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.

READ THE STATEMENT

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…

MEET THE WRITERS

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

STUDY GUIDE

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.

BACKGROUND

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.

MORE RESOURCES

Social Media Graphics

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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.

Engaging the Sarasota Statement

I am grateful for all of the ways this document, written by a small representation of the PC(USA), has led me and challenged me throughout the past year. And now, I'm excited about a new way to engage the Sarasota Statement and look more deeply into its core convictions. The writers of the Sarasota Statement just published a study guide so that you and me and communities of Christians all over can faithfully engage with the statement, scripture, our confessional heritage, and one another.

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.

Making Room at the Table

In a day and age when so many people have chosen to write a “Dear John” letter to the church, the ministry of NEXT Church seized the opportunity to write the Sarasota Statement that actively demonstrated what it means to include one another and to seek out the alien and stranger.

God’s Beloved Community

When I was invited to help compose this statement of faith and action, I immediately felt a sense of apprehension. I wanted to be certain that I could bring my whole self to the occasion. It was also vital that the communities in which I hold membership and those I care for see themselves, their struggles, and passions voiced here.

The Kingdom of God Is

Perhaps the most countercultural posture the church can proclaim and seek to embody is one of confidence and hopefulness. Such a way of faith and action may demand that we live and act counter to our own preferences at times.

The Stupendous Promises of God

The reason we dare to imagine what things should look like in this world (in the Sarasota Statement and beyond) is because God has made us stupendous promises. God’s Kingdom will come to earth as it is in heaven, we confess.

Accepting the Invitation

There is something special about the Sarasota Statement – and also nothing special about it at all. But it points beyond itself, inviting and challenging all of us to do the same, in our place, in our time, right here and now.

Called To The Uncomfortable Place

At one point, I told one of my colleagues on the team that I had never been so aware of both my privilege and lack thereof as I was during this process. My race, gender, and sexual identity combined with my traditional Presbyterian education and my untraditional non-parish job placed me uniquely and intensely in the midst of the various identities represented in the group.

What Do We Say?

The writers of the Sarasota Statement began their work with the recognition that they are but “a small and imperfect reflection of the church.” They gathered because it seemed an important and difficult moment for leaders around our church to name the convictions of our faith alongside the disconnection and division in this country. What do we say?