Synod of Mid-America to Fund New Worshiping Communities

$600,000 “Innovation Fund” to support new ministry that has not yet been tried

October 16, 2012

Landon Whitsitt smiles, PC(USA) symbol tattoo on right arm

Mid-America Synod Executive/Stated Clerk Landon Whitsitt (who served as vice-moderator of 219th General Assembly) is thrilled about new "Innovation Fund" to help synod's presbyteries create new worshiping communities —Photo by Erin Dunigan

Louisville

 The Synod of Mid-America, consisting of six presbyteries in Missouri and Kansas, has converted a $600,000 building fund into an “Innovation Fund"—to be used to support ministry that hasn’t been tried and create new worshiping communities in the synod’s presbyteries.

 “The way we’ve set this up is, we’re going to spend the money,” says  Synod Executive/Stated Clerk Landon Whitsitt. “It’s basically a $20,000, one-year-at-a-time, and  renewable for up to three years per new ministry.  In the next few years, we may have a legacy of at least ten new worshiping communities.” 

The intended purpose of the Innovation Fund is to support Synod of Mid-America presbyteries in securing creative and thoughtful elders to facilitate vision for new ministry. To this end, the fund will provide a stipend of $10,000 a year for an identified elder working 20 hours a week, plus pension and basic medical coverage ($9,294 per year) through the Presbyterian Board of Pensions.

 “We want to inspire prototype exploration of what it means to be a Christian community, by our example,” says Whitsitt. “We don’t have to be afraid to risk.  We’ve got this money; God wants us to use it.”

Whitsitt, author of the book Open Source Church: Making Room for the Wisdom of All, is thrilled to be serving and working with a group of people who “put their money where their mouth is. When I wrote that book, seminary students and recent grads, younger ruler elders, had big ideas, energy to explore what church can be and become,” says Whitsitt. “With this Innovation Fund, it no longer has to be just about big ideas. We have the chance to see it flushed out in a very real way.”

 A Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary grad, Whitsitt says the fund is patterned after work done by the Ecclesia project in the Mid-Kentucky Presbytery and by work done by Philip Lotspeich in Church Growth ministries.

“I grew up in ministry with them. I like the posture the 1001 initiative is taking,” he says. “We gather together in local groups to enact God’s mission. Presbyterian Mission Agency and the Synod of Mid-America in two different ways are trying to support what’s happening in our presbyteries. Funding and letting everybody know what everybody else is doing is a way creativity can flourish.”

Roger Dermody, Deputy Executive Director for Presbyterian Mission enthusiastically celebrates the synod’s vision and courage. "I applaud them for stepping out in faith and reclaiming some of the risk-taking entrepreneurial zeal that used to identify us as Presbyterians.  I’m eager to learn from their innovation.”

Editor’s note: Download Synod of Mid-America Innovation Fund parameters and application.

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