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Meet one of the congregations teaching us about Churches in Mission. Grace and Peace is a congregation located on the West Side of Chicago. Over the last decade, they have invested in local mission and provided food to 40 families a week through their partnership with the GAP Community Center. During the initial COVID-19 shutdowns in March, people in the surrounding neighborhoods of North Austin, Humboldt Park, Hermosa, Galewood, and Belmont Cragin quickly felt the impact of lost income and lack of resources.

Pastor John Zayas recognized the pressing needs and reached out to other churches and organizations. Utilizing their partnerships, Grace and Peace began to organize food donations in rising quantities. Through the GAP Community Center, they went from serving 40 families to 400 families in the spring of 2020. Over the summer months they increased their capacity to serve 800 families a week. Now, with the help of government and local partnerships, they are giving 2 to 5 boxes of food a week to 1,200 families.

Preston Hogue, an associate pastor at Grace and Peace, shares how providing food has defined their ministry this year. He notes that Grace and Peace has impacted tens of thousands of lives through the pantry. Grace and Peace was invested in their neighborhood and clear on their mission. It was never in question who they were called to be in this moment. There have been a variety of responses to the pandemic of 2020. In many places there has been an abundance of fear, shutdown, and retreat. At Grace and Peace, Hogue tells us, “We have responded by feeding people.”

If your congregation is ready to engage in local mission and wants to learn from what churches like Grace and Peace are doing, consider applying for the Churches in Mission Cohort hosted by Western Theological Seminary. Find more out more at www.westernsem.edu/churches-in-mission

Western Theological Seminary (WTS) is pleased to announce it has received a $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to fund Churches in Mission. The project aims to learn with and from congregations as they discern God’s movement in their neighborhoods.

Churches in Mission will extend the work of the Formation for Ministry office and will be led by Shari Oosting and Dr. Kyle Small. The seminary will deploy the $1 million grant to invite two cohorts of up to 15 churches each to discover the needs in their community, to clarify congregational mission, and to determine how to join the ongoing work of God in their neighborhoods.

Project Director Shari Oosting recognizes the timeliness of this opportunity, “The context of Christian ministry in the U.S. is changing quickly, and we’re thrilled to dedicate the next five years to listening, discerning, and celebrating local mission projects.” Kyle Small, Director of Research and Learning, sees this as an extension of WTS’s partnership with the church, “We love the church, and we desire to prepare leaders for the church in mission. This generous gift provided by Lilly Endowment is WTS’s opportunity to accompany congregations and prepare leaders to discover and join the Holy Spirit’s movement in and through local communities.”

When it comes to the work of racial justice, this year’s Stoutemire lecturer Dr. Leah Gunning Francis says two things the church needs are courage, and the will to listen.

“The dominant narrative in our world is ‘everyone has an equal chance of success.’ All you need to do is pull yourself up by the bootstraps and you can be successful just like XYZ person over here. Well we know that’s not true—the playing field is still not equal or level,” she says. “You now are going to have to take the time to listen to people’s experiences and perspectives that you might not be accustomed to listening to.”

When it comes to the work of racial justice, this year’s Stoutemire lecturer Dr. Leah Gunning Francis says two things the church needs are courage, and the will to listen.

“The dominant narrative in our world is ‘everyone has an equal chance of success.’ All you need to do is pull yourself up by the bootstraps and you can be successful just like XYZ person over here. Well we know that’s not true—the playing field is still not equal or level,” she says. “You now are going to have to take the time to listen to people’s experiences and perspectives that you might not be accustomed to listening to.”

Wes Granberg-Michaelson, author of several books including “Future Faith: Ten Challenges for Reshaping Christianity in the 21st Century” sits down with Kyle Small to discuss his start in public theology, his latest book, and walking the Camino De Santiago together this summer. For 17 years, Wes served as General Secretary of the Reformed Church in America, and has long been active in ecumenical initiatives such as the Global Christian Forum and Christian Churches Together. He is a frequent contributor to Sojourners Magazine.

Wes Granberg-Michaelson, author of several books including Future Faith: Ten Challenges for Reshaping Christianity in the 21st Century sits down with Kyle Small to discuss his start in public theology, his latest book, and walking the Camino De Santiago together this summer. For 17 years, Wes served as General Secretary of the Reformed Church in America, and has long been active in ecumenical initiatives such as the Global Christian Forum and Christian Churches Together. He is a frequent contributor to Sojourners Magazine.

 

In this episode, Dr. Kristen Deede Johnson discusses her award-winning book “The Justice Calling: Where Passion meets Perseverance,” and what justice and righteousness look like in our lives and vocations.

In this episode, Dr. Kristen Deede Johnson discusses her award-winning book The Justice Calling: Where Passion meets Perseverance, and what justice and righteousness look like in our lives and vocations