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No longer alone

With help from ‘1001’ leaders, ecumenical church planters hold a Zoom conference to celebrate their work and share levity at end of difficult year

by Paul Seebeck | Presbyterian News Service

Ecumenical leaders from six denominations celebrated their work and lots of laughter during their inaugural Founders’ Festival gathering via Zoom earlier this month. (Screen shot)

LOUISVILLE —  Ecumenical Partners in Outreach, a network of mainline denominational leaders engaged in church planting and revitalization, hosted its first ever “Founders’ Festival” via Zoom in early December.

The gathering, which included participants from the six mainline denominations listed below, was held to celebrate the work of each denomination’s new worshiping community leaders and to provide some levity at the end of 2020.

Participants included:

  • Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
  • United Church of Christ
  • Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
  • The United Methodist Church
  • The United Church of Canada
  • The Presbyterian Church in Canada

According to the Rev. Nikki Collins, national coordinator of the PC(USA)’s 1001 New Worshiping Communities, participants played a series of games designed to keep them on their toes as they interacted with one another through improbable scenarios. Breakout rooms were utilized to create teams for scavenger hunts and escape rooms —along with the poll feature for rapid-fire audience participation games.

The Rev. Nikki Collins is national leader of the 1001 New Worshiping Communities movement.

“The joy of being known and the chance to step away from all that has happened in 2020 to simply laugh was priceless,” Collins said. “Also Shawn Kang’s (1001 associate for the Central and Western Regions) funny Zoom filters kept everyone laughing.”

Other ecumenical partner church planting leaders like the Rev. Terrell L. McTyer of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Rev. Dr. Chris Davies of the United Church of Christ and the Rev. Rachel Gilmore of the United Methodist Church couldn’t remember having more fun in a Zoom meeting.

“This was the most welcoming and engaging Zoom party I’ve ever attended,” Gilmore said.

“It was an honor to appreciate the hard work of church planters in a very fun way,” said McTyer.

“And to goof off with them in an ecumenical way!” Davies added.

Some 90 church planters participated in the inaugural Founders’ Festival. By the end of the evening, these women and men who have so much in common found new colleagues — and co-conspirators in the sharing of the gospel.

“The event was a success,” Collins said, “because many had come feeling alone in their contexts. But they left knowing that every other face on the screen understood what their lives and work are all about.”

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