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Technology has the power to connect people, but only when it is working and is scaled for growing with a community.
“I like to refer to us as church adjacent,” said Gina Brown, founder of the new worshiping community The Faith Studio, describing how people respond when she outlines the three tenets of the community as “connect, inspire and explore.”
During the pandemic, the Rev. Bethany Peerbolte was making phone calls to members of the youth group she led as a way of checking in while remaining socially distant. The youth started using terms like “lukewarm Christian,” which struck Peerbolte as “not very Presbyterian,” so she started searching online for their source.
“People are looking for meaning in their lives,” said Nathan Heimer, who with his wife, Mindy, have found more success opening up deep conversations on a paddleboard, in a yoga class or in a coffee shop instead of a traditional church. That’s why the Heimers, started a paddleboard ministry named A Stoked Life in Colorado rather than waiting for people who have grown up in secular households or who have been hurt by the church to walk through a sanctuary door looking for a good sermon. They see themselves as a bridge between nature-lovers and communities that seek to be God’s love in the world.
“It’s no secret that communities built from scratch have the upper hand when it comes to innovation,” announced the Rev. Sara Hayden to open a new series of the New Way podcast discussing innovation and technology in new worshiping communities.
“This might be our most radical podcast episode,” says the Sara Hayden, host of the “New Way” podcast, a production of 1001 New Worshiping Communities that was started in 2019. During episodes 9 and 10 of the newest season, Hayden talks with the Rev. Jess Cook, founder of Every Table, a new worshiping community in Richmond, Virginia, about meditation, cannabis, embodiment and the real gift that “trans folk have to offer the church” in breaking open the cracks that empire, capitalism and white supremacy have inflicted on the institutional church to heal the diverse and beautiful bodies within the Body of Christ.
Record high temperatures in July didn’t deter thousands of spiritual pilgrims from gathering in the western North Carolina mountains for four days of inspiring worship, book talks, panels, music and dancing — lots of dancing.
Through a collaboration between Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and 1001 New Worshiping Communities, church planters and spiritual leaders visited Puerto Rico in June to learn about ongoing efforts to rebuild after hurricane disasters. 1001 New Worshiping Communities leaders recognized many commonalities with pastors in Puerto Rico, including the necessity of bivocational calls and a need for community engagement and the work of healing and relief.
The pastor of Broad Street Presbyterian Church in Columbus, Ohio, has for the past 15 years led a church “with a collection of folks who share a commitment to serve the city and figure out together what it means to follow Jesus in this particular time and place. My favorite part of Broad Street are the people who find their way there. They’re just a remarkable collection of people who are willing to share their energy, their commitment, and put all of who they are in service to being in community and figuring out what it means to follow Jesus.”
Kin-dom Camp is set to be held in Texas later this month, and no one is more excited than the camp’s co-founder, the Rev. Pepa Paniagua, the guest during the most recent installments of the 1001 New Worshiping Communities podcast “New Way.” Listen to Paniagua’s conversation with podcast host the Rev. Sara Hayden here and here.