By Jessica Tate, NEXT Church director
As we transition fully into 2016, we wanted to take a minute to say thanks for the places of light in 2015.
In 2015, NEXT Church hosted its largest National Gathering yet at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago. We experienced inspiring ideas on diversity from Matthew Freeman and Tiffany Jana, insightful mapping from Diana Butler Bass and powerful preaching by Tom Are. 700 of you joined us. Thank you!
We hope to see you again for Faith at the Crossroads, our 2016 National Gathering in Atlanta February 22-24. It’s shaping up to be a really powerful gathering with speakers like:
- Allan Boesak, leader for change in apartheid South Africa,
- Bob Lupton, community developer and author of Toxic Charity and Charity Detox,
- Jessica Vasquez Torres, an educator and leader in anti-racist work,
- Glenna Huber, Douglas Miles and Andrew Foster Connors, faith leaders in Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development making real change in their community through real relationships.
In 2015, we partnered with five different communities to offer regional gatherings to over 600 people across the country and connected with 17 additional groups in “echoes” of the national gathering. Thank you to the countless many who worked to host these and to attend. We look forward to more gatherings in 2016 – and if you are interested in hosting one, please be in touch with me (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you are in the Peoria, IL area, mark your calendars for October 14-15, 2016 for a NEXT Church regional gathering with Nadia Bolz-Weber!!
2015 was a good year for us financially. We ended up with a balanced (if lean!) budget. THANK YOU. We received gifts from 27 congregations and more than 75 individuals, plus some anonymous donors. The challenge match at the end of 2015 yielded an extra $1400 toward our work. Your generosity allowed us to continue our organizing work through me, to partner with the Young Adult Volunteer program to bring Angela Williams on board with NEXT Church part time, and to hire a very part time communications specialist in Linda Kurtz. Along with the NEXT Church Strategy Team and Advisory Teams and many of you, there is powerful leadership among us!
We hope you will consider continuing to give or offering a new gift in 2016. You can give online (in a one time or recurring gift) or in a check made to Village Presbyterian Church, with “NEXT” in the memo line and mailed to: Village Church, 6641 Mission Road, Prairie Village, KS, 66208.
We have many exciting things in the works for 2016: sharing insights from a denominational listening campaign around mission, launching a new resource for new pastors in partnership with the Board of Pensions, co-sponsoring Trent@Montreat (a conference for new pastors), a cohort investigating how we best measure ministry in this new day, and we will be unveiling a new logo and NEXT Church website. We are continuing to be attentive to diversity in the leadership of NEXT Church, trusting that building strong relationships will help create the courage, will, and strength to move forward together as a church that seeks justice and righteousness in our communities. I continue to offer session and congregational retreats, workshops and worship leadership at presbyteries, and preaching in congregations on what’s NEXT for the church and NEXT remains committed to offering you practical tools for ministry at our gatherings and on our website. We look forward to being on the journey with you in 2016 and appreciate your support.
Many a carol and sermon over the last weeks reminded us that Light shines in the darkness. We continue to see reflections of that Light in you and the ministry you carry out in the church across the country. In these dark days of winter, we pray that the work we’re doing together through NEXT Church helps you stay connected to that Light which cannot be overcome.
In Gratitude and Hope,
Jessica Tate, NEXT Church Director