Thirteen new worshiping communities (NWC) are scheduled to receive more than $200,000 in mission program grants from the Presbyterian Mission Agency. Highlights of the grant funding—and new worshiping communities made up of geeks, millennials, Arabic Speakers, Togolese, homeless, college students, Puerto Ricans, Hispanic and Latino worshipers—are listed below.
SEED GRANTS: $7,500 for each new worshiping community to help start its emerging ministry.
- Crosswalk, in Savannah Presbytery, is led by the Rev. Trip McKinnon, who with his leadership team, intentionally walks the streets in the neighborhoods of Brunswick, Ga., asking questions like, “What are you thankful for today?” “What is on your mind/heart?” and “What blessing would you like for yourself or others?” McKinnon also pastors an existing congregation, Altama Presbyterian Church.
- Davis Mosaics, in Presbytery of Sacramento, began when the Rev. Dr. Stephen Moon discovered that a tea and coffee shop near Davis Community Church was becoming a “hot” spot for millennials. Moon, who also leads the Fellowship of Mosaics in Elk Grove, Calif., partnered with Davis Community Church and within a few months a core group of 25-40 young adults had gathered to find ways to connect others to a new way of being church. At Davis Mosaics Moon is offering cooking and language classes to draw millennials of Asian origin from nearby University of California Davis into the community.
- Evangelical Arabic Church, in Presbytery of Grand Canyon, began when pastor Estawri Khejeek visited families in Northern Phoenix—home to more than 90,000 Arabic speakers. Khejeek’s vision is to reach as many Christians as possible, then invite Muslims, who are the majority, to Evangelical Arabic Church, in hopes of creating Christian-Muslim dialogue. After six months this worshiping community has five families (11 adults)—and recently established Sunday school for 4-6 children.
- GeekWorks, in Presbytery of East Tennessee, is for those who don’t quite fit in—those who relate around movies and fantasy themes, or have legendary gaming scores on Halo. As the Rev. Jonathan Warren, pastor at Powell Presbyterian Church, felt God leading him to start something new for young adults and families, he noticed how excited a young woman got whenever Star Wars or super hero themed stories came up. She showed up for traditional church only occasionally, but now is on the NWC’s leadership team, inviting complete strangers to come to GeekWorks.
- Grace de Dieu, in Presbytery of Charlotte, is a French and Ewe speaking worshiping community in Charlotte, N.C. Grace de Dieu began when leader Thomas Abgemenou, who finished his theological education at Union Presbyterian Seminary, noticed the Togolese friends he’d invited to Sugaw Creek Presbyterian Church couldn’t fully participate in worship because of their English skills. Grace de Dieu, which worships weekly at Sugaw Creek, is trying to start a local food pantry, helping each other learn English, and organizing soccer games with local youth at nearby parks in their neighborhood.
- Neighborhood Esperanza, in Presbytery of New York City, began when 25 worshipers at Jan Hus Presbyterian started an evening meal and worship service for the increasing number of impoverished residents in the Upper East Side neighborhood. Now 35 to 65 people from all walks of life, including homeless, come to the English/Spanish service. Some want to join—others want to be baptized. Recently, Jan Hus voted to move nearly all of their resources to plant this new worshiping community.
- Uncommon Worship, in Presbytery of Arkansas, started when ministry leader Max Hill got interest in church again in at United Campus Ministry (UCM), on the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville. At UCM, Hill began to work with people, helping them see their worth—eventually teaching them leadership skills. Uncommon Worship meets in a closed historic church building, where they seek to provide a safe place where a community can question and grow together in Christ.
INVESTMENT GRANTS: $25,000 to new ministries making progress at living into Starting New Worshiping Communities—A Discernment Process.
- Arabic Presbyterian Fellowship (APF), in Heartland Presbytery, began as a gathering of Arabic immigrants and refugees in the Kansas City area. As it grew into a Bible study, the group wanted to worship together as a community. Led by the Rev. Amgad Megally, APF is building connections with Arab and American students learning Arabic. The fellowship plans to offer English classes, assist with transportation and finding jobs, provide food and clothing, and offer counseling companionship, and spiritual guidance, as the only Arabic speaking “reformed church” in the K.C. metro area. A truly multicultural community, Hispanic persons, Berbers and Americans all participate in worship.
- Cana of Fort Dodge, in Presbytery of North Central Iowa, engages “in the mess of people’s lives and mystery of God’s presence,” says the Rev. Barbara Hulsman. The ministry she leads is transforming lives: addictions are being overcome, loneliness is giving way to community and pain is expressed, which gives way to healing. Ministry is happening in more formal gatherings as well as at meals around the table, and walk-in encounters with people in the neighborhood.
- Mision Presbiteriana Rio Grande, in Presbytery of San Juan, in Puerto Rico averages 35 “members”—with attendance doubling for certain events. Sometimes a particular worship service or mission project attract large numbers. Currently ordained ministers and seminary students provide preaching, with worship services led by members of the mission on a rotational basis.
- UKirk-St. Louis, in Presbytery of Giddings Lovejoy, has developed significantly as a new worshiping community in a campus setting. Under the leadership of the Rev. Mariam Folz, the core group of worshipers has grown from three to 12. Now she is working with those involved in UKirk-St. Louis, to host and invite fellow students, who don’t have clear sense of the Christian faith, to learn about the gospel. UKirk-St. Louis has developed significant relationships with local congregations and individual donors in the presbytery. Currently Trinity and Second Presbyterian Churches are partner congregations.
GROWTH GRANTS: $25,000 each toworshiping communities responding to needs of a new group of people—whose ultimate goal is become a viable, sustainable Presbyterian Church, (U.S.A.) congregation.
- UKirk @Indiana University, in Presbytery of the Ohio Valley, was formed in Bloomington when two churches, First Presbyterian and United, came together to create a new ministry for college students before the 1001 movement got off the ground. Leader Mihee Kim-Kort is working to help the churches see UKirk@Indiana as its own ministry that is becoming a new worshiping community, rather than as a program or activity of the church. The community meets monthly, for a gathering known as “Dinner Church,” around the communion table, which has contributed to numerical growth and in the discipleship of students who are coming to know more about the gospel.
- Iglesia Santuario, in Presbytery of New Hope, is a Hispanic and Latino ministry in Raleigh, N.C., that is seeing an increase in attendance and funding. Now worshiping with 40 people, they recently received two $5,000 gifts— signs of support from local churches as they work towards becoming an established PC(USA) congregation. Iglesia’s leader, lbis Hernadez, was recently ordained as a Commissioned Ruling Elder. He is now on the session of the worshiping community’s partner congregation—Milner Memorial Presbyterian Church.
The Mission Development Resources Committee of the Presbyterian Mission Agency selected grant recipients based on polices and procedures development by the Office of Mission Program Grants, now housed in Racial Ethnic and Women’s Ministries. Proposals for the next round of new worshiping community grants are being accepted until Feb. 10, 2016, with reviews and decisions being made March 16-17.