20 Years Article

“While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he fell on his knees and cried out, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he fell asleep… On that day… all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.” Acts 7:59-8:1
As the first martyr of the early church Stephen stood faithful until he “fell asleep”. Given news of his death the church was so inspired and reminded of Jesus’ self-sacrifice, that they scattered all throughout Judea and Samaria to fearlessly spread the Gospel! As Jesus preached in John 12 that “unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” Stephen’s death led to the scattering of the church which produced thousands of new disciples!
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Like the churches throughout Judea and Samaria, the church in Syracuse was born out of tragedy. While working in the mission field in Johannesburg, South Africa, Ron and Lavonia Drabot’s son, Joshua, died from pneumonia that he had contracted from a nurse in the nursery in the hospital. In response the Lead Evangelist in New York City asked if there was anything that could be done in memory of Joshua. At Ron’s request, a mission team of 29 disciples planted the Syracuse Church of Christ in the summer of 1993 in Ron’s hometown. My parents, Roger and Kama Parlour, were on that team, along with me at age six, and my sister Brittany who was three.
It all became “worth it” when on July 1, 1993 Syracuse celebrated its first baptism with Fannie Dixon! Fannie was the first of hundreds to come and is still a faithful member! The inaugural service held on July 18, 1993 hosted over 500 in attendance! Then to close the service, Ticia Fergot was baptized! The radius of fellowship extended out nearly two hours as more and more people heard the Word of God. Disciples from all over Central New York were driving in for Sunday worship and Midweek services. Truly God was present!

For many years the church supported the benevolent organization HOPE worldwide. Mike and Pam O’Donnell wholeheartedly spear headed those efforts so that thousands of people could be served and supported. From immunization shots to soup kitchens to Thanksgiving baskets, the disciples have always had a heart to serve the less fortunate.

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Just seven years ago the SoldOut Movement initiated MERCY Worldwide as a benevolent arm for all its churches. With similar events to those previously held by HOPE, MERCY has had a significant impact! This past December the Toy Drive exemplified that as 61 MERCY ambassadors from the Syracuse Church delivered Christmas presents to over 700 children around the community!

As a result of our faithfulness, God has blessed us with many great miracles to recount. Ron Drabot had been praying for his sister Diane to become a disciple for 19 years. On August 4, 1995, in her own swimming pool, we witnessed that prayer come to fruition! Another great victory for the church was in 2000 as we watched our young Christian Ronneil Herron walk onto the Syracuse University basketball team! God allowed him to spread the gospel throughout the entire SU athletic department and even reach out to future NBA Hall of Famers. In 2003, Ronneil’s senior year, the basketball team won its first ever National Championship which was just as much a celebration for the church as it was for the University and the city of Syracuse!

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Despite being few in numbers, (membership under 150), the church continued to show its generous heart! For several years the disciples gave over $100,000 in Missions Contribution! Even through some tough financial times and persecution, the church continued to directly support our sister church in Port Elizabeth, South Africa!
We believe that as disciples make disciples, churches must plant churches! To fulfill this mission, the Spirit blew 17 disciples, led by Chris and Theresa Broom, to the “Windy City” of Chicago, IL in the summer of 2006! Sacrifice was key to the success of the planting. This was exemplified by Pat Boea who gave up his $250,000 pension that he was only one year away from receiving. The Syracuse Church continued its sacrificial ways as it fully supported Chicago for the first nine months after was planted. Now, with a membership at about 200, the mighty Chicago Church nears an average Sunday attendance of 400!
In 2008, God called another mission team of 18 disciples, led by Andrew and Patrique Smellie, to plant a church in Washington D.C.! Earlier this year, WDCICC held the first church service on the capital mall in over 150 years. The church had over 500 in attendance!

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Syracuse’s impact is far reaching! Jen Watkins is an intern in London, England; Pat and Pam Boea are training to be shepherds in the South Central Region of the Los Angeles church; Chris and Theresa Broom lead the Orange County Region of Los Angeles; Brittany (Parlour) and her husband Mike Underhill lead the church in San Francisco; Andrew and Patrique Smellie lead the New York City Church and oversee the churches in the northeastern United States; Mike and Pam O’Donnell serve as shepherds in New York City where Mike also serves as the administrator for the east coast churches; Lee and Noni Pullen along with Kenny and Yahini Doles serve in the Washington D.C. Church; Renail Richards is in Santiago, Chile; Lucy Vasquez is in the Orlando Church; Roger and Kama Parlour serve as shepherds in the Boston Church; Pete and Deb Ramirez are helping lead the Dallas remnant; and Wayne and Lynne Ouellette lead our new remnant in Houston. And there are many more examples! What has happened in Syracuse over the years, and how it has impacted the world, is truly amazing!

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In August 2012 the Chicago Church sent out the San Francisco International Christian Church led by Mike and Brittany Underhill (formerly Brittany Parlour). From Syracuse are Anthony, Lisa, and Justin Fellis (Justin was recently baptized); Renee Rondinone, Earl and April Jones, and now joining them will be Dave and Ticia Fergot and their family! Equally exciting, just this month the Washington D.C. Church planted the Denver International Christian Church! We patiently anticipate all the good news that will come from these “grandchildren” churches!

Some have dubbed the Syracuse International Christian Church “The Little Church That Could”. Though it has resiliently persevered through various trials over the years, it has proven its faithfulness to God time and time again! Today, all 67 members stand with the same hope and vision to move forward confidently awaiting what God has in store! Truly Syracuse not only “Could” but “Did, Does, and Continues to Do!”
Syracuse Church, to see these great miracles, we have sacrificed gallant leadership, dear relationships, and of course, finances. Let us be assured that though many “feel the pain” of these sacrifices, when we get to heaven and see all of our new brothers and sisters, we will know that our “labor in the Lord [was] not in vain!” (1 Corinthians 15:58)
Let us never forget that it was “out of the most severe trials” that the Syracuse Church could be planted. Therefore, in moving forward, let our gratitude be from appreciation of the incredible sacrifice that has been proven in the last 20 years by the countless disciples who “put it all on the line” to save us – by baptism, by restoration, or by having our faith refreshed by placing membership! If you were not reached through prayers and efforts of the Syracuse Church, this principle still applies no matter which SoldOut Movement Church God used to bring you to Him!
Having been baptized here January 1, 2003, I feel very humbled to have the honor from God to serve the Syracuse church full time alongside my beautiful wife Courtney. We have so much respect for those who have “planted” and “watered” over the years! But “God [always] made it grow!” (1 Corinthians 3:6)
Therefore, let us continue to joyfully and wholeheartedly obey Jesus’ great commission by having the heart to go anywhere, do anything, and give-up everything for the cause. Then, and only then, can the impact of this great church ring throughout all of Syracuse, all of Central New York, all of the east coast, and to the ends of the earth!
And to God be all the glory!

Joel Parlour