June 8, 2019
In 2012, the General Assembly made a bold commitment — to create an environment within the denomination that would lead to the flourishing of the existing church and the birth of at least 1001 new communities of worship and witness. The Presbyterian Mission Agency went to work creating a system of resources to support this call to equip presbyteries, help potential leaders discern God’s call, develop a system of grants, build leadership capacity and create a network of coaches prepared to accompany a new worshiping community through all the stages of development. As a result of establishing partnerships and collaboration with other North American denominations, the reach of these resources extends far beyond the PC(USA).
Seven years into a 10-year commitment, the PC(USA) is now home to almost 500 active newly formed communities across the denomination in small towns, on college campuses and in urban hubs. The courage and witness of these young expressions of church are breathing new life into our traditional communities as they call and form new disciples of Jesus Christ.
Research reveals that 1 in 10 new members of an existing congregation was previously “unchurched” or “dechurched,” but 44% of the people participating in these new worshiping communities say they were unchurched or of a non-Christian faith before becoming a part of this new community. Gary Mears, leader of The Porch, a new worshiping community in Lucketts, Virginia, describes their mission this way: “Our greatest focus is on the ‘unchurched’ people in our area. We seek to introduce — or reintroduce — Jesus to people in our area who either did not grow up in the church or left the church for some reason. We seek to do so in the manner that is hospitable, nonthreatening and reflecting the love of which Jesus so often spoke.”
Hospitality is a driving value in these communities, and the welcome reaches across hard boundaries in the world around us. For example, The Beloved Everybody Church in Los Angeles is led by the Rev. Dr. Bethany McKinney Fox and is specifically welcoming to people with intellectual disabilities. This community bears witness to the fact that “our churches are incomplete and less whole without these gifts,” said McKinney Fox. “Community is where there are people with intellectual and developmental disabilities present; it just changes how the shape of the community is. It changes the sense of welcome. It changes … I can’t even describe all the ways that it changes a community, for the better. If they’re truly welcomed and celebrated, it makes everybody else more welcomed and celebrated, too. It’s like an incredible gift.”
And that is the hope of the 1001 New Worshiping Communities movement — that we as Presbyterians will receive the incredible gift of celebrating the welcome of whole new groups of disciples into our family.
To hear more voices from our growing family, download our series of podcasts and listen to some of our new worshiping community leaders describe their journey and the joy brimming over in their communities. Listen here: newchurchnewway.org.
To see some of our newest communities in action, visit our library of video stories here: presbyterianmission.org/ministries/1001-2/about-1001/videos/
- For the leaders of new worshiping communities across the PC(USA)
- For presbyteries nurturing new worshiping communities within their bounds
- For the staff of the 1001 movement
- For the Spirit to continue moving across the church, calling new leaders and removing barriers for the birth of new worshiping communities among us
Nikki Collins, Coordinator, 1001 New Worshiping Communities, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Today’s Focus: 1001 New Worshiping Communities
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff