National launch set for 224th General Assembly in Baltimore in 2020
by Paul Seebeck | Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE — Fourteen Presbyteries were selected this week to be part of the first wave of a national launch of the Vital Congregations Revitalization Initiative in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) — which is designed to help their churches live more faithfully as disciples of Jesus Christ.
According to the Vital Congregations Revitalization Initiative manual, the initiative is a two-year covenant relationship between presbyteries and the PC(USA) “to prayerfully walk with pastors and existing congregations in intentional efforts of revitalization.” The first year builds “authentic relationships of faith” during which churches “embark on an honest assessment, capturing their unique stories, confessing their realities and discerning the Spirit’s call to action.” Year 2 is about “joining Christ in the new thing taking place, allowing the wonder of God to transform and faithfully living into change.”
Earlier this week, Presbyterian Mission Agency Vital Congregations Associate Kathryn Threadgill notified each presbytery listed below of its selection.
- Cascades, Portland, Ore.
- Eastminster, Akron, Ohio
- Genesee Valley, Rochester, N.Y.
- Lake Michigan, Portage (Kalamazoo), Mich.
- Mackinac, Petoskey, Mich.
- Mission, San Antonio
- New Covenant, Houston
- New Harmony, Florence, S.C.
- Northwest Coast, Everett, Wash.
- New York City
- Olympia, Tacoma, Wash.
- Riverside, San Bernardino, Calif.
- West Jersey, Haddon Heights, N.J.
- Western Reserve, Cleveland
“During our conversations you could feel the Holy Spirit at work,” Threadgill said. “There was a sense of joy, but also an understanding that now is the time to go to work.”
As part their preparation work, presbyteries will meet in East and West Coast gatherings in Denver and Atlanta in May featuring preaching and teaching from Columbia Theological Seminary’s Dr. Anna Carter Florence and Dr. William P. Brown — with worship led by Presbyterian Mission Agency’s worship associate Rev. Dr. David Gambrell.
The selected presbyteries will also receive training for Vital Congregations facilitators in Baltimore following Big Tent, which is set for Aug. 1-3.
The revitalization initiative focuses on 7 marks of congregational vitality. Presbyteries and churches assess how they’re living into these roles: lifelong discipleship formation; intentional, authentic evangelism; outward incarnational focus; empower servant leadership; spirit-inspired worship; caring relationships; and ecclesial health.
Each presbytery has been assigned two liaisons, which include members from the PC(USA) Vital Congregations team — made up of Office of General Assembly and PMA staff — and the people who helped write the Vital Congregations material.
“We’re excited to hear the presbyteries’ hopes of wanting to help their churches,” says Threadgill. “It’s exciting and humbling to be at place where we can enter into relationship with them to do this revitalization work together.”
The Office of Vital Congregations is part of the PC(USA)’s Theology, Formation and Evangelism ministry. To download a basic information packet for presbyteries interested in going through the Vital Congregations Initiative revitalization process, click here.
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Categories: Congregational Vitality
Tags: 7 marks of congregational vitality, big tent 2019, Columbia Theological Seminary, office of the general assembly, office of vital congregations, presbyterian mission agency, theology formation and evangelism, vital congregations revitalization initiative
Ministries: Vital Congregations, Theology, Formation & Evangelism