By Bekah Rhea
It is all too easy to forget that even in popular tourism spots, life is still proceeding as usual.
Schools are still in session, elections still happen, and people of faith are still seeking places to worship. It may be more difficult to spot steeples among the gift shops, amusement parks, and copious billboards, but for many people, that is the landscape of home.
According to US Census Data, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is home to almost 34,000 people—a 25% increase over the past decade. Rev. Pam Muise, senior pastor of Remnants Church, is one of those Myrtle Beach natives.
Muise sensed a call to ministry as early as age 16. In addition to holding a music degree from Coastal Carolina University, she is an alumna of Southern Seminary in Kentucky and was ordained in a Cooperative Baptist Fellowship church. Early in her ministry she spent years working within the Methodist tradition as the Baptist community was undergoing great conflict and change.
After 10 years away from CBF, Muise was encouraged by a trip to the General Assembly. It was there that she noticed positive change and familiar faces that truly made her feel like she had “come home.” Her confidence in herself and in the Baptist tradition was renewed. Muise was commissioned as a CBF church starter in 2019, and began Remnants Church on January 18th of that year.
Muise said she “always wanted to start a church.” Admittedly, she didn’t imagine it would be in Myrtle Beach that this vision would come to fruition. But it turns out that her familiarity and trust level with the locals is an important part of what invigorates her ministry. Remnants Church attracts a wide range of diverse folks, so much so that they are beginning to outgrow their current meeting place—a local wedding chapel.
Being located in a tourist destination means that church attendance may fluctuate with the seasons. But destination weddings are popular almost year-round. Like many church starters, Muise understands the necessity of being bi-vocational as a minister in the 21st century.
Before becoming senior pastor at Remnants, she was already an officiant at a local wedding chapel. Now, Remnants rents that building as their church space. Muise said it was an obvious choice that provides an advantage not common to newer contemporary church starts—worshiping in a space that “looks like church.”
Muise still works as a wedding officiant and estimates that she conducts 250-300 weddings a year. She is grateful that since her church is still in its early stages, there is flexibility in her schedule to do so, even as a lead pastor.
Muise emphasized that the bi-vocational nature of her work would not be possible without the support of her congregation. In fact, she described her favorite part of church starting as the congregants, who “love people and love Jesus fiercely.” She considers them partners with her in church starting, who continue to inspire her in the ways that they go above and beyond to help the church grow and thrive. For example, church members recently started a men’s fellowship group all of their own volition. Muise says their initiative demonstrates that the church is “our call, just as it is mine.”
Remnants also engages in outreach throughout the Myrtle Beach community, including partnering with the Coastline Women’s Center and Eastern Carolina Homelessness Organization. When asked her thoughts regarding a common criticism of starting new churches when so many churches are dying, Muise agreed that both planting and cultivating are needed. She described church starting by contrasting it with the buying of a used car. Agreeing to pastor an existing church, especially a well-established one, involves “inheriting someone else’s issues” that may take time to heal and repair. She found that church starting provides the freedom to re-envision what could be, especially for women and other minorities in ministry seeking to “cast the vision God has given them.”
Myrtle Beach may be a vacation spot for some and a wedding locale for others; but Muise and her congregation are wholly invested in their community, tourists and all. Much like the weddings that share their space, Remnants is a testimony to God’s fierce and enduring love.
Pam Muise is one of many CBF church starters casting their vision nationally and beyond. You can find out more about Remnants Church on their website.
If you’re inspired by Muise and believe that church starting could be part of your vocation, consider applying to one of CBF’s Discernment Cohorts.