2018 National Gathering Ignite: Lisa Scott Jones

Lisa Scott Jones, Children & Young Family Minister at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, gives an Ignite presentation at the 2018 NEXT Church National Gathering about her ministry with toddlers and their families.

Rockin’ Toddlers is a fun-filled, easy-to-do church outreach program designed to serve and engage young families.

2018 National Gathering Ignite: Heather Colletto

Heather Colletto, Director of Communication and Mission at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Grand Rapids, MI, gives an Ignite presentation at the 2018 National Gathering about ServeGR.

Westminster founded ServeGR.com in 2016 to help all Grand Rapidians link their lives together in meaningful ways by finding ongoing volunteer opportunities that play to their strengths, use their passion, and fit their schedule.

2018 National Gathering Ignite: Christin Thorpe

Christin Thorpe is the Fellows and Community Engagement Coordinator at Metro-Urban Institute at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, and gave an Ignite presentation at the 2018 NEXT Church National Gathering. Christin’s ignite presentation on Interactive Theological Education aims to get you to think about how academic institutions can bridge the gap between day-to-day realities faced within our very complex communities and our classical theological training.

2018 National Gathering Ignite: Linda Kurtz

Linda Kurtz, student at Union Presbyterian Seminary, gives an Ignite presentation about her experience completing a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education at a behavioral health hospital.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. How might you mark this in your own context? How might you minister to those impacted by mental illness?

Comforted and Challenged

Each month, we post a series of blogs around a common topic. This month, MaryAnn McKibben Dana is curating a series on the Sarasota Statement, which we unveiled a year ago and continue to promote for use in our congregations and communities, along with the accompanying study guide. You will hear from a variety of voices and contexts throughout March, reacting to phrases in the statement, and sharing ways it is being used. How have you used the Sarasota Statement? What is your reaction to these phrases? We invite you to join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter

by Frances Wattman Rosenau

Passing the peace can be the most uncomfortable part of worship. You know, the time when some congregations invite everyone to stand and even get out of their pews in order to shake hands and greet other people who have gathered in worship. It’s not just uncomfortable because there are those inevitable awkward church people who pass the peace with exuberant enthusiasm and purpose. It’s awkward because of, well, the other people.

Greeting other people, indeed touching other people in worship, forces us out of our God-and-me bubble. If we came to worship to escape the world, we find ourselves right smack in the middle of it anyway, shaking hands with strangers. It’s so much easier to slip in quietly during the first hymn, sit unassuming near the back semi-anonymously, and pretend we’re there to be with God. We know what to do.

But other people just get in the way.

The Sarasota Statement offers us an encounter. Through the claims and stances in the statement, we may very well find ourselves “both comforted and challenged.” Like passing the peace in worship, we get the opportunity with the Sarasota Statement to be changed both by radical affirmation as well as boldly facing the truth.

In this phrase “both comforted and challenged,” I hear an echo of the oft-repeated call to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” Religious leaders have latched on to this phrase as a battle cry — our purpose as Church. These words, from Finley Peter Dunne, were originally written about the role of newspapers in public life.[1] And yet, it seems such a great fit for the Church, when we are our truest selves.

Indeed the Sarasota Statement does comfort and challenge. We are all here in this statement: no matter our identity or what side of what spectrum we’re on. We are heard and accompanied in experiences of being excluded. We are challenged in our own privilege or our histories of exclusion. We are called to something better.

The whole endeavor gets to the core of what church is for. Why don’t people sit at home by themselves, sing songs to themselves and read the Bible by themselves? I mean, maybe some people do. My suspicion is that it isn’t very fulfilling, and certainly not very transformational.

Those of us who engage in church, and who value a vibrant faith community do so to be a part of something bigger than what we could do on our own. We need other people, as awkward as they are, to comfort and challenge us. That’s what the Sarasota Statement has done for our congregation when we have used it in worship: it amplifies the truest purpose of church. Through voices long-silenced and calls to action, the Sarasota Statement enriches worship to its greatest call – to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable – in order to move boldly forward as the people of God.

[1] https://www.poynter.org/news/today-media-history-mr-dooley-job-newspaper-comfort-afflicted-and-afflict-comfortable


Frances Wattman Rosenau is the Pastor of Culver City Presbyterian Church in the Los Angeles area. Her DMin studies focused on multicultural and multiethnic worship. She has a passion for the global church and has lived in India, Scotland, Arizona, Upstate New York, Paris, Chicago, and Tulsa. When Frances is not at church you will find her training for a race, reading about bulldozers with her boys, or searching for her husband in a used bookstore.

2018 National Gathering Ignite: Mark Elsdon

Mark Elsdon, Executive Director and Campus Minister at Pres House, gives an Ignite presentation at the 2018 NEXT Church National Gathering.

Mark shares a story about how creative revenue generation and a major PCUSA impact investment turned a campus ministry on the verge of closing into a vibrant multi-million dollar ministry serving 750 students per year. How might church capital be leveraged for mission impact in other new and innovative ways in your own context?

2018 National Gathering Ignite: Jason Santos

Jason Santos, Mission Coordinator for Christian Formation at Presbyterian Mission Agency, gives an Ignite presentation at the 2018 NEXT Church National Gathering.

His Ignite presentation is called “Killing Church Softly.” For the last half-century, we’ve increasingly formed our children and youth through developmentally-centered, age and stage, peer-oriented ministry programs that essentially removed them from the corporate life of the church–this ignite presentation highlights the failure of those efforts through generational and identity formation theory.

2018 National Gathering Ignite: Not So Churchy

Paul Vasile and Mieke Vandersall give an Ignite presentation about Not-So-Churchy, located in New York City.

Not So Churchy embarked on a project in which the congregants themselves would interpret and present the scripture readings through song, movement, or other creative means. This project, which has become an integrated part of their liturgical year, has been a rich learning experience for the congregation, and provided an opportunity for the congregants to exercise their creative authority and leadership capacities. Mieke and Paul talk about what they learned and how this has transformed their community’s relationship with Scripture.

2018 National Gathering Keynote: David Leong

Professor David Leong of Seattle Pacific University gives a keynote presentation at the 2018 NEXT Church National Gathering in Baltimore, MD.

David Leong, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Missiology at Seattle Pacific University and Seminary, where he directs the Global and Urban Ministry program. Dr. Leong’s teaching and research examine the theological meaning of the city, and he is passionate about churches engaging their neighborhood communities with creativity and compassion to bridge racial and cultural divisions. David lives in Seattle’s beautifully diverse Rainier Valley with his wife and two sons.

Workshop Materials: Leadership Essentials for Laity

Workshop: Leadership Essentials for Laity
Presenters: Ann Michel

Attached you will find the powerpoint from Ann Michel’s workshop “Leadership Essentials for Laity.”

Workshop description: This workshop will equip lay leaders and church professionals who are not ordained clergy with some of the basic skills essential to effective church leadership. Beginning with the premise that all leadership is relational, the workshop will consider team building, recruiting, and how to develop others as leaders.