their offices, talk about God, and pray with them.
He learned about Capitol Ministries in a conversation with a member of a church in Vermont where he was a guest preacher.
Intrigued and encouraged, Pastor Townsley contacted Ralph Drollinger and found a kindred spirit. He was heartened to learn that Drollinger has been successfully planting ministries to elected officials for 22 years and has a well-established methodology that could benefit his efforts in Connecticut. After the first meeting, Pastor Townsley decided to partner with Capitol Ministries.
“What Capitol Ministries is doing is amazing,” Pastor Townsley said. “Ralph has planted Bible studies to the Cabinet, the Senate, and the House, and this alone has given Christians the courage to stand up.”
“I’ve been here 44 years and have watched what has happened to our state.
“The decisions legislators make influence every part of life from bathroom bills and gambling to abortion and same sex marriage, and more politically correct issues keep coming up.
“These decisions affect people’s lives in every way and unfortunately, we are losing many good people. Retirees and young people alike are leaving. There is so little influence of God in our state. We have to have a light, a spiritual light, and that is what the Bible study will provide.”
Pastor Townsley is experienced in building and growing ministries.
Under his leadership, the church began K-12th grade Central Christian Academy in 1984. The school currently has 130 students.
In 1992, the church began the New England School of the Bible which offers evening and on-line classes and one-year and four-year diplomas.
The New England Baptist College, a residential institution that provides training for people going into ministry, was founded in 2004. The church campus is situated on 18 acres.
Lauded as a leader in church planting, Pastor Townsley and Central Baptist Church has initiated and guided the starting of 17 churches and helped to plant more than 100 Baptist churches.
He is the author of many articles on church starting and an iBook that is in the process of being published. Three of his children are also church planters, one of whom is working in northern Japan.
If you wish to support Pastor Townsley, you may contact him at: [email protected]