At its 2017 National Gathering, NEXT Church released a new confessional statement in response to the current state of the church and world. It’s called the Sarasota Statement, and it was made possible by a partnership between NEXT Church and the Presbyterian Foundation. In 2020, in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and too many others, as well as in light of the seismic challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic and other crises, the original writers of the Sarasota Statement gathered again virtually over a period of months to consider how they might reframe and re-engage the Sarasota Statement in the context of 2020. The result of their reconvening is a new prologue to the original statement, which speaks particularly to the changes of the last few years and our current realities.

We hope you’ll take the statement into your own life and context, using it as a tool to declare your own faith statement, proclaiming the light of Christ.


We, a small and imperfect reflection of the church, gather in heart, mind, and body to search for words to speak our faith convictions in our particular cultural context: the hope we proclaim, the ways we fall short, and the actions to which we commit ourselves.

We are people of hope who confess Jesus Christ is Lord over a Kingdom in which no one is hungry, violence is no more, and all suffering is gone. All sit together around a shared table, wolves and lambs enjoy each other’s company, and every tear is wiped away from every eye…


A group of eight diverse participants in the Presbyterian Church (USA) gathered in Sarasota, Florida, on January 23-24, 2017. Together, the group wrote a first draft of a statement of faith. Over subsequent weeks, the group refined their work. The writers gathered again (virtually) in 2020 to add a Prologue.

Rev. Katherine Lee Baker

Minister for Lifelong Learning and Adult Discipleship, Central Reformed Church (MI)

Rev. Dr. Chris Currie

Pastor/Head of Staff, First Presbyterian Church, Shreveport (LA)

Rev. Dr. Brandon Frick

Village on Antioch Site Pastor, Village Presbyterian Church (KS)

Rev. Bertram Johnson

Minister of Justice, Advocacy & Change, Riverside Church (NY)

Rev. Dr. Cynthia L. Rigby

W. C. Brown Professor of Theology, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary

Rev. Layton Williams

Audience Engagement Editor, Sojourners

Rev. Glen Bell*

Pastor, First Presbyterian Sarasota (FL)

Rev. Jessica Tate*

Director, NEXT Church

Robert Hay, Jr.*

Ministry Relations Officer, Presbyterian Foundation

Contextual information for writers and conveners is from the time of the initial publishing of the Sarasota Statement.

*denotes convener


We hope you’ll take the Sarasota Statement into your own life and context, using it as a tool to declare your own faith statement, proclaiming the light of Christ. This study guide is offered by the writers of the Sarasota Statement and NEXT Church to facilitate the development of faith statements across the Church. We pray this guide will allow you to engage with the Sarasota Statement as you consider your own faith.

The guide is broken down into five parts: Preamble, Part I, Part II, Part III, and Closing. With the exception of Closing, each part contains multiple questions about biblical themes, theological themes, and contextual themes, drawing upon scripture, our confessional tradition, and our contemporary context to engage each part of the Sarasota Statement.


On Tuesday, March 14, at the 2017 NEXT Church National Gathering, we released a new confessional statement in response to the current state of the church and world. It’s called the Sarasota Statement, and it was made possible by a partnership between NEXT Church and the Presbyterian Foundation.

Glen Bell, one of the conveners of the statement, has written more about the genesis of the Sarasota Statement.

Glen Bell, Layton Williams, and Bertram Johnson give background on the Sarasota Statement at the 2017 NEXT Church National Gathering.


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Blog Posts

Learn more about the Sarasota Statement with these blog posts from the writers, the conveners, and people who are using the Statement in their own contexts.

Trusting in God, Always at Work

None of what the Sarasota Statement calls for is easy. The work to which it calls us is the work of many lifetimes. These words from the closing of the statement remind me of Dr. King’s insistence that the “arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

Refusing to Hear

Perhaps fear is why we, the church, have refused to hear some expressions of faith. If we truly listened to the stories of those crying out for justice, then we would be convicted to act. If we looked to the silence, perhaps God would not respond, leaving us to wrestle with our gut instinct that something is not right.

The Idol of Discord

In the Sarasota Statement, the authors chose a perfect verb about our segregated and broken church communities: grieve. The authors show incredible wisdom in the selection of this verb as we, in the church, have allowed the worldly idols of race, class, ideology, and belief to divide us into obscurity.

A Time to Keep Silence and a Time to Sing

As a Church, through the centuries, we have been at our worst when we’ve demanded that only a unison song of our own making will be our song; that no other notes, no harmony could enter our performance. We have been at our worst when we’ve silenced the voices which would have woken up our theology from its oppressive droning on, or challenged prophetically its monotone which we had been indoctrinated to think was the only note which would please God.

The Healing of Our Planet

I do not know how to love God’s good creation. I know only that in the beginning God breathed everything into being and loved it — all of it.

Small and Imperfect

I have grown jaded when I see a statement that starts out saying, "a small and imperfect reflection of the church." Do we mean it? Will our life-our statements AND practices-bear it out? Do we see ourselves as small? Do we think, from beginning to end, that we are primarily… imperfect?

Deeply Moved by Grief

What I didn’t know was how poignant the words of the Sarasota Statement would be – chosen nine whole days before they were spoken aloud, five days after another deadly mass shooting.

Comforted and Challenged

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.

Road Signs and Tough Topics

This month’s focus for the NEXT Church blog will be 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.