New church launches services in Montevallo

Published 10:44 am Tuesday, February 12, 2019


MONTEVALLO – Luke Camara and his wife, Shana, had been in the Christian ministry together for nearly a decade when they felt the need to re-evaluate their focus. In 12 years, they had served at a Birmingham church and tried to start a new church that, in Luke’s words, taught them many lessons, but “utterly failed.”

“We took a step back and said we can’t just focus on growing a church; we need to focus on making disciples,” Luke said. “That’s what Jesus commanded us to do in Matthew 28.”

Luke, the son of a retired pastor, grew up going to church and was saved at an early age.

He earned a degree in pastoral ministry from Nyack College in New York, and on June 2, 2002, one day before his and Shana’s first anniversary, they moved to Shelby County. What had started as a spiritual nudge for them to reassess their path in ministry several years ago became a project to plant a church, Shelby Church Communities, as part of a larger family of believers called The Christian and Missionary Alliance.

“Through that, we started to build a foundation for our ministry, our church,” Luke said. “We started with Missional Communities – those larger, extended spiritual families – and started doing discipleship groups.”

As lead pastor of SCC, Luke also was tasked with finding other leaders who would connect with his and Shana’s vision and join the church planting project. He met Levi and Megan Owens at an Alliance conference in Atlanta in spring 2016, and talked to them about the plans for SCC.

“He shared his vision for discipleship with us, and it was exactly what we were looking for,” Levi Owens said.

When he realized they were genuinely interested, Luke made his move. “I boldly said, ‘Why don’t you guys move down here? I promise I’ll disciple you and show you how to make disciples,’” Luke said. “The emphasis of discipleship struck a nerve with them.”

A week later, Levi and Megan accepted Luke’s offer during a FaceTime conversation, and moved from upstate New York to Shelby County in August 2016. “Since then, we’ve been learning and doing discipleship in groups that meet in our homes,” Levi says. “We’ve also been working with Luke toward the public launch of the church.”

Luke describes the structure of SCC as a three-legged stool: One leg is Missional Communities, one leg is discipleship groups and one leg is public worship.

The launch of SCC’s public worship services – the final part of the original church planting plan – took place on Feb. 3 in the Montevallo Elementary School lunchroom.

In the process of praying for direction, Luke said Shana was overcome with what he calls “holy tears” in the car one morning.

“The Lord just spoke to her and said Montevallo,” he said. “The Lord wants us to reach Montevallo. It took us a while to make good connections and not rush anything, but the Lord has been really good and faithful in getting us into the community in a way we never would have imagined. We met at homes, at other churches and different venues. None of them were in Montevallo, which is where the Lord called us to be.”

According to Luke, there had not been a church planted in Montevallo in nearly a decade before SCC launched.

He describes the SCC church services as “accessible, not necessarily attractional.” While adults worship in the lunchroom, children in 4K through second grade can go to their own class. Nursery is also available throughout the whole service for newborns and toddlers up to 3 years old.

“As a church, we want to be a blessing to the community and a place where everyone is welcome,” Levi said. “Our worship services are a great place to meet people, and we hope that through those connections people will see the value of a deeper discipleship journey.”

For Luke, Shana, their four children and the rest of the SCC team, the launch is the culmination of years of prayer, work and faith that they are being obedient to what they say God has called them to do.

“It feels like a celebration, but it also feels like the beginning of something more,” Luke says. “We just invite people into (our) family. I would encourage everyone that does not have a church family to find one, to be a part of it, because that’s when you really grow as a follower of Jesus.”

Shelby Church Communities meets on Sundays at 10 a.m. at Montevallo Elementary School, located at 171 Jeter Circle in Montevallo. For more information about the church, visit or @myshelbychurch on Facebook.