ST. LOUIS
Kathryn Threadgill speaks at the 1001 luncheon at the 223rd General Assembly in St. Louis, MO.

Kathryn Threadgill speaks at the 1001 luncheon at the 223rd General Assembly in St. Louis. —Photo by: Michael Whitman

New and old worshipping communities comprising the entire church life cycle were represented during a Presbyterian Mission Agency luncheon Tuesday.

Congregations and presbyteries representing the entire church life cycle ― from 1001 New Worshiping Communities to the Revitalization Initiative of the Office of Vital Congregations ― shared the spotlight.

The diners watched a video about Serious JuJu, a new church ministry in Kalispell, Montana, described as a skateboarding-based Christian outreach to skaters and other young people, and heard an interview of Becky Wind, of Isaiah’s Table, of Syracuse, New York, by the Rev. Michael Gehrling of the 1001 initiative. Wind described that ministry, which offers spiritual and bodily food to all those who come to the table, as “authentic.”

The Rev. Kathryn Threadgill, associate for vital congregations in the Presbytery Mission Agency’s office of Theology, Formation and Evangelism, talked about her office and its work with 1001 communities and the Vital Congregations Revitalization Initiative.

She described the Vital Congregations work of that initiative as a process, not a program, and said she sees the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) on the verge of a new awakening, “a new thing that Christ is doing in the church.” The initiative works to enhance the seven “marks” of vital congregations ― lifelong discipleship, authentic evangelism, outward incarnational focus, servant leadership, Spirit-inspired worship, caring relationships and ecclesial health.

Five presbyteries are engaged in the pilot stage of the initiative, including the Presbytery of Newark. The Rev. Barbara Smith, transitional director of presbytery ministries in Newark, is happy with the progress she has seen.

“If it can work in Newark, it can work anywhere,” Smith said. “I’m here to tell you it is working in Newark.” She said 12 churches are participating over two years.

“So this is what we’ve been up to,” Threadgill said. “More importantly, this is what Christ has been up to.”

Details about the initiative, and resources, are available by searching “vital congregations” on the PMA website.