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Twenty-one new worshiping communities, two presbyteries receive Mission Program Grants

Nearly $400,000 is given to begin or further establish ‘1001’ diverse communities and help with congregational transformation

by Paul Seebeck | Presbyterian News Service

Jazz Vespers held a special service around climate change online in September.  The Seattle-area ministry hosts monthly jazz gatherings. (Screen shot)

LOUISVILLE — On behalf of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, the Mission Development Resources Committee (MDRC) has approved Mission Program Grants to 21 new worshiping communities. The “1001” communities receiving grants are listed below, followed by the presbytery and synod they belong to and a brief description of their mission and ministry:

$7,500 Seed Grant recipients

  • Art Church (Heartland Presbytery, Synod of Mid-America) is led by Madison Parker, a 1001 new worshiping community resident at The Open Table in Kansas City. She plans to host a yearly art residency program primarily serving young artists — especially those who do not have access to art spaces or opportunities to display their talent.
  • Church at the Collection (Presbytery of Santa Barbara, Synod of Southern California & Hawaii) plans to start a new worshiping community in the Annex Food Hall in the Riverpark neighborhood of Oxnard, California. This self-contained planned community is walkable and bikeable for nearly 3,000 units of housing.

The Rev. Dr. Saundra J. Taulbee is lead pastor of Connections Community Church. (Screen shot)

  • Connections Community Church (Presbytery of Los Ranchos, Synod of Southern California & Hawaii) is a multicultural community reaching out to the unchurched and dechurched in Irvine, California, primarily through  podcasts that examine how culture and faith intersect and Alpha conversations where doubts and questions can be asked in a judgment-free environment.
  • Earthen Hands (National Capital Presbytery, Synod of Mid-Atlantic) has purchased an acre of farmland in Georgetown, Maryland. Having planted a community garden, they plan to use the garden as a gathering space to foster healing relationships and serve the wider community.
  • Faith Through Art (Presbytery of San Joaquin, Synod of the Pacific) is led by the April Alkema, an adjunct professor or religion at Fresno Pacific University and associate pastor at Woven Community. Faith Through Art has developed an online presence with Fresno, California’s artistic community and hopes to experiment with social-distanced outdoor gatherings in the future — where people can  process their personal experience of the pandemic through art.
  • Jazz Vespers (Northwest Coast Presbytery, Synod of Alaska-Northwest), led by Jean and Andrea Chaumont of Lake Forest Presbyterian Church in the Seattle area, draws more than 75 people for their theological/spiritual reflection and jazz monthly gatherings. Jean is a professional jazz musician, having played in France and the U.S. for more than 15 years. Andrea is associate pastor of Family Ministries at Lake Forest.  Watch a Jazz Vespers video service on climate change here.
  • Labyrinth Cafe (Presbytery of South Louisiana, Synod of the Sun) was built in 2018 as an ecumenical gathering place and community center — in response to a member of NOLA Wesley, the United Methodist campus ministry at Tulane and Loyola universities dying by suicide. After designating it as a UKirk ministry this year, the presbytery validated the ministry of the Rev. Zoe Garry and along with the synod revitalized the New Orleans campus ministry fund that had been dormant.
  • Oregon Fellowship at Covenant (Presbytery of the Cascades, Synod of the Pacific) began when five people came together to build relationships with young adults in Gresham, Oregon. In a joint venture with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and Covenant Presbyterian Church, the Fellowship plans to use this grant for a one-year renewable stipend based internship, and will accompany this emerging leader in developing a community of practice for the young, diverse population living In Oregon.
  • Parkville Living Center (Heartland Presbytery, Synod of Mid-America) is led by Marcus Flores in Parkville, Missouri. Discerning God’s call to be a community development leader, Flores is currently working with local schools to make an art wall which will be located in available space at his home church, Parkville Presbyterian. Flores has also been gathering stories from the churched, unchurched, the self-proclaimed non-religious, the marginalized and the under-represented, because this is where he sees opportunities for forming a new worshiping community.
  • Philadelphia Brazilian Church (Central Florida Presbytery, Synod of South Atlantic) has had the support of the First Presbyterian Church of Kissimmee for 15 years. But now the Brazilian Church has put together small groups in various parts of the city, and the gospel is spreading and reaching larger groups of people. This grant will help leader Hélio Pacheco and First Church further develop the faith of this immigrant community.

$25,000 Investment Grant recipients

  • City on a Hill (Eastern Korean, Northeast) began worshiping last year at True Light Church in Paramus, New Jersey. While True Light is a Korean-language church, it had an English ministry department which merged with Christ Community. Partner church True Light’s desire is for City on a Hill — which is intentionally inclusive — to become a chartered PC(USA) congregation sometime in the future with its own session.

Worship leaders prepare for their weekly evening gathering at The Common Room along with partner Harrison Square Presbyterian Church. (Contributed photo)

  • The Common Room (Olympia Presbytery, Synod of Alaska-Northwest) is the only Christian community serving more than 5,000 young adults (ages 19-29) in Centralia, Washington. The Common Room has weekly evening worship and theological discussions, and Friday afternoon club meetings at Centralia College. Partner church Harrison Square Presbyterian is providing teaching and support for this community of 45-75 young adults as it searches for a new leader.
  • Fuente de Gracia (Presbytery of San Joaquin, Synod of the Pacific) continues to build trust during the pandemic through partnerships with nonprofit organizations in Sanger, California, distributing food and other resources to families in need. At a Christmas event in 2019, 150 people attended and 15 publicly professed their faith.
  • Greenhorn Ministries (Presbytery of Pueblo, Synod of Rocky Mountains) pivoted to Zoom worship as soon as the coronavirus hit Pueblo, Colorado, in February 2020. That reach has extended as far west as Oregon and as far east as Kansas. Greenhorn’s ecumenical youth and women’s discipleship core groups continue to meet and grow online. Half the children who first came for Bible study were from at-risk homes.

kin-dom pastor the Rev. Pepa Paniagua (Photo by Kelly Rabalais)

  • kin-dom community (Grace Presbytery, Synod of the Sun) began as the Pepa Paniagua had conversations at a brewery in McKinney, Texas, where she lives. Alongside her work with the Gay and Lesbian Alliance in North Texas, she began to explore the deep need to discuss topics including spirituality, forgiveness, how to disagree and how to be better neighbors. During the pandemic Paniagua has partnered with Trinity Presbyterian Church and a local United Methodist Church congregation and is working on an ELCA partnership, as socially-distanced gatherings have just begun.
  • Spring Church (Northwest Coast Presbytery, Synod of Alaska-Northwest) reaches a diverse range of people, including those who are experiencing homelessness and those with disabilities. This NWC is supported by three PC(USA) congregations in Bellingham, Washington, and has numerous community partners to help Spring Church serve the growing community.

$25,000 Growth Grant recipients

  • Anchor Point Ecumenical (Central Florida Presbytery, Synod of South Atlantic) in Apopka, Florida partners with the The Lifeboat Project, which provides services to survivors of human trafficking in Central Florida. Anchor Point currently meets online for worship, but looks forward again to meeting on property provided by the presbytery, which sits on four acres with giant oak trees and a grassy field.

the worship team at El Shaddai Vision Church (Contributed photo)

  • El Shaddai Vision Church (Salem Presbytery, Synod of Mid-Atlantic) serves African refugees in the greater Greensboro, North Carolina, area. With a thriving youth and young adult ministry, El Shaddai has used technology and social media to continue to reach them and its 100 weekly worshipers, including many who came to the U.S. from war-torn countries and lived in refugee camps.
  • Great Lakes Korean (Presbytery of New Covenant, Synod of the Sun) hopes to become a chartered PC(USA) congregation in five years. Great Lakes continues to reach hundreds in the community through their Montessori academy and Korean school and tutoring outreach programs. They also broadcast their Sunday worship services for 30 adults and 20 children on YouTube. Viewership is increasing, with people joining in from around the world.
  • Okra Abbey (Presbytery of South Louisiana, Synod of Sun) community garden is on school grounds, which closed due to the pandemic, in the Pigeon Town neighborhood in New Orleans. As the Hannah Quick began to walk with people in the neighborhood, or by the garden, she became like a parish pastor —  present with them in their grief and losses. Quick also partnered with local congregations, and even got a PDA grant, to help Okra Abbey prepare meals to go or for delivery.
  • Refreshing Springs Ministry (Synod of Trinity) is the first NWC/African American Church in Beaver-Butler Presbytery, officially charted as PC(USA) congregation in 2018. Prior to the pandemic, Refreshing Springs averaged 20-30 people in worship — most under 25 years old. Facing economic challenges in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, many lacked access to Wi-Fi. Yet nearly half have found a way to participate in worship online with a partner congregation, Ohio United Presbyterian Church.

MDRC also approved two second-Year Presbytery Transformation Grants:

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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