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Seminary Alum Leads Church Planting for Converge MidAmerica

Danny Parmelee preaches at epikos Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he was lead pastor from 2004 to March 2017.

“For the Apostle Paul, his leaving [Ephesus] was out of obedience to Christ,” Danny Parmelee S’04 says in a sermon announcing his resignation from epikos Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. “As I transition out of my role as lead pastor of epikos, I’m confident that the same God who started and grew epikos will continue to empower this church to do amazing things.”

The news that Parmelee—who moved to Milwaukee to plant epikos immediately after graduating from Bethel Seminary in 2004—was leaving the multi-site church stirred a variety of feelings in congregants. Parmelee, too, had an emotional response during the announcement. But he says he felt God calling him—as he called Paul—to leave his congregation and take on a new role.

As the vice president of church planting for Converge MidAmerica—a subset of Converge Worldwide—Parmelee says he will be able to use his talents and experiences to further the missional work of the kingdom. “I’m really excited about Danny joining our team,” Gary Rohrmayer, president and executive minister of Converge MidAmerica, says in a press release. “He brings a catalytic energy [that will] take our church planting efforts to new levels of expansion.”

It won’t be the first time Parmelee has joined forces with Converge—nor even the first time he’s led church planting for a Converge district. Parmelee first became involved with the denomination as a college student at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. “The Lord radically rescued me from a life of drinking, drugs, and self-indulgence,” he says. Soon after coming to Christ, Parmelee got plugged into a local church where the lead pastor was involved in church planting with Converge.

A few years later, Parmelee once again partnered with Converge—this time as a church planter. From 2004 to 2005 he and his team launched the first epikos campus. “The vision in launching epikos was very simple. Be a church that is relentless about reaching the lost,” Parmelee says. That vision, paired with epikos’ commitment to “tackle even the sensitive and hot button issues of our day head on,” resonated with the Milwaukee metro. epikos grew to become a three-site, multicultural campus by 2016—working to unite the “second most segregated city” in the U.S.

“We have [diverse groups] of people meeting in small groups in both million-dollar condos and the urban core,” Parmelee says. “Multiculturalism is more than just worshiping standing next to someone from a different culture…it’s actually engaging in life together.”

While Parmelee made progress on his own church plants, he also assisted with another Converge church plant by functioning as a church planting coach. In addition to these undertakings, his passions prompted him to work part time as the director of church planting for the Converge Great Lakes district. “This has been a journey for me,” says Parmelee. “[In my new role] I want to help identify the passion, calling, and gifts of others and empower them to serve God to their highest capacity.”

Bethel Seminary has been affiliated with Converge since 1914, when the denomination was still known as the Baptist General Conference. Parmelee says he is excited about the opportunities his position at Converge MidAmerica affords him to partner with Bethel—particularly by promoting the seminary’s new Church Planting Certificate to aspiring church planters. “We [Converge MidAmerica] hope to have a strong partnership in this new—and I’d say groundbreaking—innovation,” he says, explaining that the certificate will be an excellent way to equip church planters who aren’t interested in a full ministry degree.

While Parmelee acknowledges that formal education isn’t right for everyone, he says much of his church planting success—and particularly his passion for planting multicultural campuses and fostering racial reconciliation—resulted from his time in Bethel’s Master of Divinity program. “I came to Bethel already with a heart and call to church planting,” Parmalee says. “I went specifically to Bethel to best equip myself for that call. Seminary may not be for everyone, but I can say that in my life it was critical to preparing me [for ministry].” 

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