A Fresh Vision
In 1998, Homestead Heights was without a senior pastor and called Dr. Keith Eitel, then head of the missions department at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, to be the interim pastor. Under Dr. Eitel’s leadership, the church was challenged to renew their vision for reaching the world and to put their “yes” on the table as their commitment to do whatever God called them to do.
Prayer and fasting were emphasized again. People were reminded of God’s heart for reaching the nations for Jesus—especially unreached people groups. The church was coming back to the mission it was founded on, and there were big signs of revitalization. God was posturing the church for what was to come.
In December 2001 the church voted to call as the new lead pastor J.D. Greear, who at the time had been serving as the college pastor. Pastor J.D. immediately cast a vision for the church to engage the Raleigh/Durham (RDU) area with the gospel. Homestead Heights was re-launched as The Summit Church. With a new identity, it was time for a new beginning. Worship attendance at the time was about 300, but a goal was set to have 1,000 in worship the next Easter. The members came together in a show of unified energy and focus unlike anything anyone remembered seeing before. On Easter Sunday, more than 1,100 people experienced worship at the Summit.
Within the next two years, it became clear that God had even bigger plans. By the fall of 2002, The Summit Church had college students showing up for the first time. This was a huge answer to prayer as the church recognized that the nations were actually coming to them in the form of college students. They understood that if they could reach a student, they could also reach the city, state, or country that the student would return to.
Soon, the Summit outgrew its facility and began to look for a new location. In a great act of faith, the church sold the property it had owned since the early 1960s and began meeting at Riverside High School. A spirit of excitement and anticipation prevailed. New people came to faith and were committed to the church’s mission to reach people with the gospel. In the summer of 2005, the church launched its first week of ServeRDU (then called Week of Hope), which quickly turned into a movement. Since then, hundreds of thousands of dollars and thousands of hours of service have been given year-round to the schools, prisons, shelters, and community ministries of the city.