New worshiping community helps women find healing in their brokenness
April 3, 2020
Willow Weston, the founder and director of a 1001 new worshiping community in Bellingham, Washington, remembers the day Collide began.
Someone who had wounded her when she was a young girl was knocking on her door. Immediately, she ran upstairs with her baby — and hid in the closet.
“I felt like the Lord was opening the door of that closet, and sitting in there with me and saying, ‘You have more healing that needs to be done in your life,’” she said.
When Weston stepped out of the closet, she made an appointment with a counselor and began to deal with years and years of pain — pain that she had yet to deal with.
Eventually that turned into a Bible study with some 20 college-aged women.
As they began to look at the life of Jesus in the New Testament colliding with wounded people, Weston said, their lives were being radically transformed — because Jesus was colliding with them and their brokenness, too.
Sensing God was calling them to experiment with a new ministry for women, Weston and those in the Bible study began to invite women of all ages, stages, experiences and faith backgrounds — imperfect and broken — to come to a conference, collide with Jesus and be transformed.
Fifty women came to the first one, then 80 — and then 100.
At that point, Weston went to the session at First Presbyterian Church.
According to the executive presbyter of the Northwest Coast Presbytery, Dr. Corey Schlosser-Hall, Weston told them God had given her a vision for a new ministry, but she wasn’t sure what to do with it.
Then she asked them a question: “Do you want it in the church, or should I just take this and go do this someplace else?”
“It was a remarkable moment,” said Schlosser-Hall. “Because Willow remembers the session saying, ‘We think this vision is anointed by God. We also think it’s bigger than us. So, you can have anything we have in order to make this happen.’”
From that moment, Collide began to grow into what it is now — a partner ministry of the Northwest Coast Presbytery and all three PC(USA) congregations in Bellingham.
As many as 1,000 women come to Collide conferences now. The ministry also offers counseling and mentoring program and also has published curriculum of their Bible studies — along with a blog and podcast.
“What’s happening, Jesus is showing up in the midst of our pain and he’s using our pain and giving it purpose to help other people in theirs,” Weston said.
People like Kristen Mattila, who works in business development and marketing for Collide.
Because she had Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and anxiety, she thought she couldn’t be in ministry. But after finding healing through Jesus, she discovered that she could still be utilized by God.
This compels her, she said, to bring more women into Collide, because so many constantly disqualify themselves.
“If I wouldn’t have collided with Jesus and my pain and my brokenness in that way, I don’t where I would be,” Mattila said.
Weston believes that as Collide continues to live out the value that Jesus meets people in their brokenness and uses them there, people will become more of who they were made to be.
“That’s why we offer so many different programs,” she said. “We’re so excited to be a part of changing lives and we couldn’t have done it without the Presbyterian Mission Agency.”
Along with the Northwest Coast Presbytery, the Presbyterian Mission Agency has provided financial support to Collide, with Mission Program Grants. 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. At a grassroots level, some 500 diverse “1001” communities have formed across the nation.
Paul Seebeck, Communications Strategist, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Today’s Focus: New Worshiping Community
Let us join in prayer for:
Let us pray:
Gracious God, help us to continually look for you in all of Creation and help us always to be a blessing in your sight. Amen.