An Uncommon Partnership


-Edwin Copeland- Church United Director

For Church United, connect, collaborate and celebrate are more than just taglines. They serve as the framework for spreading faith, hope and love throughout South Florida. We believe that as pastors and ministry leaders connect together and link arms for the sake of God’s kingdom, collaboration becomes a reflex rather than a forced activity. As deeper friendships are formed and trust is built, we believe that stories like the one below will become more and more commonplace.


Brian Burkholder, Lead Pastor, Hollywood Community Church:

Hollywood Community church has had a Christian school on our campus for 58 years. We have graduates ministering around the globe who are being used in a variety of different ways, and we are so proud of everything God has been able to accomplish through them and through the ministry of Hollywood Christian School. Over this time we feel like we’ve been able to do a great job on the spiritual and academic side of things, but if we’re honest it’s been a continual struggle to maintain the financial side of running a Christian school. We’ve had good years and we’ve had bad years, and while we’ve been committed to having a flourishing Christian school on our campus it’s been a challenge to figure out how to make it financially solvent.

We came to a place where we as a leadership team – our elders, school leadership and key decision makers – had to make a decision. We sat down and began to explore all kinds of options regarding the future of our school. We knew we were bleeding and had to do something to survive. Through Church United we had some incredible people come alongside us to help us explore these options with a unified goal of seeing a vibrant Christian school in Hollywood continue well into the next season. We knew we didn’t want to close the school; we knew we didn’t want a charter school, but we had no idea just what God was up to. Along the way, someone suggested that we sit down and talk with Doug Sauder, the lead pastor of Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, and Jason Rachels, the Headmaster of Calvary Christian Academy. We began to explore a crazy idea: what would it look like for Calvary Christian Academy to come and put a campus at Hollywood Community Church. As we began to pray and further investigate this idea, God made it really clear to us that this was the way forward.

partnershipI’m excited to announce that as of July 1, 2019, Calvary Christian Academy will take over running our school. And here’s the cool thing — this isn’t a takeover or a merger, but a gospel partnership. Philippians 1:6 talks about how we as Christians have a partnership in the gospel, and that’s exactly what this is. Hollywood Community Church is going to have ownership of the spiritual components of the school, and Calvary Christian Academy is going to run the educational side. Together in this partnership we’re going to keep a Christian school open in Hollywood, Florida!


Doug Sauder, Lead Pastor, Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale:

When we started this journey of Church United, we never wanted to gather just for “kumbaya” moments. From the very beginning this was about bringing God’s people, his Church, together for the sake of mission. Over the years we’ve watched the continual closing of a number of Christian schools in our region. As the pastors of Church United, we had to ask the question:  “How do we stop this? How do we not give up any more ground? How do we create gospel partnerships that take the best elements of what we bring to the table and forge them together for the sake of God’s kingdom?”

Uncommon partnerships

If we’re all part of an ecosystem here in South Florida as Christians, there isn’t space for egos and logos. This was only reinforced to me as Brian Burkholder and I got to share some time together and become friends through Church United. We realized we were stronger together. Little did we know that God was creating the environment for an uncommon partnership. The level of love and respect we’ve come to have for Brian, his pastoral team and the leadership of Hollywood Christian School continued to grow and grow, and we both didn’t want to give up any more ground here in Broward County. Brian had strengths in some areas where we were weak, and we had strengths in the areas he was weak. However, through connecting and collaborating together, we believe we are gaining ground for God’s kingdom – not losing it. We hope this story is only the beginning and will serve as a catalyst for more unlikely partnerships. In God’s ecosystem we are all on the same team, and while we may have different numbers we are all wearing the same jersey.

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