The Latin word Plus Ultra, translated literally as “more than that,” means “further beyond” in English. It is a metaphor for risk-taking and striving for excellence, and it is a reversal of the phrase non-plus ultra (“Nothing further beyond”), which was said to have been inscribed as a warning on the Pillars of Hercules at the Strait of Gibraltar (which marked the edge of the known world in antiquity).
Christ Church Exmouth (England) celebrated its 125th anniversary last year. It was constructed during a period of significant turmoil in the Church of England. It became part of the Reformed Episcopal Church of the United Kingdom in 1896. It grew to 400 communicant members, representing around 5% of Exmouth’s population at the time. Today, Exmouth has fewer than 38,000 people.
Christ Church left its denomination over two years ago on grounds of conscience. It was once again a turbulent period. However, it was not the end of the story. Christ Church Exmouth has almost doubled its ASA since its minister, Bishop Josep Rossello, was chosen to lead the church in November 2018. He moved from Brazil to England in March 2019.
Being a Glocal church means serving the Lord locally while also being involved globally. Such is the vision of Christ Church Exmouth. Last year, Bishop Josep travelled to Ukraine on two occasions. In partnership with other local churches, they raised over £6,000 in humanitarian aid and travelled to encourage and support Ukrainian pastors. Now, they are getting ready to organise a three-day conference for over 100 Ukrainian pastors that should take place in October. During the same trip, they will be organising a teaching on church planting and discipleship in Budapest.
However, it is not only about humanitarian aid. The mission encourages Christians to make disciples of all nations. For that reason, Christ Church sent a couple to Spain last year. Simon and his wife, Sue, moved to Calpe (Spain) with the aim of starting a new international church plant in partnership with a local Spanish church. They have already begun to gather people and disciple them. It is the first step of a more ambitious plan to start church planting in southwest England and Europe.
It is easier to focus globally and forget the local mission. Even though there are fewer than 4% of Christians in Exmouth. It has not been the case with Christ Church Exmouth. They have seen an increase in conversions, from none to six people last year and five so far this year. There is a strategic plan in place to disciple those who come to the Lord, both one-to-one and in small groups. They have partnered with other organisations to make sure that all the needs are met.
The greatest miracle has been seen in a local church that was seriously in debt and without vision in 2018, moving from maintenance to glocal missions and seeing God’s provision and flavour flow over a small community of faithful believers. For this reason, “further beyond” is a reminder that when people can’t see beyond a certain point, it is possible to go further beyond, taking risks and striving for excellence. It should not be a surprise that their new vision is to establish an army of 600 disciples by 2028. Bishop Josep comments that “we have decided to believe God’s calling and not to look at the circumstances around us. It is too easy to be distracted by all the negative stories and church politics; however, the mission calls us to focus on making disciples and advancing God’s kingdom in this generation.”