Denver Presbytery finds inspiration from new ministries like A Stoked Life
by Beth Waltemath | Presbyterian News Service
“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.
After hearing over and over, “I find God in the mountains,” the Heimers said, “Why don’t we go to them?” In 2020, the Heimers bought Surf’SUP Colorado, a local board rental shop that had launched in 2011 out of a small trailer with just 12 stand-up paddleboards or “SUPs.” Out of their cozy storefront in Morrison, Colorado, the Heimers rent equipment, foster community and run the programs of A Stoked Life. There are group tours of local lakes and reservoirs in the summer as well as individual instruction. Mindy Heimer teaches yoga for paddlers on Mondays at the shop and Holy Yoga on Fridays at First Presbyterian Church of Golden, Colorado. Holy Yoga is “Christ-centered,” where practitioners “learn and live a life’s journey of inspiration, fellowship and spirituality.” A Stoked Life markets a 200-hour teacher training for Holy Yoga.
The Heimers’ approach as small business owners and spiritual leaders is based on building strong relationships and sharing their love of Creation and the Creator with others. Prior to starting this new worshiping community, the Heimers had each served in youth ministries where authentic relationships were key to building trust and faith. Their website features a blog where the practical meets the spiritual. In a post called “Why do you paddle?” they wrote a kind of credo with allusions to biblical concepts: “We paddle because it’s relaxing. It’s a way to find stillness in our busy world. We paddle to find peace — the kind of peace that is bigger than anything we can understand. We paddle because it’s life-giving, not taking. We paddle because it’s a way to reconnect with Creation and the Creator. We paddle because we belong and it’s a place where you belong, too.”
“They have a passion,” said the Rev. Fernando Rodríguez, associate presbyter for Mission of the Denver Presbytery, “and it is a way of connecting community, God and nature.”
“Denver Presbytery has invested themselves in the whole new worshiping community, 1001 approach and understanding for ministry,” said the Rev. Dr. Dee Cooper, lead presbyter. “We really hold this value that this is a new expression of faith in God’s world.” 1001 New Worshiping Communities partners with presbyteries like Denver through its 1001 Pathways to Flourishing program to foster “ecosystems of innovation that allow new ministries to get their footing and thrive.”
Cooper credits the embrace of an ethos of innovation with having a “radical impact” and inspiring congregational leaders over “new ways of being church.”
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