Six new worshiping communities receive Mission Program Grants



Diverse ministries provide spaces of welcome for people to explore their faith while serving their communities

by Paul Seebeck | Presbyterian News Service

The Rev. Michael Miller of Chicago’s NEXT Ministries during online worship Sunday. (Screen shot)

LOUISVILLE — On behalf of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, the Mission Development Resources Committee has approved  Mission Program Grants to six 1001 New Worshiping Communities. The ‘1001’ communities receiving grants are listed below, followed by the presbytery and synod they belong to, along with a brief description of their mission and ministry.

One $25,000 Investment Grant

NEXT Ministries (Presbytery of Chicago, Synod of Lincoln Trails) serves people who while interested in worship really want a church that is invested in their lives and is actively engaged in doing good in their communities. NEXT has developed a partnership with Chicago Public Schools to bring its Better Life Program to 70 parents in the three schools it serves. NEXT is also in partnership with a citywide organization called Together Chicago whose vision, according to its website, is “to renew Chicago together with churches, businesses, community leaders and government officials to provide hope within the communities we serve.” Multiple Chicago area churches have provided volunteers and funding to help spread the word about NEXT, while McCormick Theological Seminary has provided space for business and planning meetings. Near the end of last year at a NEXT community gathering, 30 of the 43 families attending were new.

Five $7,500 Seed Grants

Emerge (Tampa Bay Presbytery, Synod of South Atlantic) in Port Richey, Florida, is intentionally building relationships with persons who have been hurt by the church and are not interested in traditional religious affiliation. Emerge believes as people are restored in relationships and by doing good in their broader community, they will come to know Jesus on God’s terms rather than on an established church’s terms.  Once a person decides to follow Jesus, Emerge introduces them to study, prayer, and worship — along with mentoring and teaching.

Feast Collective celebrates the food and culture of the immigrant refugee community at Feast World Kitchen in Spokane, Washington. (Contributed photo)

Feast Collective/Feast World Kitchen  (Inland Northwest Presbytery, Synod of Alaska-Northwest) supports the immigrant refugee community in Spokane, Washington, by serving and cooking food for the entire community to enjoy. Through this experience around a sacred table, Feast has made strong connections with the community, partner congregations and the presbytery. One of Feast’s partners, First Presbyterian Church of Spokane, recently purchased an old restaurant building across from their church, so that Feast now has a new home with a commercial kitchen. Many in the immigrant/refugee community who come to Spokane are Christian or Muslim. By celebrating their food and culture, Feast believes culturally sensitive ways can be found to show and share the love of Christ as they work together in creating a space where all feel welcome.

The HUB (Eastminster Presbytery, Synod of the Covenant) in Columbiana, Ohio, started when First Presbyterian Church in Columbiana began offering classes in spirituality and life skills. To their surprise, while some church members came, many more attendees were neighbors who were looking for something new and different. The HUB now offers retreats, seminars and contemplative worship experiences for people seeking to deepen their spiritual understanding of their relationship with God, but not in a traditional church setting. The Mid-Week Pause, a weekly contemplative 20-minute prayer service, has more than doubled its attendance since moving online during the pandemic.

iChurch (San Jose Presbytery, Synod of the Pacific)  partnered with Covenant Presbyterian Church in Palo Alto, California, to engage the Silicon Valley “gospel” values of technology, money, and success with the gospel of Jesus — through making films about spiritual values. In a year, its YouTube channel,  iTV.SilconValley, has produced more than 80 videos, each garnering up to 400 views. The channel has nearly 450 subscribers — and up to 20 people now worship together at iChurch.

Since launching Ukirk SMU (Grace Presbytery, Synod of the Sun) in August 2019, this campus ministry at Southern Methodist University has developed a strong group of student leaders along with significant church partnerships. UKirk SMU provides safe and inclusive space for students to explore their faith while belonging to an intentional community where deep relationships are built. Despite initial concerns that COVID-19 might end the ministry, it has been strengthened by its move to an all-online experience.

Mission Program Grants are made available through the Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. The grants support the transforming work of new worshiping communities and mid councils.

In 2012, the 220th General Assembly of the PC(USA) declared a commitment to a churchwide movement resulting in the creation of 1001 worshiping communities over the next 10 years.

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