Michael Gehrling will serve northeast region new church initiatives
by Gregg Brekke | Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE – The Rev. Michael Gehrling has been hired as Northeast Region Associate for the 1001 New Worshiping Communities initiative of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) He begins his service August 6 by traveling to the “Living, Dying, Rising” annual 1001 New Worshiping Communities gathering in St. Pete Beach, Florida.
“I am excited to welcome Mike to our 1001 staff,” says Ray G. Jones III, Associate Director for Evangelism. “He brings with him a passion for connecting church and culture, a commitment to starting new worshiping communities and a heart for discipleship.”
In his role Gehrling will be the primary contact person between the 1001 initiative and new worshiping communities, congregations and mid-councils in the northeast. He will help new communities get started and be in conversation with presbyteries and congregations on how they can offer financial, material and spiritual support to these new efforts.
Additionally, Gehrling will be in charge on the New Worshiping Communities programmatic area for assessments. Through this three-and-a-half day process, prospective candidates are invited to discern their calling to missional leadership, and exploring the gifts and challenges they bring to potential communities.
“I am delighted to have the opportunity of working with Michael,” says Vera Karn White, Coordinator for 1001 New Worshiping Communities. “He is a person with such inspiring spiritual practices that will surely shape the whole 1001 movement in the future. As co-pastor of the Upper Room in Pittsburgh, Michael understands the challenges and joy of starting a new worshiping community. He will be a great companion on the journey for the NWC leaders in the northeast region of the country.”
White says although the northeast region is the smallest geographic area it has most new worshiping communities because of population density and the presence of several PC(USA) seminaries. One of the challenges for Gehrling, she says, will be establishing relationships with such a large number of new worshiping communities.
“The New England area is one of the least churched areas of our country and doesn’t have a big Presbyterian presence,” White says. “There’s great potential in New York City and other large metro areas. I also see a lot of potential for new immigrant communities. Michael’s gifts are suited to casting the vision [for this] and helping presbyteries be more available and responsive to new worshiping communities.”
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