Three new church developments will receive $25,000 each in Mission Program Grants from the Evangelism and Church Growth ministry area of the General Assembly Mission Council (GAMC).
The recipients selected by the Mission Development Resources Committee of the GAMC are as follows (listed by synod):
- Northland Village Church, Los Angeles, Calif., Synod of Southern California and Hawaii, Presbytery of San Fernando, is in a primarily “de-churched” neighborhood in East L.A. that is 40 percent white, 40 percent Latino-a, and 10 percent Asian, with the remaining 10 percent a mix of other ethnicities. Because so many of their neighbors have been wounded by previous experiences of church, Northland’s mission is to become an agent of reconciliation in the neighborhood. “Many thought it would be impossible to plant Northland Village here,” says pastor Nick Warnes. “Other churches came in to save the pagans. We recognized the kingdom of heaven was already here. We simply wanted to join in what God was doing, by coming alongside the other with compassion, justice, hospitality, and community.” Northland Village began with 10 people meeting in homes over dinner. Once their team expanded to 30, they began to rent space for weekly worship. Currently 60 people attend worship, with 110 actively engaged with the church. Their goal is to plant another church within the next 18 months, because they have learned that “if a church doesn’t plant within its first five years, it becomes increasingly difficult to cultivate such a culture.”
- United Wharton Community Church, Wharton, N.J., Synod of the Northeast, Presbytery of Newton, has a vision to develop a Spanish-speaking worshiping community in their English-speaking congregation—with a joint youth ministry. United Wharton was formed in 2006 when a local Presbyterian and Methodist church merged. Now they believe God is doing a new thing again, calling them to reach out to Wharton’s growing Latino-a population. Currently at 43 percent, the local Latino-a population is expected to grow by 15 percent in the next five years. There is only one Spanish-speaking service in Wharton. With this grant, United Wharton will be able to hire full-time a commissioned lay pastor from Columbia, who is already on staff, as an evangelist, to grow this new Spanish-speaking community through worship, Bible study, and prayer groups.
- Team Sweaty Sheep, Louisville, Ky., Synod of Living Waters, Mid-Kentucky Presbytery, began in 2009 as a mission outreach and ministry to the triathlon, running, and other related sports communities. As founder, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary graduate Ryan Althaus says, “Initially our goal wasn’t to be a church but simply to have fun, build up fellowship, and bring Jesus into the endurance athletic community.” But as the Team Sweaty Sheep ministry fellowship grows, it is becoming not only an experience of church on race day to the endurance community but also a resource providing unique worship experiences as well as health and recreational opportunities, such as hosting kickball leagues and Frisbee nights for existing churches. Team Sweaty Sheep is part of Mid-Kentucky Presbytery’s Ecclesia Project initiative, which helps develop and support new Christian communities. “Our ministry is about Christianity on the move,” says Althaus, “and getting people to play together in the name of God.”
Mission Program Grants is a ministry of Evangelism and Church Growth in the General Assembly Mission Council of the PC(USA). Please continue to support Presbyterian mission, which is reaching new communities with the good news of the gospel through these evangelism, discipleship, and transformation efforts.