Members of Bridge to Grace Covenant Church in Roswell, GA, had a feeling that God was inviting them into something new. They wanted to make a difference in their neighborhood, which had changed significantly since the church was founded 40 years ago. The neighborhood was once made up primarily of single-family homes priced for middle- to upper-class buyers. Over the last decade, 10,000 new apartments were built across the street from the church. New neighbors moved in, many immigrating from Central and South America.
Members of the church recognized the gift of their location and the growing diversity in their neighborhood. They joined the Churches in Mission cohort at Western Theological Seminary because they were eager to pay attention to the changes and faithfully respond to them. In their new neighbors, they saw increased material needs, language barriers, and the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on day laborers. They began to wonder what it would take for people from different countries to learn from and with each other.
Through the Churches in Mission process, the Bridge to Grace team explored their neighborhood and interviewed people who live and work there. They heard about pressing needs in local schools, recognized food insecurity, and encountered challenging language divides. After a season of discernment, the team decided to create a collaborative non-profit called Love Our Neighbor, inviting partnerships with other churches and non-profits. They hope to expand their food distribution program, support counselors and teachers at local schools, engage in reciprocal language activities, and open their building for neighborhood childcare.
God keeps showing up in surprising ways. A local Spanish-speaking congregation made an offer to buy part of the property. The pastor of a Haitian congregation asked to use the Bridge to Grace building as a worship space. A neighbor requested to expand her at-home daycare into the church building. A neighbor offered to share a bus that she uses for food distribution. Each of these new ministry opportunities aligns with things the team has been praying about. The Holy Spirit is on the move in Roswell, GA, and continues to open doors for Bridge to Grace and her neighbors to join in.
“Discerning local mission demands curiosity and a willingness to change.”
Responding to God’s Call
Congregations who join the Churches in Mission cohort agree to listen deeply to people inside and outside of their church to discern what God is calling them toward in local mission. Each team engages in an in-depth process of listening and discovery in their neighborhoods. Along the way, they learn from neighbors they’ve never met before; wrestling with what they hear becomes the foundation for discerning the next steps. In response, each church team designs a creative way to thank their neighbors for reshaping the church’s imagination about what’s possible.
Join the Conversation
Is God inviting your church to something new in your neighborhood? If so, we’d love to talk with you. Get connected to a learning community whose goal is to love God and their neighbors right where they are.
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Learn how to join the next Churches in Mission cohort by filling out this form: wtsem.info/ciminfo
Meet the Churches in Mission Team
Shari Oosting, Churches in Mission Director
Hannah Stevens, Churches in Mission Associate Director