Coronavirus/COVID-19 Resources for Congregations and Members

Vital Congregations gathering postponed

Ministry office looking to reschedule the April event in August

by Paul Seebeck | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — Both the 2020 Vital Congregations facilitator training and national gathering in Austin, scheduled for April 24-30, have been postponed. The Office of Vital Congregations in the Presbyterian Mission Agency is looking at the possibility of rescheduling the event in August 2020.

Even though she is “truly sad,” Vital Congregations coordinator the Rev. Dr. Kathryn Threadgill said she knows this is the right and necessary decision for all participants involved, in the midst of the unfolding coronavirus pandemic.

“In these times of uncertainty, we are watching carefully the situation in our presbyteries, throughout the country and world,” she said, “and praying for all of God’s people as we discern paths of vitality moving forward for the church.”

Threadgill is in conversation with vendors and partners in Austin to try to work out dates for rescheduling the event as quickly as possible so that participants can make plans to gather in person.

In the meantime, Threadgill is encouraging presbyteries to creatively move forward with their churches through the Vital Congregations initiative. The office is available via Zoom and will be looking for creative ways to connect and move forward with presbyteries and churches through the VC initiative.  More information about rescheduling of gathering and other pertinent ministry information is on the Vital Congregations’ Facebook page.

Seventeen presbyteries have been — or are completing — the two-year revitalization process, which helps churches increase vitality by going through intentional spiritual practices that take them deeper into following Jesus Christ.  Twelve additional presbyteries were going to receive facilitator training April 24-27, followed by the gathering for all who finished, are going through, or interested in the two-year revitalization initiative.

“Being a vital congregation today is going to take a lot of prayer discernment and creativity in the Sprit’s power,” said Threadgill. We look forward to the opportunity to gather” later in the year, “as we strive to be Christ’s vital body in the world.”

The Office of Vital Congregations is part of PC(USA)’s Theology, Formation & Evangelism ministry. TFE director, the Rev. Dr.  Ray Jones III, said now more than ever the world needs vital congregations.  Even though he was looking forward to the face-to-face gathering in April, he’s excited the gathering will occur later in the year.

“Now and then we want to encourage congregations to think creatively around the seven marks of vital congregations,” he said.  “It will help us be the church in these uncertain times. People both outside and inside the church need us. We can’t stop being the church.”

  Here are links to stories highlighting the ways God is using the VC initiative in presbyteries and churches around the country who have gone through, are finishing up, or are about to be trained in the revitalization process.

South Carolina church grateful for gift of VC initiative 

Thirty-one congregations in New York City prepare for VC initiative

Vital Congregations initiative helps Bay Area church talk about faith

Reclaiming evangelism in Bible belt 

Vital Congregations pilot initiative impacts churches in Trinity Presbytery

Three presbyteries finishing up VC initiative

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