Church Planter Hopes to Make the Gospel Part of Pittsburgh’s Renewal

Rob Wilton, his wife Annabeth and their four kids moved from New Orleans to Pittsburgh to start Vintage Church Pittsburgh. Wilton has been part of invigorating the church planting movement in Pittsburgh in recent months after successfully planting in New Orleans nearly 10 years ago. Photo by Daniel Delgado/NAMB

PITTSBURGH (BP) — Pittsburgh has, in decades past, been synonymous with steel. In the years following an economic hit to the blue-collar town, the city has been experiencing a renaissance as technological and medical companies are beginning to thrive.

While the economic renewal has been a boon for the city, missionary Rob Wilton is praying and working to see a spiritual revival as well. Only 15 percent of the population is evangelical, with less than 1 percent of that being Southern Baptist.

As Wilton, the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) Send City Missionary in Pittsburgh, has dug in and established roots, though, he has seen a responsiveness to the Gospel.

“It’s very clear Pittsburgh doesn’t have a harvest problem. There is a worker problem,” Wilton said. “Lord, would you begin to start sending workers into this harvest?”

Wilton serves as one part of the answer to that prayer. He caught the vision for serving Pittsburgh just a few years ago in 2017.

“The first time I was told about planting in Pittsburgh, it didn’t sound that great to me,” Wilton recalled. “I had never been here. I’d never experienced the city.”

Prayer, conversations with his wife, Annabeth, and several vision trips opened his heart and lit a fire in his heart for Pittsburgh. Yet, the transition required a step outside their family’s comfort zone. For Rob, it meant leaving the city in which he had grown up and planted his first church — New Orleans.

In 2008, the Wiltons planted Vintage Church in New Orleans’ Uptown section, launching the same year as the birth of the first of their four children. So, when God started to lay on their hearts that their time in New Orleans was coming to a close, there were nerves alongside the sense of clarity.

“The Lord spoke very clearly to me and told me that I was finished — that I had completed my assignment,” Wilton said of what he experienced after nearly completing 10 years leading the church.

“Vintage in New Orleans felt like kind of a first child for us,” Annabeth said. “It was a hard move to make and a hard decision to make, but we both had complete peace about it.”

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Source: Baptist Press