Wells & Walls: Well-Being in a Thirsty World

Kansas City, Missouri

March 13-15, 2017

Find video, sermons, liturgy, workshop resources, and more from the 2017 National Gathering:


Rodger Nishioka
Soong-Chan Rah
Linda Mercadante
Alonzo Johnson
Marci Auld Glass
Paul Roberts
Charlie Scoma
Glenn McCray
Tom Charles
Tamara John

Tom Cramer


The theme for the 2017 National Gathering was “Wells & Walls: Well-Being in a Thirsty World.” Our guiding scripture was John 4:1-42 – the Samaritan woman at the well.

In John 4 we are told of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well, her encounter with her people, and Jesus’ words to the disciples. In the person and story of Jesus Christ we see movement across barriers, new understanding, and life-giving transformation as a consistent pattern.

In thinking about this National Gathering, we wanted to explore how we — as disciples and as the church — participate in Jesus’ pattern of moving across barriers, new understanding, and life-giving transformation. In short, finding and offering well-being.


Keynote: Rodger Nishioka
Keynote: Soong-Chan Rah
Keynote: Linda Mercadante
Sermon: Alonzo Johnson
Sermon: Marci Glass
Sermon: Paul Roberts
Worship: Tim Hart-Andersen Reflection
Worship: Monday Evening
Testimony: Tamara John & Tom Cramer
Testimony: Tom Charles
Testimony: Glenn McCray & Charlie Scoma
Ignite: John Wilkinson
Ignite: Presbyterian College
Ignite: Peace for Peoria
Ignite: Open Table
Ignite: Racial Awareness Festival
Ignite: Ann Hartman
Ignite: Mindful Ministry
Ignite: Lee Hinson Hasty
2017 NEXT Church Update


We also asked a variety of people to reflect on the National Gathering on our blog. Here’s what some attendees of the 2017 National Gathering had to say:

Sustained Radical Racial Reconciliation

Societally and denominationally there are many places in which the thought of racial reconciliation is celebrated. Our hope is that NEXT Church can be something different.

Finding Inspiration

These days I go to conferences looking mainly for inspiration, which is a lot more fun and has turned out to be thoroughly worthwhile. In the case of NEXT Church National Gatherings, I’ve found inspiration not only in the usual places — worship services and plenaries and workshops — but in the conversations and in the solitary wanderings through a strange city and even in that most-Presbyterian of places: the hotel bar.

The Call to Create

Like a burning bush announcing to Moses that God had some plans for him, the book-from-an-old-hymnal that began with “LOVE” shouted a reminder that God has given me an assignment in my current call: to facilitate ways for all of God’s children to enact God’s radical and abundant love.

Blest Be the Tie that Binds

It was at the NEXT Church National Gathering, with the help of the creative spirit of the ad hoc, crowd-sourced worship band and the workshop led by Hans Hallundbaek about the rehabilitation through arts program at Sing Sing Correctional Facility, that I learned the Holy Spirit breathes life in the ties that bind us in new and interesting ways as the Body of Christ.

A Place of Response and Action

The Sarasota Statement has had a lot of buzz since it debuted at the National Gathering. I particularly appreciate how the statement directly addresses groups of people and actions that will be taken to bring reconciliation. This month, the congregation I pastor is taking four Sundays to walk through the Sarasota Statement in worship.

Creating a Permeable Community

How can a community make itself more easily permeable? How can we be an open and welcoming space to those who are entering our communities for the first time?

Some New Code Words

One of the images I encountered at the National Gathering was a promise born from an ancient people trying to live into “an incarnate Kingdom of God.” Jeff Bryan reiterated that the banquet of the Lord would never fail to bring everyone to the table—literally, the whole stinking community.

Change is Constant, Growth is Optional

This was my third National Gathering. I find these events a helpful and invigorating use of my time and a great way to reconnect with old friends and colleagues. This year was no different, but as I left Kansas City I realized that I left feeling old and very white – but in a growth-producing way.