Jessica Winderweedle
The Feed Truck
The Feed Truck exists to foster spiritual engagement and a love of neighbor among young adults in central New Jersey. The Truck provides a revenue stream for a small church, meaningful work opportunities, and a unique connection between a local congregation and its broader community. (To learn more, check out!)
Many students have found Kingston United Methodist Church, near Princeton, NJ, to be a haven of hospitality in recent years. Even as KUMC has experienced participatory growth, monetary giving has not grown at an equal rate. KUMC needed to develop alternate revenue streams to fund their ongoing ministries and also had a desire to continue reaching out and empowering local students as agents of ministry. The Feed Truck was born out of the intersection of these needs and callings. The Feed Truck is a mobile food truck that serves locally-sourced, farm-to-fork breakfast fare at area events, particularly on college campuses. The Truck is staffed with volunteers and chaplains that engage with event attendees. The Truck seeks to be a good neighbor by partnering with a different area non-profit each month, raising awareness and funds (through a revenue sharing program) for an organization working to alleviate food insecurity or economic injustice. At events, our crew talks with students about the partnering organization, and at month’s end, they are invited to participate along with KUMC at a Volunteer Meet-Up benefiting the organization’s efforts. Last fall, we worked with Farmers Against Hunger, and in addition to making a small financial donation, a group of volunteers gleaned an orchard, gathering 1200 pounds of apples to be distributed in holiday baskets to families in need. The Feed Truck has been a joyful point of fellowship and service for KUMC, and it has provided a unique vehicle (literally!) for getting the congregation out into the community.

Nicole Farley
First Presbyterian Church of Waukesha
Our congregational setting is a downtown church in a smaller city in Wisconsin with a broad demographic but one which is heavily skewed over 60. Our membership if just over 100, with almost 30% homebound. One family has been open about a family member affected by bipolar disorder, resulting in suicide, and another is quietly dealing with a schizophrenia diagnosis.
This past October, building on resources from the Samaritan Counseling Center, I designed a Sunday worship service to bring to light how we are all touched in some way by mental health and addiction concerns. My primary goal was, in the safe space of worship, to let people know that we do not bear our worries alone. To offer a visual representation which was not uncomfortably vulnerable, I invited people to collect painted jumbo craft sticks from a bowl before worship, one for each person about whom they care with mental health or addiction challenges. Sharpie markers were available for adding names to sticks. Instructions next to the bowl of sticks indicated that they would be offered up as prayer in the service. During our response hymn, I collected the craft sticks people had chosen. We had around forty people in worship that day yet I was handed over 120 sticks. I had planned, during a brief pause in our communal prayer, to set the sticks in a bucket of sand, with a lit Christ candle in the center. Because of the volume, I instead chose to insert them in the sand while we prayed together, timing the start of the concluding Lord’s Prayer with the placement of the last stick. It was tremendously powerful for all to see all the "people" we carry in our hearts. After the service, the "thanks" were the most heartfelt I have ever experienced, revealing more heartache than I could have ever known before.

Emma Horn
Backyard: Wednesday Kids’ Club
An after school program at Church of the Covenant in Arlington, VA
My name is Emma Horn and I am the Christian Educator at Church of the Covenant in Arlington, Virginia. Our innovation in ministry is an after school program called The Backyard: Wednesday Kids’ Club. This program meets on Wednesday afternoons, and is made up of elementary school kids who are in grade k-5. We have seven kids currently in the program, only two of which are members of our church. While you may be thinking to yourself that after school programs have been done before, it is innovative in that it bucks against the societal norms that are so common in Northern Virginia. Instead of the pressure to be hyper successful and get everything right, we help them to learn that God loves them just the way that they are. Instead of saying that religion is something that you get when you are older, we help them to be experience and explore religious language. While this program isn’t new, it is so counter cultural that is it innovative. The impact on the volunteers and the participants is a new sense of community. The children now have this new set of adults that they know care about them and the adults have a new set of children who they help nourish spiritually. For the families, the value of the program is seeing that there is a religious community out there that cares for their kids and wants nothing more than for them to be grow in their faith.

William Andrews
’LTO-Religion’ at Stateville Correctional Center
This ministry provides a college-level religious studies class for men in a maximum-security prison. This class serves as a platform to honor the voices of prisoners, to advocate for higher education in prison, and to offer immersion experiences for pastors and other leaders with no experience in ministry with prisoners.
I offer Bible studies and an academic religious studies class at Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet, Illinois. The religious studies class, in particular, encourages civil interfaith dialogue while developing written and oral communication skills. Recent research confirms that post-secondary education in prison reduces recidivism significantly and increases post-release employment. I also use the class to connect the outside world with the prison context in two important ways. First, I facilitate visits for pastors and other leaders who lack experience and knowledge for ministry to people affected by incarceration. Second, I am creating a blog to publish articles, testimonies, and weekly lectionary reflections written by incarcerated authors. The voices of prisoners--those most immediately impacted by prisons and the criminal justice system--provide invaluable insight as we work for justice in these areas. In the future, I plan to develop a more formal structure to offer consulting services to congregations exploring involvement in these and other related ministries.

James Paton
Crossroads International Church of Amsterdam
Located in Europe’s most densely populated and secular city we reach both internationals and cosmopolitan postmodern Dutch people with the love of Jesus.
Our 2012 teaching series ’For The City’ led to the development of ’Sunday for the City’, a church-wide event where we cancelled all Sunday services and mobilized the entire church community into a number of hands-on service projects throughout Amsterdam. With 1,500 identifiable people of all ages in bright T-shirts serving those in need, the marginalized, sex workers, and tourists the event made national news and raised the profile of being a church on mission with Jesus in our city. Projects included feeding the homeless, cleaning parks and river banks, beauty treatments for sex workers, distributing flowers to all transportation and public workers, taking the elderly and disabled for walks, greeting tourists and providing them directions and free drinks, free hugs, prayer stations, and music teams on the ferries crossing the river at Central Station. Subsequently we have successfully mobilized small groups and missional communities to continue with these service projects, have begun a monthly collection for the food bank ’Food for the City’(we are now the largest provider to the food bank), created conversation stations thought the city for spiritual conversations, and widened our scope to partner with several other churches in visible witness to our city. ’Sunday for the City’ has become a regular feature of Amsterdam city life, making our faith visible, and an entry point for those who do not yet follow Jesus.

Laurie Feille
SpringHouse Ministry Center
Three churches of three different denominations own a building together in which we do ministry as equal partners.
Three congregations: Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), United Church of Christ and ELCA (Lutheran) own a building as equal partners. We are located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. We pool our monetary resources for building upkeep such as utilities and for office supplies and equipment: copier, paper clips, etc. We have joined our Children’s Ministries together and we have one Youth and Young Adult Minister for SpringHouse. At the same time we are three separate congregations with no plans for merging. We have three worship spaces which we rotate through four times a year. This way no one can claim their ’pew.’ We don’t have pews so each congregation can set up the space as they want for their worship services. This partnership has brought new life to all three congregations. We are no longer spending time in meetings trying to figure out how to keep an aging building going. We are accessible and our building is a green building. Our money is now used for Outreach/Mission and ministry. We share our baptisms together with the Lutherans and UCC using a font for infant baptism and the Disciples of Christ using the baptistery for baptism by immersion. The font and the baptistery are located in our Gathering Space. We have four times a year where we worship together and celebrate the gifts we share, our differences and the joy of being in partnership together. It is wonderful to serve in a setting where our energy and time are spent doing ministry!

Jason Chesnut
The Slate Project
A new Christian community - both online and face to face.
We have created a new ministry in the last year and a half called ’The Slate Project’ - one that asks the question, ’What if the church had a blank slate?’ And in addition to meeting face-to-face in Baltimore, we also have an online presence. We create online content four times/week (and soon it will be five), including a digital sermon (of sorts), a blog with various contributors, and different types of creative images. Unlike the norm for faith communities, our online presence is not pointing to any face-to-face gathering - it is an end in and of itself. We create new content each week, consistently, that seeks to engage people - and encourages them to share the content with their own networks of influence. In this way, we are experimenting with a new kind of 21st-century Christian community: one that seeks to connect and cultivate disciples within the real, radical, and raw Jesus movement. With our online presence, we are not getting butts into pews. We don’t have a building. Our weekly ancient Christian meal meets in different venues. What we do have, however, is a growing following of our online ministry - some are other church leaders, while others would never step foot inside a church building. We’re trying something new, and we’re creating a new metric with which to measure it.

Brian Kluth
My ministry assists Christian leaders to conduct multi-church city or country-wide 40 Days of Generosity to show God’s love and generosity to others.
My 40 Day Generous Life Bible devotional has been used by over 3000 churches in the United States to instruct people in God’s Word, inspire generosity, and increase giving. It has also been translated into over 40 languages and is being used by churches on every continent. There have been many reports of double-digit giving increases wherever the devotional has been used. In Guatemala, 108 churches, 9 denominations, and many businesses and NGO’s decided to do a "Loving Guatemala - 40 Days of Generosity" campaign together. During the 40 Days thousands of devotionals were distributed, over 10,000 Christians were mobilized to serve the needy/neighborhoods/nonprofits, and over $1 million dollars was collected for future outreach ministries to serve the needy. Following a sabbatical year to seek the LORD, I felt called by the LORD and confirmed by others to focus my future ministry on helping cities, communities, and countries launch campaigns - 40 Days of Generosity - Learn|Serve|Give|Celebrate. So, I developed a FREE app version of my 40 Day Generous Life devotional for iPhone/iPad, Android, and Windows8 phones and devices. This APP can now be easily used (and translated) by Christians anywhere on the planet. I am now working with leaders to conduct multi-church campaigns for and I am also in conversations with leaders to conduct and campaigns in the future. These innovative and life-changing campaigns have been and can be used by the LORD to transform Christians, churches, communities, and even countries for God’s glory.

Bonnie Canizaro
Teddy Bear Project
There are 63,000 children imprisoned on our southern border. As a Presbyterian pastor in Trinidad, Colorado, I began collecting teddy bears to distribute to these children: the Teddy Bear Project. As this project takes off, I am distributing information, seeking donations, and finding ways to distribute them to all these incarcerated children. People are responding—already more than 100 have been donated and more are coming. Within the year these will be distributed. Prize money can help this purchase and distribution.
In Christian Century, August 2014, I discovered that there are 63,000 children imprisoned on our southern border. As a Presbyterian pastor in Trinidad, Colorado, I am not taking sides in the political battle or recommending solutions on immigration. Instead, I see these children—who have escaped war, drug trafficking, and atrocities in their own countries—as young children of God. I want to remind the children of God’s love and help people realize that these are children, whom Jesus spoke as the center of his kingdom. I began collecting teddy bears to distribute: the Teddy Bear Project. As this project takes off, I am distributing information, seeking donations, and finding ways to distribute them to all these incarcerated children. People are responding—already more than 100 have been donated. All those teddy bears that are not new need careful washing, and a few need repairs or a new ribbon around their necks. This project to help foreign children is partly in reaction to America’s failure to accept Jewish children who were being allowed to leave Germany in the two weeks following Kristal Nacht in November 1938. More than two million children died as we showed no mercy. How wonderful it would be for American Christians to develop and nurture compassion for people they don’t know—but whom God loves and has rescued! What an image of love and grace would be observed by people who have rejected the church in this century for our lack of grace and mercy.

Shivonne McKay
The UMC Funeral Home and Memorial Care Center
The minster through the church serves to meet the needs of the people as written in Acts 2. Through using the scripture as the foundation, spiritual formation is cultivated through preaching and teaching of all persons, leaders, and aspiring clergy. In this capacity, the ministry of grief share can be expanded beyond what the church is currently doing where ministers are only called upon to memorialize the service. In this capacity, we can work together to walk with the grieving in a way that they can gain understanding, insight, and comfort. This will not only meet the need associated with grief but also an economic development one. This ministry can offer employability to those who specialize in both the death care industry as a separate entity and ministry. This collaboration could work to benefit both industries for long term gain.
Those of the Christian faith understand that incorporated into the biblical mandate is the ability to care for and nurture the dead and those who mourn. One could presuppose that death is the centrality of the Christian faith. For we understand that without death, there is no life. What does this mean for the dying? What does that mean for those who mourn? Clergy are already in the business of death care and offer a unique skill set necessary to the successful transition of the deceased and the those left behind to mourn. With the establishment of the UMC Funeral Home and Memorial Care Center, we offer a five star facility with funeral services that is like no other. The Mission of the UMC Funeral Home and Memorial Care Center is to combine the sacredness of the transitioned by commemorating the life of the deceased in a funeral service that could lay one to rest with dignity and honor. The services includes, private memorial or chapel service, cremation or burial, a choice of quality caskets or urns, flower packages, car service and more. Our state of the art dining facility for your loved ones to gather and reconnect is onsite for convenience. Our onsite grief counselors and ministers are equipped to address all concerns that may arise amidst the planning process. This is an innovative way in which a sustainable ministry could fund the development of other ministries to further meet the needs of the local and wider community.

Jennifer Yocum
Severe Weather Shelter
Using college students as trained staff, our church operates as a walk-in shelter when temperatures drop below freezing.
Many churches offer shelter to people experiencing homelessness, but Forest Grove United Church of Christ provides this ministry through a partnership with Pacific University as a designated Federal Work/Study site. This partnership supports students to be trained and paid to provide meals and safe housing to homeless guests during our Severe Weather Shelter season (November 1 to March 1.) This innovation allows us to maintain consistent, accountable staffing without incurring payroll costs. We also frequently receive contributions of food, clothing and other necessary items from student-run drives. This past year, we also became designated as a practicum site for the University’s School of Social Work. The practicum student receives valuable program management experience in a well-supervised setting. These partnerships create a ministry that is valued and supported by our community at large, supports practical work experience, gives students an entree into the life of our church and gives our homeless brothers and sisters a place to come in from the cold. We are proud to share our story. Thank you for your consideration

Ken Henry
Pastoring in Silicon Valley
The Rev. Irene Pak and Rev. Dr. Ken Henry serve a congregation in Silicon Valley. We continue to learn how the demand for innovation impacts people working in the tech industry.
This was going to be no ordinary church meeting, complete with a Presbyterian casserole and side dish. These were busy 30ish-types working in an environment filled with the constant drumbeat to be innovative, meet deadlines, solve impossible conundrums, assuage the demands of a technology driven culture, and be profitable--extremely profitable. In our context for Christ’s ministry, Jesus walking on water is nothing compared to creating the next iPhone operating system. What church you attend is not the question here, but rather if you work for a company that is valued in millions and billions. So, our innovative approach has been to listen and learn from those people working in such places like EBay, Google, Apple, Cisco, Symantec, and a myriad of start-ups. At the meeting described, 13 people created an invaluable profile of a person working in an industry where losing one’s job is almost expected and loving your neighbor does not bode well for advancement. On this growing edge in pastoral ministry in San Jose, CA, we are committed to teaching adult education classes, preaching sermons, and holding other such meetings in our congregation. But what we’ve learned so far, is that what tech people want most out of church is a kind of sacred oasis where one can come to unplug, a place that is committed to caring for the poorest of the poor in their community, and a place where he or she can reconnect with the mysterious presence of God.

Robert Heimach
Irvington Presbyterian Church
Irvington Presbyterian Church is a 475 member church in Indianapolis. The neighborhood of Irvington is a vibrant, diverse, urban community rebounding from several decades of neglect.
No matter our color, creed, gender, orientation or political stance, people care. Maybe we do not always care about the same things, but deep inside we care about something. Unfortunately, caring does not always turn into action. The proposed ’I-Care’ app for smart phones and tablets guides people to choose what they care about. Maybe they care about violence, human rights, the environment or education. Maybe they care about food justice and where they can find the nearest farmer’s market or visit a restaurant for local and organic food. Maybe they want to attend a civil protest or volunteer as a tutor or send an email to an elected leader about an issue. The I-Care app will help people identify what they care about and then direct them to a specific action. Within a few touches of the app a person can move from an attitude of caring to actually acting on that care. It puts the theoretical concepts of the Gospel into practical applications, which makes it a valuable tool of social change. The I-Care app will connect people personally and locally with what they care about, then puts the information and tools for action directly into their hands. When more people act on what they care about, communities will develop, neighborhoods will emerge from neglect, and social conflicts will turn into social accomplishments. This app can initiate this action in people who have always cared but never had the information and tools to act.

Julian DeShazier
Wisdom Arts Education at University Church
An arts project that redeems both self and community, this program brings seasoned artists to help underresourced youth (grades 5-12) process and articulate their story. While enhancing emotional and spiritual health, the after-school program then allows youth to produce their own exhibitions: it is a church-led conservatory of youth artists on the South Side.
While music and art classes still exist in schools of neighborhoods of privilege, in the communities surrounding University Church there remains a lack of access to art - music, theatre, and textile - while, at the same time, these children suffer from intense chronic trauma that needs processing. This program is a ministry first because it seeks healing and uses art as a tool to enliven spirit: distinctive from other arts programs in the area. For two years, the church has been open to allow youth to record and compose, and beginning in Fall 2015 will expand to theatre and visual art. Children will create based on themed units (quarterly) that challenge them to explore and share their story. After creating, they will produce their own exhibition. The students in the music tract will also form a community youth orchestra - such a thing does not exist on the South Side of Chicago. The church is already in partnership with the Chicago Academy of Music and has established a music school to begin this work; this grant would allow resources for the curriculum that anchors the program. To be clear, this is an Arts Education program first in that it uses art to educate on and foster love for self and the world. Art is a ready lens because of its disturbing lack in communities of color. Six days a week, professional artists will mentor, teach, and network youth to opportunities, while other staff will providing counseling and tutoring.

Matt Furr
Passion Outreach
Passion Outreach offers after school and school based intervention programming, teen parenting and leadership development programs for at risk teens in North Chicago.
I am nominating Passion Outreach for this award because through this life giving ministry, hundreds of at risk youth have come to know Christ and are being resourced to break free from generational poverty. Through holistic care, relational mentoring and discipleship the stories of these teens are being rewritten. They have hope and a future. Passion Outreach has formed a great relationship with North Chicago High School. Through this relationship, Passion Outreach volunteers are able to go into the school cafeteria and be present with the students during the school day. They have gained credibility in the community as they have served and poured into the lives of at risk kids over the past decade. In a community where about 60% of students graduate high school, 100% of children who are part of Passion Outreach graduate. 50% of those who have graduated from high school have continued their education at 4 year universities, community college or a vocational school. The core messaging of Passion Outreach combined with their relational ministry approach has yielded life transformation for children who were bound by poverty.

Dale Dwyer
The Largest Table at St. John’s Evangelical Protestant Church UCC in Columbus, Ohio
The Largest Table is an invitation to experience God’s presence and the opportunity to share God’s love in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week, in the middle of the city. It is an open door, a warm welcome, a home-cooked meal, and a table to which all are invited. It represents a message of uncompromising inclusion. Years ago it began with a vision of creating a place in the middle of the week where people from all walks of life might gather together with a spirit of uncompromising inclusion. We offered a brief, optional worship service and then a wonderful hot meal cooked by a team of volunteers. We called it The Largest Table because we wanted to convey that ALL people were welcome and that we believed that there was always enough food and always room to welcome one more. In 2004 during Lent we began serving about 50 people a week. Today that number has soared to 250-300 each week and continues to grow. People come because they are hungry. People come because they know that, regardless of who they are or what has happened in their lives, we will receive them with gracious hospitality. People come because it is a fun place to be.
The ministry began 11 years ago as a Lenten experiment. It is NOT a ’soup kitchen.’ Rather, it began as a way to broaden the understanding of ’other’ in an attempt to enculturate the congregation with the idea that we are all, at heart, the same. The innovative impact was two-fold. First, the congregation embraced the idea (after much trepidation) and really internalized what it meant to be inclusive. Second, and equally important, is that because of the ’radical hospitality’ of The Largest Table, the Open and Affirming process welcoming LGBT guests and parishioners passed unanimously without much process or debate. As one parishioner said, ’How could we continue The Largest Table ministry without embracing ALL persons just as fully?’ After my wife’s (Rev. Dr. Kathryn Nystrand Dwyer) departure in 2010, Rev. Virginia Lohmann Bauman assumed the Sr. Pastor position in 2012 and has continued the ministry. It is now entering its 11th year. It is fully funded by donations, a partnership with the food pantry in Columbus, and an annual fundraiser entitled, ’Body and Soul.’ It is one of the most successful ministries in Columbus and deserves special recognition from the McCormick Prize.

Micah James
Admin Is Ministry
The goal of this site is to resource and equip our colleagues in ministry and support them in the administrative aspects church work.
Administration as ministry. Most people don’t say those words, administration and ministry, in the same sentence very often. Most keep them apart as separate activities, many even keeping conversations of administration and ministry in separate meetings. We would argue against this! To minister is to administer, and to administer is to minister. Both have "minister" as part of their root, which is part of the basis for argument that they should be intertwined and attended to equally and collaboratively. This is how began. This website was born out of on-the-ground ministry. In moments of ministry, we realized that the resources we needed in the area of administration were not always readily accessible. After seeking out education and then certification, we became convicted that the area of administrative ministry is underdeveloped and full of potential as we seek to do our best for the ministry of Jesus Christ. The goal of this site is to resource and equip our colleagues in ministry and support them in the administrative aspects church work. Before the website launch, the founders and lead teachers collaborated with congregations of all sizes, ages, shapes and theologies: from emergent to missional, to congregational and traditional. All churches, all communities have administrative needs. We want to equip leaders to do good administrative ministry so that their time can be freed up to do the other many parts of ministry.

Kevin Lum
The Table Church
The Table Church is a non-denominational church in the heart of DC, working to create intentional partnerships across denominational and racial barriers.
The Table is a new church plant that creates intentional partnerships as a way to bring about racial unity, reflect God’s kingdom, and serve our city. We launched in March 2013 and have since grown to nearly 170 regular attenders. However, more than simply planting a new church, we are trying to change the paradigm for urban church planting. The Table works to create partnerships with historic African-American congregations in order to build relationships and serve the city. Our congregations share buildings, partner in ministry, and intentionally build relationships between members. For example, in 2013 The Table created an ecumenical cooperative partnership with Douglas Memorial United Methodist Church (DUMC), an aging congregation in a rapidly gentrifying area. Instead of simply renting an aging church building, we created a partnership that allowed us to hold special joint services throughout the year, create opportunities for fellowship around the table, operate joint ministries and care for their historic church building together. Through our support, the DUMC food pantry has doubled the amount of food it distributes from 10,000 pounds in 2013 to 20,000 pounds in 2014. In March 2015, The Table will launch a second location in partnership with John Wesley African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in the heart of the U Street neighborhood in Washington, DC. The Table has also created relationships with the local Episcopal diocese and the local United Methodist Conference as a way to begin training seminarians and ministers who are interested in rethinking church planting in the urban context.

Deb Richardson-Moore
Triune Mercy Center
The Triune Mercy Center is a mission church that ministers with and alongside the homeless of Greenville, South Carolina. Besides worship, we have drug rehab placement, social workers with mental health expertise, legal aid, job coaching, eye screenings, art, music, theater, gardening, meals, groceries, NA, AA, Celebrate Recovery, etc.
When I arrived in 2005 at the Triune Mercy Center, a non-denominational mission church to the homeless in Greenville, SC, the church was largely driven by people in active addiction, jostling for services. We found crack pipes and liquor bottles in bathrooms, signs of defecating in the breezeway. We refereed fights over mealtime seconds. The innovation was turning the parishioners – addicted, mentally ill, mentally challenged, criminal offenders and otherwise – into servants of each other. One is given charge of the laundry room, where he/she washes everyone’s clothes in return for a chore around the building. Others pack groceries in our food pantry and help our partner churches serve meals. Others sweep, mop, dust, polish, haul trash, paint and prune shrubbery. Some hand out worship bulletins, take up the offering, lead the responsive reading, help serve communion. Some make art, music or participate in our theatrical Playback Café. The impact has created a community, and made street people proud to be Triune members. To our surprise, a worship service that started as 30 homeless people has grown to 260-340 people – homeless, working poor, middle class and wealthy. One day we received a call from another homeless service provider in Greenville who had run focus groups to determine the gaps in the community’s services. "I just want you to know," the caller told me, "that Triune came out on top of all the groups. When we asked what was so good about Triune, people responded, ‘They’re glad to see us.’ "

Nate Phillips
FIRST - Freeing the Imagination of the Recently Seminary Trained
A mechanism for churches to connect young ministers with emerging ministries in and around New Castle Presbytery, Through FIRST we have developed a clergy cohort for newly ordained ministers and started several unique worshipping communities in New Castle Presbytery.
In the late 17th century, when Frances Makemie initiated New Castle Presbytery, the first in the nation, he was doing something before the other Presbyterian starters of his day. In 2012, with Makemie as inspiration, four New Castle Presbytery pastors launched FIRST. The core of the idea was to pair strong churches with the Presbytery in nurturing recently-trained leadership in the church, providing entrepreneurial pastors a supportive incubator in which to try something new, and reaching out to those beyond the current embrace of the church. We invited Holly Clark-Porter to serve as our first Starter and now have welcomed Edwin Estevez as our second. Both are being encouraged to initiate new and distinct worshiping communities in the city of Wilmington. The FIRST Leadership Team has learned many new things since the vision was conceived. We have learned that there are talented, energetic, visionary, recent seminary grads who hear about FIRST and experience God’s Spirit calling them to New Castle Presbytery and Delaware. We have learned that they are willing to take the risks and make the sacrifices required to create a ministry alongside God’s Spirit where no ministry has existed. We have learned that our Starters are Evangelists. They are introducing people to Christ’s Church – challenging assumptions, bridging brokenness and healing past harm, inviting new folks in and disaffiliated members to try again. We have learned that their very presence amongst our churches is creating a new hunger for evangelism. We have learned that we need them.

Rev. E.J. (Ellen-Jo) Emerson
’God at the Movies’
A cultural and entertainment event leading to discussions on faith.
Entry: "God at the Movies" 1. Context: the screening of a recent or classic movie at church that is open and widely advertised to the entire community online, via flyers, and by PR to the media. It is an opportunity for fellowship and fun including free popcorn. Recommended age of attendees: 16 and older. Free will offering optional to defray costs. 2. Innovation: the introduction of the concept that while most filmmakers or screenwriters may not intend to communicate any message about God in their work, because all humans are created in the image of God, which includes the gift of creativity expressed through art, when we watch a movie for entertainment and/or education, an honest discussion of the film can reveal surprising ways we glimpse God and the gospel without any attempt to shoehorn any agenda into the work. 3. Impact: People want to return again and again, to watch more films, to engage in deeper discussion of filmmaking as art and to explore more about the ways God is revealed in human art even if the artist did not intend such a message. Naturally the facilitator of discussions must be careful to keep the sharing of observations from deteriorating into hurtful arguments. These events are to be celebrations of art, culture, fellowship, and insights into God’s presence in and among all people.

Jake Caldwell
First Christian Church, Owensboro, KY
Phoenix rising: an endowment created to stir the missional imaginations of current and future church members and empower them to build God’s kingdom in their own time and place.
At First Christian Church, our greatest ministry innovation was born of an unwanted opportunity and an unwavering commitment to our mission: to manifest Christ’s love by empowering all to compassionate service. FCC has been part of the life and landscape of downtown Owensboro, KY for over 150 years. Our opportunity for innovation came through immolation, when our entire campus was destroyed by fire. It has been a disorienting journey leading to growth and self-discovery—one we have likened to Israel’s wilderness wandering. Now, the phoenix is rising from the ashes. Our new facility will be less grand than the gothic sanctuary where we once worshiped. That is in part because we committed a substantial portion of our insurance proceeds to create a missional endowment. It serves two purposes: first, it underwrites the capitol expenses of our new building in perpetuity, making it possible to dedicate our resources to ministry rather than maintenance. Second, it generates a dedicated revenue stream for outreach and missional projects. Paralyzing hand-wringing over what we can’t afford to do has been replaced with fresh vision, renewed passion, and redeemed imaginations for how God is calling us to minister in our time and place. It has inspired our members to add to the missional endowment through planned giving, building a legacy of service to others for generations to come. The impulse was to rebuild it like it was and continue as we were, but through discernment, we discovered God’s innovative plan for an alternative future.

Dorothy Baroch
Dialogue and Discovery
Dialogue and Discovery can strengthen parishes and congregations by closing the communication gap that sometimes exists between pastors and the people in the pew.
A SOLUTION How does a pastor cope with the resignation of all the volunteer leaders of his parish’s religious education programs? After considering my suggestion that he invite his congregation to offer their ideas about the needs of the parish, Father Art Waters hired me to implement "Dialogue and Discovery," a process I developed. The goals were: 1. to assess the spiritual and temporal well-being of a mid-sized, rural parish; and 2. to invite parishioners to discern and use their gifts and talents in ways beneficial to their faith community. Approximately 100 volunteers were involved in more than 50 neighborhood coffee hours. At the conclusion of the six-month process, ten major ideas had surfaced. The people wanted faith formation not just for youth, but for all parishioners. Ultimately, a Faith Formation Director was hired. After three years, more than half of the goals were accomplished. Eventually, all ten of the ideas were addressed, including the building of a new church. "Dialogue and Discovery" was successful because: 1. the pastor was willing to try something innovative; 2. the whole parish was invited to participate; and 3. parishioners were invested in the outcome. This program is the foundation of my first book, Listen to the Heartbeat of the Church. Based on the concept of visitation, an age-old and rarely used process in the Church, "Dialogue and Discovery" invites renewal—similar to that which Pope Francis has initiated in the Roman Curia. It can make a difference—one parish, one congregation at a time.

Donna Schaper
Judson Memorial Church
I am Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City.
Judson Memorial Church in New York City’s Greenwich Village took out its pews in 1959. Today Judson remains an open space as an American Baptist/UCC congregation, built by John D. Rockefeller. Judson gave the first clean water to immigrants in the 1890’s from its fountain. That water was free. Free and open is our cultural and architectural context, on an amazing corner on Washington Square Park. Judson’s removal of the pews meant many things to the arts in New York City, including birthing modern dance and off-off Broadway. It also set up a problem and a pattern of deferred maintenance. Open space meant free space as long as Judson could afford it. When I got to Judson in 2005, we were down to 75 members, a building with a broken elevator and a leaking roof. We were in danger. Talking aging hippies into renting space they had always given away was the task. Now, ten years later our popular "space use policy", which we define as maximizing mission and maximizing money, continues our tradition of free space for emerging artists as well as providing an income stream of $300,000 per year. Our gym is now "The Gym at Judson: A work-out space for the arts." We still give away space about half the time. We are also getting better at housekeeping. We have 325 plus people in worship and a growing congregation of the next generation of hippies. We also set up and take down a lot of chairs.

David Charles Smith
Jordan UCC Peace Garden
Our church has been at its current location for 263 years, and while many churches struggle to keep the doors open, we are opening our doors (and windows, too) to the Spirit as we are guided and directed into the future God intends.
Where tradition meets vision. That’s innovation. When ministry offers value to the community, that’s impact. Jordan UCC has a rich and wonderful heritage, but some have said not much has changed. We are an active church, known for our prominent location. When a planned harvest of mature hardwoods turned into a mess, member Bill Wehr began to dream about possibilities. In conversation with leaders in church and community, and after prayer and reflection, we discerned God would have us do a new thing: creating a Peace Garden, Paraphrasing Isaiah, rough places were made smooth, and we even commissioned a steel sculpture from prophetic text: ’they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks.’ (2:4) Walking paths created, footbridges built, a Biblical garden designed, mini gardens planted and maintained by families and individuals, and an outdoor space for worship and larger gatherings completed. Blessing of the Animals services, hot dog roasts, and environmental lessons are just a part of what now happens in this 2.5 acres of God’s sacred space. Church groups, scouts, those in need of community service hours, those in need of a helping hand, those with intellectual challenges, the local rescue mission, are among those who have shared their time and talent in maintaining this beautiful legacy: a place to pray, open to all people, with our deepest desire that those who enter might seek, and even find, the peace of God which passes all understanding.

Zachary Hancock
Pree ’n Pree
The name Pree ‘n Pree was taken from a Jack Kerouac poem: Cerrada Medellin Bluese 6th Chorus, the word is described in the poem as slang for prayer in French and English. The word for prayer in French is prière. Pree ‘n Pree meets in the narthex of Central Presbyterian Church, downtown Denver, one block north of the State Capitol. It has taken us months to understand what we are doing with this new worshiping experience, and get a feel for where it needs to go, as we continue to experiment in ways that are often not understood by typical churchgoers, and yet often intuitively understood by church outsiders. The sort of experimentation I speak of is a disorienting process that demands unrelenting theological consideration. Through these considerations, and in an attempt to articulate a theology that represents and describes Pree ‘n Pree, I have begun to make reference to a lineage of Protestant mystics, whose path we follow.
Pree ‘n Pree innovates before the worship service begins. An original piece of wood-cut art is created that represents the theme and topic of each service - inked and hand-pressed onto a 4x6 postcard, including information about the service. The invite is sent by mail, delivered in person, scanned and emailed as a personal invitation. In an age of impersonal technology, the impact of a hand-made invitation is inestimable. Positivity about the invite abounds. While most are happy to receive the scanned version, many prefer the hard copy. At Pree we prioritize the value of inviting people to contribute their interests and passions to the community and worship at Pree. A notable example of this is a couple of guys who are church drop-outs that love to brew beer. We invited these two beer lovers to brew for Pree ‘n Pree worship. They have brought beer to the table of hospitality and sacrament (inscribed with William Blake’s poem The Little Vagabond) every service going on a year and half. Pree cherishes committed artist and activist as voice and symbol of God’s prophetic truth in personal ways: Writing and arranging original music; Conversations with visual artists/activists in worship (including via Skype). People can’t get enough of original quality. The impact of making personal connection in the very personal ministry of knowing God and growing in the ways of the soul is a hallmark of innovation by Pree ‘n Pree and one of the key actions of our blossoming post-modern ministry.

Sally Stewart
Project Smile
Project Smile’s mission is to spread the love of Jesus one smile at a time.
The Context - Founded in February of 2014, Project Smile is based at St. Peter’s United Methodist Church near Princess Anne, MD. The members of the group come from more than 10 other churches from a variety of denominations and share a desire to spread the love of God one smile at a time. The Innovation - The founder is a mother of young children with a full time job who has a heart for service but limited time for meetings. She created a Facebook page where more than 50 members are invited to communicate throughout the week. A project is suggested on the page and pledges of help and products are made. By the time the group meets in person supplies have been gathered and assembly takes very little time. A time of prayer and discussion about the next project usually follows the work detail. Working this way practically eliminates the need for face to face meetings which means that no one has to miss work, arrange for child care or be away from home for long periods. The Impact - In the short time the group has been together more than 1000 people have been touched. The group has provided and assembled hygiene bags, school supplies, and food packages have been provided for the homeless, school children, nursing home patients and more. Currently the group is collecting money to purchase CD players for Alzheimer’s patients affected by music and has taken over the local emergency food pantry.

Donna Schaper
Judson Memorial Church
I am Senior Minister at Judson and active in the wider church, the United Church of Christ.
The United Church of Christ has always had a problem with its name. United? As though others are not? Our self-description improved in the 1990s. That language was "Open and Affirming," describing a movement among us. By signing up as an "O and A" congregation, we not only tolerated homosexuals as members and ministers but also affirmed them. I was the Western Area Minister for the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ for seven years during the 1990s. There I had episcopal responsibility for placement and discipline for 125 congregations and their clergy. I traveled 1on average 100 miles a day to these churches in Hampshire, Hampden Berkshire and Franklin counties. Because the Conference had adopted the Open and Affirming policy and done the study required to achieve that name, I was not allowed not to present openly gay candidates to congregations. In the beginning easy half said automatically no to these candidates. Seven years later we were down to about ten per cent of premature negation. The combination of the statewide policy and the biblical study, which accompanied it, was powerful. The study was crucial. Many congregations agreed to be open immediately. They found it much harder to be affirming. Our refusal to compromise made the impact: who wants to just be tolerated? Because the study materials were well written and seriously biblical, we were able to pry people open. A secondary impact was faith formation and clarification of who we are and who we aren’t.

Donna Schaper
Judson Memorial Church
I am Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church and active in the United Church of Christ.
If you can’t make an elevator speech, or blurb a book, or "message" in a few words, most people don’t have the time to listen to you. In the United Church, we have innovated with slogans. I was the fundraiser for the "God is Still Speaking Campaign" from 2002 – 2005. Ron Buford, an advertising executive, developed the slogan about God still speaking. My task was to fund the distribution of the slogan to our congregations. We had the red and black color theme. We had the comma symbol, from language of Gracie Allen, restating the slogan in her words: "Never place a period where God has put a comma." We had the five-minute video with two bouncers (actors) keeping the "wrong kind of people" from sitting down inside a church. These included single mothers, Latinos and a gay couple. We knew the slogan was resonating. We did not have the money it took to put the large red and black comma banner up outside our congregations. We did raise about $300,000 but it was not enough for the distribution campaign we imagined. CBS news heard about the video and put it up as part of a news story. Next thing we knew hundreds of congregations wanted a banner and were willing to pay for it. Today 70% of UCC congregations sport a banner plus T-Shirts, coffee mugs, buttons and red and black M and M’s. The slogan and its tchotchkes have been widely successful. "Still speaking congregations" are growing.

Donna Schaper
Judson Memorial Church
I am Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church and active in the United Church of Christ.
In the last ten years, we have had about 20 ordinations at Judson. This past year we have had three. It is also my fortieth ordination anniversary and I have begun to fear the clericalization of the joint. We are on our way to a big party, after three other big parties, all for clergy. My friend, Eric Elnes of Dark Brew Ministries, told me the story of the Simba car repair shop in Washington State. Two Afghani brothers have been living and working it for over forty years. People love this repair shop. They love it because the two Simba brothers not only repair their car at a decent price but also sometime even repair things the owner didn’t know needed attention. They do preventive maintenance. They are dedicated to the safety of the car and its drivers. Why? In their words, "because we look at every car and like to think that the Prophet himself will be driving it away." They have a vocation in car repair. Cardinal Suenens said "God has ordained you because God didn’t trust you to be a layperson." Over-clericalization can infantilize lay people and offend God. The Sunday after my 40th we will have a Simba service. The ordained clergy will make the punch and do the childcare and set up the chairs and take out the garbage. All the volunteers and lay leaders will be honored. A few will choose to consecrate their work.

Jessica Disu
Chicago International Youth Peace Movement
Chicago International Youth Peace Movement is an advocacy group that I was led by the Spirit of the Lord to create in 2012. My ministry preaches peace to young people and reaches many who have not yet joined the Body of Christ. We also reach those who have left the church as an institution. To minister, is to serve, and we serve by creating youth programs, events and experiences intended for young people who have lost hope and confidence of co-creating a more peaceful world. My ministry utilizes Hip Hop and Spoken Word to reach those deemed ’hard to reach’ and my lyrics and music testify my witness and journey into how and why I became a believer and still believe.
The innovation and impact of my ministry can be demonstrated through my social media following where I have an audience of thousands of people around the world who follow and participate in social justice discourse that I uplift in most of my messaging. Through spoken word and Hip Hop, I have been blessed to speak peace and push forward the message of The gospel of Jesus Christ to many who have not and do not plan on attending church. Through youth programming events, workshops in the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center, after school programs, Buddhist temples in Thailand and Myanmar, City Council in Leeds, England I have been blessed to serve and testify about the power of the Holy Ghost who turned my life around and gave me a purpose and passion for living for youth. I believe that Chicago International Youth Peace Movement is an innovative ministry because although we don’t have an official church building, many lives are touched and impacted because of our witness of The Lord seen on social and digital media, heard in rhythm and spoken word, and anointed by the power of the Living God.

Bill Habicht
Interfaith Rotating Winter Shelter of Davis
The Interfaith Rotating Winter Shelter of Davis (IRWS) is a community based-effort enabling member congregations to provide cold-weather shelter and hospitality on a rotating basis to persons who are homeless in the Davis community.
The Interfaith Rotating Winter Shelter of Davis is an innovative emergency shelter program that serves individuals and families living homeless. The spirit of the program is to provide a bridge between the housed and unhoused, providing shelter in the physical, emotional and spiritual sense of the word. It strives to see the wholeness in each person, trusting and to collaborating with that wholeness. Founded in 2007 through a partnership of 9 congregations and a handful of volunteers, the IRWS has scaled to include over 1,700 active volunteers, 40+ community groups and 30 college and high school interns. In only its second year of operation, the IRWS placed 6th nationally in the prestigious Great NonProfits Food & Shelter Awards. The IRWS operates on an annual budget of less than $10,000. Intentionally structured in a zero overhead model (100% volunteer led), all donations go in direct support of guest services. Beyond emergency shelter, the IRWS provides a homemade meal in a family atmosphere, transportation to 12-step groups, on-site health clinic screenings, art and yoga classes, and bus passes for legal and medical appointments. The IRWS serves as an innovative, financially-aware model for shelter that uplifts the goodness of God’s creation in every person. Due to its tremendous success, the IRWS has worked with other cities to implement similar programs in California, including Sacramento, Yuba City, Marysville and Rio Linda.

Allen Buchholz
Deaf International Community Church
Deaf International Community Church is a church tailored for Deaf of all denominations, their families, and anyone interested in the Deaf culture, plus Deaf outreach ministries.
The entire existence of Deaf International Community Church is an innovation unto itself. Unlike the world perspective that a Deaf person must be furnished an interpreter within their church in order to understand the worship service, our church service is conducted one hundred percent in American Sign Language (ASL) and we have a voice interpreter for any family members, friends, or quest that do not know ASL. All programs function using ASL and a voice interpreter, in order for the Deaf members to receive the Good News in their native language. Programing includes church service, children’s programs, youth programs, adult programs, outreach, Bible study with Deaf seniors at a local nursing home, tutoring Deaf Napali refuges coming into the area, and offering free counseling to the Deaf community and their families. We are a missionary church working the mission field within the Deaf community. We are using the innovation of a native language to bring God’s word to a people group and culture that has historically not been served or under served in our own backyard. As a missionary church working with a group that is mostly low social-economic status, seventy five percent of our budget is from outside donations. Providing a place the Deaf call their own, enables the Deaf to achieve autonomy, build their self worth and blossom into leaders. Maintaining a Deaf church has its challenges but each obstacle we overcome means that the Deaf can be Deaf in their own place of worship.

Donna Schaper
Senior Minister Judson Memorial Church
Congregation in Greenwich Village
Ashes to Ashes, Stardust to Stardust I do a couple of funerals or memorials a month for people I don’t know. I may do a couple a year from within our youngish parish of 325. Our demographic in Greenwich Village is aging and secular. We are a neighborhood as well as a metropolitan church. Thus many chief mourners end up at Judson and ask for a "service." During one such "outsider" service for a famous porn star, I found an innovation emerge from my mouth. I knew she was a star. I knew many of the people in the room were also stars. My innovation was initially a mistake. It is also a keeper. When it came time to end the service and to say the usual, "Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust," I said "Ashes to Ashes, Stardust to Stardust." Clearly I had been watching too much Cosmos, listening to too much Carl Sagan. I added the scientific understanding to that of the Chippewa. All genetic material is up there in the northern lights. We last by becoming stars. The several hundred people in the room were positively startled. They looked up from their piety. They smiled. There was comfort in the scientific revision of the old words. Since this interesting mistake, that came to me unconsciously, I have consciously changed my language in funerals and memorial services. People love the idea of becoming the Aurora Borealis. I have yet to hear a criticism, from members or friends.

Katie Hays
Piercing the Monotony One Workplace at a Time
We call it ’cookie evangelism.’ By showing kindness to low-wage workers, our church demonstrates the hope to which we are called -- our belief that God is ahead of us, calling us forward into God’s good future. Low-wage workers’ hope can be stifled by tedium, so we pierce the monotony by delivering gifts of homemade cookies to their workplaces on holidays and invented ’special occasions.’
When we read Rob Bell’s ’What We Talk About When We Talk About God,’ we were struck by the idea that God is always *ahead* of God’s people, calling us into a better future where life and joy and peace abound. This hope means that tomorrow is not the same as today -- and when we forget, God ’pierces the monotony’ with a prophet, a miracle, even a messiah. How do we, as God’s people, ’pierce the monotony’ in the world around us? We located ’monotony’ in our affluent, suburban town when we looked at the reverse commuters who drive in from the metroplex to labor at low-wage jobs in food service, retail, and other work that supports our white collar residents. How many made-to-order burritos can one person assemble in a day and not lose their hope that things will ever be different? Our ’cookie evangelism’ ministry is simple. People bake cookies, brownies, and other treats at home, delivering them to a central location for sorting and packing. We usually choose a holiday (Christmas Eve, Labor Day) and sometimes we make up an occasion (First Day of Summer! Last Day of Winter!). We pack cookies in bright paper in pie boxes. We include notes of encouragement in each box. Delivery teams go out with stacks of boxes and a map, delivering cookies all over town to fast food places, restaurants, hospitals, retail stores, and more. The reversal of the transaction is startling and joyful. ’What can I do for you?’ the worker asks the customer -- and then the customer holds out a box of cookies. ’Today, we have brought a gift for you.’ And we leave swiftly, not wanting to disrupt the flow of work or demand undue attention. It’s a hit-and-run of good news. We’re known to many as ’the cookie church.’ Some people have made their way to our church because of the cookies -- but mostly, we hope that at the end of a long day, a low-wage worker will tell his or her family about the cookies, and wonder hopefully about what tomorrow might bring, to the glory of God.

Sharon Core
Broken Hearts – Breaking Barriers
For whom are our hearts breaking? This is the question we asked as we moved outside of our building and into the community. We were a 100 year old congregation in an old building that isolated us from our neighbors. We engaged in a time of discernment, prayer, and bible study, as if we were starting a new church. In conversation with our neighbors, we listened to many people vital to the community—teachers, medical assistants, restaurant workers, service personnel—who are enriched by their ability to reside in the community they serve but could not afford to live there. Our hearts were breaking for them. God led us to see our property as an offering for the community.
The saints at Arlington Presbyterian Church are selling the entire church property to the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) to build affordable housing on Columbia Pike in Arlington, VA. We shifted resources to hire a full time mission developer. We hope to relocate to leased space in the midst of the new development to be a witness to Jesus Christ in faith, love, and service with our neighbors. This initiative is having an impact on our congregation, our community, and on our Presbytery. Our congregation is experiencing daily the costs and blessings of authentic discipleship on the journey. Our community will gain 141 units of affordable housing. Our presbytery is shifting its focus on "church" from property to people in ministry. Read and see more here:

Michael Neal
Glorious Light Church
The Glorious Light Church is centered in the love of Christ to encourage those who need to experience hope in the midst of an impoverished world. We are committed to help people experience God’s love through fellowship in our family atmosphere. Our outreach programs are designed to tangibly add value to the residents of the Bronzeville community while simultaneously giving glory to the God we serve. The Bronzeville Community has a rich vibrate history, and is currently in the midst of a great revitalization and through diversity, economically, generationally, and racially has made this area a fertile ground for innovative ministry.
As an extension of Glorious Light Church, the Timothy Community Corporation (TCC) was founded in January 2013, to strengthen the community. The TCC is focused on serving as an incubator by actively finding resources that will influence an individual’s physical, emotional, and spiritual life in the areas of: Leadership Development: Offering community members assistance in their leadership pursuits in the form of classes, seminars and workshops that expose individuals to leaders who will teach, train and model leadership principles. Current Programs -Girlz Rule – Mentoring program for girls ages 10-16 (academic excellence, self-awareness) m -Joanie Girls Heart – Mentoring program for high school sophomore to seniors interested in careers in healthcare -Real Men Read Bronzeville – A reading program designed for primary grade children -Financial Peace- Teaching fundamentals of money management . Health & Wellness: Through a holistic approach to a healthy lifestyle, TCC recognizes the "Art" to being healthy Current Programs - Zumba Fitness - Group Fitness Class (personal training) - Yoga - Mission Slim Possible - Oldways Heritage Cooking Class Creative Arts: Programs designed to enhance an appreciation of The Arts and support career aspirations of individuals of all ages. The previous events have been offered: - Music - Spoken Word - Dance Lessons Special Events: - King Day Celebration - Breast Cancer Awareness - Community Dinners - Family Health Fair Our ministry currently operates from a shuttered public school building, but we have transformed it to a place where all generations, all nations, share one light and one vision.

Jennifer Strickland
The Rising
The Rising is an alternative, arts-based worship service offered at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Lincoln, NE.
Creating a nativity mosaic using cut-up Christmas shopping ads. Making a cross painting out of our own thumbprints. Tying strips of cloth together to form ropes, symbolizing the saints who have gone before us. Anointing our wrists with scented oil, remembering the woman with the alabaster jar. Tasting bitter foods as we reflect on sin. Placing our written doubts into a giant net, reflecting on Christ’s call to "drop our nets and follow." Responding to the day’s sermon with freestyle painting on canvases. These are just a few of the ways we worship at The Rising, an alternative worship experience. We believe that engaging all five senses is an important way to encounter the Living God. This arts-based service is crafted to foster a community of worshipers who can touch, feel, taste, see, and hear their faith. We also provide "Creation Stations" for our youngest worshipers to create art while worshiping. Attendees of The Rising tell us it is truly a worship "experience," and that they are able to more deeply absorb the Scripture and meditation when they are invited to respond with their hands, feet, thoughts, words, and creativity. Members have told us that they have re-created the activities and art projects we do at The Rising at home with their families, kids, and friends. We believe that our God is truly a Creator, and that making art and using our bodies to worship are part of what it means to be created in the image of God.

Donna Schaper
Judson Memorial Church
Congregation in New York City
The context was a large upper class parish in Miami. Called the Coral Gables Congregational Church, it had as members all 600 of the progressive Cubans in South Florida. Or so we bragged. Another 1200 members joined them to make it the largest congregation I had ever served. I was working too hard. I decided to activate my two favorite hobbies, playing tennis and gardening. The tennis was easy. The gardening was hard. I had to learn tropicals after a life in the North. I passed the tests – for my flower arrangements and my succulents. I did not pass the all-Anglo, all white membership committee. It decided I couldn’t become a member because I might integrate the club with "gays, Jews, Blacks and Cubans," like I had done in our growing and thriving congregation. Members were allowed to invite other members. After leaking the rejection to the gossip editor of the Miami Herald, I published an article in the NY Times, questioning their wisdom. The garden club lost its free rent at the Biltmore Hotel, across the street from our church because the city feared a lawsuit based on discrimination. I was invited to join several dozen garden clubs around the country. I did not suffer the psychological burping so often associated with repressed anger. I got a movie offer. Even my congregants were proud of me, except for a dozen or so who were grumpy anyway. See May 3, 2002, New York Times., A Heretic Among the Hibiscus.

Donna Schaper
Judson Memorial Church
Urban Congregation
It was Christmas Eve on the East End of Long Island. The farmer had already had too much Christmas cheer by 4 p.m. The light was almost gone. He pulled up his truck in front of our church and dumped a lot of turnips on the front lawn. He told us they were for the "poor." My congregants were arriving for the first service at 5; the Sunday School was rehearsing its pageant. The parents were eager to acquaint the children with the baby Jesus who loved the poor and the small. That is why they were so easily deployed to put the truckload of turnips into the church basement. They wanted to witness as much as they wanted to get the dusty, earth-encrusted turnips, off the front lawn. The window to the basement was opened, under the stain glass window of the standing Jesus, and the turnips dirtied the hands and some of the finery of all who transported them. The turnips didn’t begin to smell until mid January. That’s when we decided on the turnip recipe cook-off. It gathered 100 participants, each of whom had to make a turnip dish in our church’s kitchen, and write out their recipe by hand, to enter the contest. My husband won the turnip cook-off with his exquisite turnip French fries. The runner up was a turnip chip. News 12 Long Island covered the extravaganza. The turnips never went to the poor. We didn’t have the delivery system. Instead we had fun.

Donna Schaper
Judson Memorial Church
Urban Congregation
I remember a quarrel with one of my wealthier parishioners in Riverhead, New York. She was the wife of the local congressman, who also owned lots of hospitals and real estate. She also made the best Manhattan Clam Chowder of anyone in the congregation. She had extensive social capital and capital capital. She wanted to put a carillon in the steeple. I wanted her to fund the homeless shelter in the building which housed 150 plus people a night. She refused. The carillon went in. It cost $10,000. The first night it played at 5 p.m. I ran into my neighbor who was the executive director of the Methadone clinic next door. She had tears in her eyes. I asked why. She said, "The music is so beautiful. It pierces the sky. It is going to help me get through the day." Houses of worship help people of all kinds get through their day. Often we do it by feeding them spiritually. Sometimes we do it by feeding them physically. One is not better than the other; indeed they are two sides of the same coin. When I add up all my mistakes in ministry, they usually bend this way. I get more interested in the material than the spiritual. The impact of the carillon teaches me how to confuse spiritual energy with material energy less – and how to really understand solar and wind and other renewable energies.

Nathan Hosler
Going to the Garden Initiative, Office of Public Witness
The Going to the Garden Initiative is a project on of the Church of the Brethren’s Office of Public Witness in Washington, DC and the Global Food Crisis Fund. G2G provides grants of up to $1000 to congregations to start or expand community based garden ministries to address hunger, food insecurity, and environmental concerns in their communities. Additionally, it works to connect local work with larger related system and advocacy issues.
Through the Going to the Garden Initiative we have supported close to 30 different congregations. These have ranged from developing composting bins to expansive gardening, orchards, and honey bees in the lower 9th ward of New Orleans. These gardens have also been developed in small towns where it has become a hub of community gathering to as well as in urban food deserts. In October we were joined by a Brethren Volunteer Service worker to help expand this program. In addition engaging with working groups on issues of international food security, the environment, and foreign assistance policy Katie has worked to establish a garden at our office which is based at the Washington City Church of the Brethren congregation on Capitol Hill. This garden will connect with the Brethren Nutrition Program to both provide fresh produce and act as an educational tool for issues of hunger and the environment from the local to the international level. G2G has a unique role of connecting local gardening to macro level advocacy while being based in locally embedded congregation. This ministry has not only supported both local and national level efforts but has helped to build bridges between what are at times separated areas of public witness. As such it adds weight to advocacy efforts and gives a broader vision of justice and peacemaking to local gardening and food efforts. Nathan Hosler Director, Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness (denomination) Minister, Washington City Church of the Brethren (congregation)

Thomas Willadsen
Community Breakfast
We serve a free breakfast one Saturday morning a month.
First Presbyterian Church of Oshkosh seeks to offer ministry from the Heart of Oshkosh with energy, intelligence, imagination and love. We have struggled to find ways to reach our immediate neighbors. Last year we decided to be more public and outgoing in doing what we love to do: preparing food and eating. We started offering a breakfast one Saturday a month. Everyone is invited. We know it is a successful program when we hear the cooks and the guests laughing together. Our slogan is, ’It’s free, and nobody will preach to you.’ The night before the breakfast each month, a church member visits the Warming Shelter and eats with the guests there and gives each one a flier with directions to the church. The shelter is three blocks from the church. The shelter guests who come to breakfast are greeted by name. In addition to cooks, dishwashers and place setters, we have volunteers assigned to eat with the guests and talk to them. Often they do far more listening than talking. The most profound impact this program has had is on our own members. They have come to see homeless, vulnerable people as individuals with names and stories to tell. The congregation is doing what it loves to do, and welcoming new people into our beloved building. The smell of pancakes and sausage, the sound of laughter and the bright smiles on every face remind us of Psalm 34: ’Taste and see the Lord is good.’

Frank Cerny
Pathways Christian Fellowship’s Rural Outreach Center
We have established an regional outreach center designed to meet multiple needs of the rural poor
Context: In 2006 Pastor Frank Cerny was approached to plant a church in Western New York. He insisted that, if done, the church must serve local communities. In spite of the fact that over 60% of area poverty is outside of the city of Buffalo there were no services in the local rural communities. Serving the needs of these communities became the vision for forming Pathways Christian Fellowship as a local mission post. Innovation: Monthly free community dinners provide a connection to the community and a place to hear personal stories of unmet needs. As a result, the, Pathways sponsored, Rural Outreach Center (ROC) offers one-stop services, e.g. social work, counseling, support groups, household goods distribution, in a faith based environment to families and individuals. The ROC is a beacon of hope in these distressed areas. The ROC avoids charity and operates to empower persons to move toward self-sufficiency, for example, by charging a small sum for household items and offering on-site financial counseling with a local credit union to establish savings. A cadre of trained individuals in the Social Work Assistance Team (SWAT) program provides long-term mentorship and accountability to those served. Impact on Ministry: The ROC provides an emotional, financial, physical and spiritual connection between our worshiping community and service. The church will not own a little used church building but will rent space from the ROC thus removing that burden and allowing the connections and vision to be sustained.

Teri Peterson
Palatine Presbyterian Church
Palatine Presbyterian Church ( is a suburban congregation, ~145 members, who are Found by Grace, Fed by Grace, and therefore Following by Grace. We have a real heart for our community: specifically serving those who live with homelessness and hunger, as well as at-risk children. As the congregation has aged, we have struggled with burn-out and stagnation.
In 2014, we simultaneously undertook a visioning process and a re-imagining of church structure. After many months of prayer, discussion, interviews with people both in and outside the congregation, and sheets of sticky easel paper, we discerned a new understanding of identity and purpose and a new way to organize the ministry we feel called to. All committees disbanded except Finance. We structured ourselves by the liturgical calendar: eight seasons of 5-8 weeks (Ordinary Time divides into four seasons). Each season has its own team of ~5-6 congregation members who study the lectionary for the season, discern a theme, then plan the whole life of the congregation around those texts and theme. Each team creates and plans for worship, fellowship, education, stewardship, and mission. We’ve "Left Home to Come Home," experienced "Unexpected," seen "Messengers of Light," been "Blinded by the Light," and tried to "Anticipate Grace: Share the Journey" through artwork, theme songs, studies, and new missions. During Easter we plan to "Practice Resurrection!" Six months in, we already see fruit! The congregation is more engaged. More people are participating across the board, and we are blessed by the ideas and creativity of many who were not previously involved. Teams are energized rather than exhausted. Congregational life is cohesive, centered on scripture. We see scripture-mission connections. We’re no longer tied to what we’ve always done, because we insist everything be connected to theme and text. We are growing more biblically literate, raising our spirits and our generosity, following God’s lead.

Kathryn Stenta
Won’t You Be Our Neighbor
A Ministry to be involved in the neighborhood without ulterior motives. Built off many events, with a completely volunteer church-run neighborhood Farmer’s Market as its centerpiece.
In 2010 New Covenant Presbyterian church’s last 10 yrs equalled 4 pastors, multiple splits, 60 aging members struggling to find God’s work. A new pastor, retreat and prayer--session found a call for local mission. For 18 months we invented ways to encounter the neighborhood. We held electronic recycling, ice-cream social, Halloween Trunk-or-Treat, free playgroup, clothing exchange, & concerts. Bringing in 20-40-60 people: the same range attended church, did not feel very "successful." But we started to ask different questions. How did God surprise us with success here? Stopped looking at numbers and started to see who was coming and why. Next, a missional Farmer’s Market. No ulterior motives, let’s just practice ministry of presence through staffing, running and sitting at the market. Let’s call it Won’t You Be our Neighbor? 400 people at the Grand Opening We were shocked. We recognize them: children from Nursery School, playgroup & Trunk-or-Treat, locals from concerts and ice cream social, and neighbors from E-Recycling & Clothing Exchange. Little successes, God knew, built to a big success. Strangers know us we are "that church with the Farmer’s Market." Fourth market, we are still learning. We build neighborhood spaces--free exercise, childcare, another playgroups, Community Gardens’ donations, BBQs, health fair, love bags, and art shows. We are renewed and transformed: we have decided to be involved in the community, to take the time to build relationships. We will practice love of neighbor, and ask Won’t You Be Our Neighbor?

Devon McAnally
Hearts for Care
Hearts for Care is a non-profit organization that seeks to provide Oklahoma residents the practical means and support to remain in their own homes and neighborhoods while continuing to live the best and fullest lives possible, as they grow older. The mission of Hearts for Care is to provide a ministry of sustaining compassionate presence and sensitive, practical assistance to individuals aging in place, regardless of age, income, or level of ability. Our goal is to make available supportive services that promote holistic wellness, keep people independent, part of the community and secure in their homes.
Hearts for Care endeavors to ‘be’ church outside the walls of church. We are building a community that offers caring connections to senior adults aging at home. Hearts for Care is a non-traditional ministry that goes to the people to create community rather than expecting the people to come to church. We are located in Enid, OK. In 2010, 15% of the 49,000 residents were over 65. We are affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) through the National Benevolent Association. Hearts for Care brings the love of Christ to individuals who often feel forgotten and abandoned. Lack of mobility prevents many lifetime churchgoers from connecting with their faith community on a regular basis. We rejoin God’s people to a faith-based community by providing presence, listening and opportunities for sharing through the development of lasting relationships. Hearts for Care provides connection and inclusion in a non-judgmental and loving manner to all people regardless of their faith tradition or lack of. For the elderly, managing daily tasks can be problematic. Hearts for Care brings the hands of Christ into the lives of older adults by offering resources that make life easier. We are a single source for information and support. Assistance is unique based on community resources and individual need. Aid is handled free of charge by trained volunteers. Help includes things such as welfare checks, in-home worship groups, or meal preparation. Verified service providers offer discounted services. Hearts for Care is about community, connection and caring for our neighbors.

Tom Caflisch
Town and Country Presbyterian Church (PCUSA)
Town and Country Presbyterian Church is a small town, small membership community of faith in Richland Center, Wisconsin.
Several years ago, seeing their small size as an advantage, Town and Country Presbyterian Church made the decision to move the regular Sunday worship, a few times each year, from their sanctuary to a community room at the local county care facility. This action permits church members who reside at the care center and other residents as well to share in a regular service of worship. Dubbed ’Worship On Wheels,’ this mission outreach has been warmly received by both staff and residents of the facility. The most anticipated visit each year for both church members and the residents is when Town and Country brings their intergenerational Nativity pageant to the facility on a Sunday close to Christmas. This mission outreach has had nothing but positive impact for all involved. Residents of the care facility are deeply touched that the church cares for them enough to bring the worship service to them. The residents especially appreciate the presence of children in their midst, as each service includes a time for children. Members of the regular worshiping congregation, both young and old, have a deep appreciation for sharing worship with folks that can’t get to the sanctuary anymore. It has also helped them look differently at themselves and their small membership. The congregation now is more and more focusing on the unique ways they can do ministry because of their smaller size.

William Buczinsky
The Ministry of Poetry
The ministerial power of poetry to help grieving families.
It is never easy for a child to cope with the death of a loved one. If that death is traumatic, involving an accident, a murder or a suicide, coping can be near impossible. For five years I have been using poetry to help grieving children and their families cope with their loss. Through a program called Heart Connection, hosted by Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park, I harness the power of poetry to help kids and their families work through their grief. Poetry may seem like a small thing, but it has wonder-working power! I’ve seen it in schools. I’ve seen it in churches. And I’ve seen poetry minister to kids mourning the loss of their loved ones. Through a variety of prompts, I inspire and empower young people to create poems of their own and give artful expression to their feelings. Sometimes the poems become elegies, sometimes songs of struggle, but they always bring healing and transformation. Ministers have long carried The Book of Psalms along with them during their hospital visits, but I’m going a little step further suggesting that people create their own sacred hymns as they walk through the valley of the shadow! Call Peg Schneider at Heart Connection for a testimonial to poetry’s ministerial power (708-229-5484). With this grant I would like to bring my poetry program to another hospital to help more children and families.

Ryan Althaus
Sweaty Sheep Ministries
Sweaty Sheep is a community of faith established around a passion for endurance athletics in Louisville KY. The group does have a weekly service, but prides itself on recognizing that a Sunday morning run truly can be our worship. We are a group that feels worship is not a passive experience, and thus we actively strive to experience God in all that we do; mission, play, fellowship, and prayer. For this particular submission, we are focusing on an innovative mission of our overall program and recent media coverage of the outreach can be viewed at either, or
Innovative. It’s a trendy word in the contemporary church, but if it lacks relevancy, passion, and/or faith, it’s an empty one. "Sweaty Sheep" is an "innovative" ministry seeking to help individuals grow in relationship with, and experience God through, a common passion for endurance athletics. Our most recent initiative proved that trusting God’s guidance allows innovation to naturally occur. Three years ago our team hosted a Christmas run/dinner/service combo that challenged participants to "chug" eggnog each mile of the 5k trot (people love a challenge!) We visited local shelters to invite the homeless community to our post-race dinner and service, to which they replied, "Can we do the run?" "Well, can you?" I asked. "Whatcha think we do all day while you’re sittin at work?" That Christmas 23 homeless "athletes" raced, ate, and worshiped as equals alongside some 400 of our runners. Energized by the experience we hosted a fundraiser the next year, and were able to give over 100 pairs of new running shoes to the "homeless" crew (a need revealed the prior year) and we launched "runPossible;" a mission that partners with local shelters to provide physical training, wellness/recovery based Bible studies, and mentoring to impoverished individuals. By matching local runners with at risk individuals, we allow volunteers to serve God through their passion for wellness and create relationships that cross economic, social, and denominational barriers. The program is growing exponentially and truly redefining mission, evangelism, and "innovative" ministry in our community!

Ricky Bueno
Frontline Street Intervention
Our mission is to PREVENT gang involvement, to PROVIDE gang intervention, and to PROMOTE social, spiritual and life skills development.
Just a few years after leaving prison, in 2007 I founded Frontline Street Intervention, a gang prevention/intervention NFP organization that serves Lake County. My passion is to see gang involved individuals transformed holistically by the gospel by using Christ centered programs and services that give our clients a sense of dignity, honor and purpose. Drawing from my own experiences and challenges that came with leaving a gang, such as loneliness, unemployment, and lack of a loving community; I began creating programs and services that may have deterred me from joining a gang when I was younger or alternatives that would help individuals seeking to leave the gang. In the gang culture, gang tattoos can often give you a sense of pride, a way to prove your allegiance to the gang, or a badge of honor. For many of the "homies" trying to leave the gang and move forward a gang tattoo can represent an old life marked by tragedy and violence. Gang tattoos can also be a hindrance in finding employment or they can put your life in danger from rival gangs. For those individuals seeking to break free from the gang life, we offer free gang tattoo removal by laser performed by a cosmetic surgeon. We cover the costs of this expensive procedure(s) that provide our clients the opportunity to remove the reminder of an ugly past, find employment and break free from an old identity. 2 Corinthians 5:17 "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation."

Laura Newby
Underground Seminary
Underground Seminary is an alternative form of theological education, providing an MDiv in an intentional community environment. We focus on character formation in our students and a post-colonial reading of scripture and understanding of our world today.
Underground Seminary is experimenting with a new approach to theological education. We affirm the continuing need for seminaries rooted in the university model to serve existing structures, yet see a need for daring initiatives to help prepare the church for the future. We hope to form Christian leaders who generate reconciling and life-giving community as a hopeful response to the alienation and exhaustion that people everywhere experience today. We see the dehumanizing effects of the neoliberal framework pushed by the US onto the world—economic exploitation, environmental destruction, and the degradation of mental, physical and relational health. Our curriculum seeks to bring understanding about the historical and structural forces at work, and decode the divide-and-conquer strategies deployed by powers to thwart change. An effective response requires leaders who can imagine alternative ways of life—in community housing, local economics, sustainable agriculture—all kinds of experiments in constructive sociality that may have broader implications. Our first student cohort lives together in a community house under a resident director’s guidance, and participates in the congregational life of Church of All Nations, PCUSA. Their training consists of intentional community living, study, work, service, worship, and play, modeled after Bonhoeffer’s seminary in Finkenwalde. We believe that a holistic discipleship process can foster in our graduates the capacity to respond to the desperation of our generation with passion and compassion, intelligence and resolve. Our program is designed not just for academic learning, but for the embodiment of courageous Christian witness in daily life together.

Janet James
The Gayton Kirk
The Gayton Kirk is a small PC(USA) church located in the west end of Richmond. The community is unique in its emphasis on incorporating art (in various forms) into its worship and the life of the congregation. In addition to its traditional 11:00 AM Sunday morning worship service, the congregation has services in the style of Taize and Celtic, along with a Jazz Vespers service.
Under the leadership of the Rev. Janet James, the Kirk has become a vital resource to the wider Richmond community. It has been the vision of Rev. James to orient the congregation’s life toward an embrace of creation, spirituality, art, and a deeply abiding respect for the ancient and contemporary worship practices of the Christian faith. Rev. James has worked to establish the "Kirk Community Center," which offers classes in spiritual writing, the study of comparative religion, understanding worship, critical biblical studies, among many other subjects. Rev. James also collaborates with congregation members to host professional plays/dramas - the Kirk’s own Three Penny Theatre, for instance - and exhibitions of the work of local artists. The Kirk has also incorporated jazz, poetry, and visual art into its weekly Jazz Vespers. Through their worship and the Kirk Community Center, the congregation stands at a unique position in the wider community. The community has responded positively to the creativity and hospitality present at the Kirk. Many people consider themselves "Friends of the Kirk," taking advantage of its many educational and worship opportunities while maintaining their attendance in other faith communities during the 11:00 Sunday morning hour. Many people who would not consider themselves religious, likewise, consider the Kirk to be a safe home in which they can engage their spirituality along their own journey. Considering its smaller size and limited budget, the Kirk offers an expansive avenue through which congregation members and community friends can enter deeper into their lives of faith.

Sandy Long
Director of Discipleship, The Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd
Director of Discipleship (with an emphasis on assimilation) in a mainline Lutheran church
Context: I hate the word assimilation but it is, after all, my highest objective. I not only want to see people move from periphery to center, I want to see ministries collaborate and create synergy. Our senior pastor asked me if we could get Lenten supper back in swing. I did. Then he said, "Let’s add one more. Let’s do a Love Feast- a potluck dinner where we provide the main course, ask the people to bring sides & desserts and then we finish with a communion service in a beautiful candlelit setting at individual tables." We are preparing to execute this on Maundy Thursday, but the sign ups provide evidence that we have used it innovatively to impact assimilation. As the culmination of five successful Lenten suppers, the momentum already exists. The sign ups are available at supper, on the website and via facebook. Add to that, a First Communion for 10 children just prior to the Feast which includes children from both the congregation and our community outreach whose families then are invited to the Love Feast immediately following. New members receiving personal invitations to attend, are accepting the invitation enthusiastically and being carefully placed at tables with those will keep the love flowing. New small groups, eight weeks into their relationship, are eagerly reserving tables together. Parents whose young adult children are just reentering the church are reserving tables together. Impact: the oldest Christian ritual on record becomes the most effective assimilation event of 2015.

Joanne Bond
Cross of Christ Lutheran Church
As Pastor of Cross of Christ Lutheran Church, I believe we are blessed to keep many young adults actively involved at church after they are confirmed. This essay briefly describes our post-confirmation ministry.
Pastors often complain that youth do not return to church after they are confirmed. They are no longer connected to the traditional educational youth programs, but they are not yet adults. The mid-to-late teen years often find our young people without a clearly recognizable identity within the church. At Cross of Christ Lutheran Church, we have developed an innovative way to keep youth connected to God and to the church through an active post-confirmation program called "Confirmandos". While in Confirmation class (7th - 9th grades), students are called "Confirmands". At our church, we have a title for post-confirmation students: "Confirmandos". Confirmandos are "armed with their baptism". They have a title, an identity….an identity within the congregation. Each Wednesday evening, two hours before confirmation class, "Hang Out Time" is held at Cross of Christ. Confirmands and Confirmandos play together, pray together, and share a meal. Attendance at Hang Out Time isn’t required for Confirmandos, yet they continue to come, strengthening the relationships born in Sunday school and Confirmation class and developing new relationships. Even those who don’t come to Hang Out Time stay connected to our congregation. Some serve as assistant coaches with our basketball program. Many still attend our annual Confirmation Retreat acting as Junior Advisors. Most importantly, Confirmandos attend church. Some even serve in liturgical roles such as assisting ministers, communion assistants, lectors and ushers. "Confirmandos" is an intentional way to give our post-confirmation youth an identity to live out their calling as baptized children of God.

Michael Plank
Underwood Park CrossFit
We are a New Worshiping Community whose vision is to offer our area a single place where the human needs for connection, spirituality, and physical health can be met in community with others, striving to live into the fullest expressions of humanity in the bodies God has given us.
Our physical existence is a universal part of the human experience. Bodies are as diverse as minds and souls; we live our lives in them. Ministry that engages our bodies invites a new understanding of our journey toward heaven on earth. In post-industrial upstate New York, incomes drop and obesity rates climb, downtown areas sit empty as shopping centers sprawl. In this time and place, Rev. Michael Plank and Lauren Grogan planted a worshiping community within a business that can financially support it. They opened Underwood Park CrossFit in Fort Edward, NY in November 2014, breathing life into a vacant building that has been central to the town since the late 1800’s. CrossFit is an exercise methodology that is gaining popularity because it creates a community where people explore their potential, meeting both physical and emotional needs. Members work hard to be healthy, support each other through struggles, and celebrate together in triumphs. At Underwood Park CrossFit on Friday evenings we gather for a unique blend of exercise and Reformed worship, empowering us as human beings and driving our ministry of making our community healthier in body, mind, and spirit. In the short months we have been meeting, members have made choices to redeem parts of their lives that have been broken, and to live into the fullness of the lives God has given us. The energy is contagious, the growth is tangible, the spirit moves with us through every pull-up, squat, and sweaty high five.

Nichole MacMillan
Bare Bulb Coffee
Bare Bulb Coffee is a creative mission project and new worshipping community sponsored by Flint River Presbytery, a regional governing body of the Presbyterian Church (USA).
The Context The project serves people in the fourth largest population center in Georgia, the Macon–Warner Robins–Fort Valley Combined Statistical Area, which is home to approximately 417,443 people. Within Warner Robins, the population is 50% White, 36.6% African American, and 15.6% Hispanic or Latino. According to the Association of Religious Data Archives, 51.2% of the citizens in Warner Robins claim adherence to a religious tradition. Of the total population, only 377 (0.002%) are affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The Innovation Seeking significant results with limited resources, Flint River Presbytery chose an innovative approach to evangelism and new church development. Instead of using traditional church planting methods, the presbytery founded a non-profit coffee shop that would become home to a new worshipping community. Designed to be a place of genuine welcome for all people, Bare Bulb Coffee is open seven days each week, hosting a wide variety of art and music events as well as daily book and Bible studies and weekly worship. The pastor of the worshipping community also manages the coffee shop and weekly events. The Impact Now five years old, Bare Bulb Coffee serves 1,100 people per week. Souls from all walks of life and religious backgrounds gather for coffee, conversation, culture, and to participate in local mission projects, Bible Studies, and worship.

Quintin Collins
Faith United Presbyterian Church
We are a 100 member multi-generational, multi-cultural, south suburban church whose community oriented congregation seeks to make an impact for eternity through sharing the love of Jesus Christ.
Most often, evangelism focuses on winning souls for Christ by bringing new bodies into the church—getting new people to come into the physical building. Yet this goal sometimes forgoes the teaching that church is wherever two or three are gathered in God’s name and that Jesus instructed His disciples to go out into the world and spread The Good News. At Faith United Presbyterian Church, we were once mired in the idea of pulling the community into the physical structure of our congregation. So one day, we asked ourselves, "What can we do to be a fixture in our community? What can we do to go out into our immediate world and let our neighbors know we are Christians by our love?" We decided hosting an annual Pumpkin Patch would be our medium for achieving this goal. Our objective wasn’t to quantify the results—count the number of new members we gained or number of pumpkins we sold through this ministry. Instead, we wanted to present ourselves as a place where our neighbors could gather, whether on Sundays or a few chilly weeks in October to listen to a small band, play games, share food, and have a good time. Each Pumpkin Patch season, we have made new friends, had fellowship with strangers, and come to have a deeper understanding of what evangelism means: bringing Christ to the world. Plus, should anyone in our community feel called to gather with us again—whether for service or any of our other ministries—they know where to find our open door.

Shirley Swagerty
Hope for Life Chapel RV Ministry
Hope for Life Chapel (HFLC) RV Ministry, serves the desperate, dechurched and unchurched people who live at an RV park on a permanent as well as short-term, transitional basis. Some have lost their homes, are going through divorce, are sick and need to be near a hospital, or because of their choices or other people’s choices–are in an upside-down emotional situation. Rev. Tamara John, ordained by PCUSA as evangelist, lives onsite in a custom-made fifth-wheel RV with a 12X10 chapel in the back. As director, she provides prayer and pastoral counseling, assists with needed resources and leads group gatherings. Certified as a responder in disaster relief, Tamara is also ready with mobile RV ministry when needed for deployment. The HFLC RV ministry has a passion for the lost and hurting and helps those in the community who have derailed in life to get back up and walk boldly in the way God calls them.
Last year, the innovative onsite HFLC RV ministry held community events including First Friday Fun nights, seasonal gatherings, group meals served 5 times a month, an Art and Creativity for Healing project, a community garden (Growing Together to Grow Together), 120 worship opportunities, and an RV maintenance/repair day. Numerous emergency gift cards for gas, food, medication and car repair were disbursed. Physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual needs are being met as personal relationships develop and grow. A drug dealer received God’s forgiveness and repented. Another man, a boisterous and heavy drinker, recognized his need to change when he saw the turmoil in a friend’s life that was a direct result of his actions; and after he was convicted by reading an uplifting article about God in the RV Roundup (a monthly HFLC newsletter specifically for the RV residents). He has dramatically reduced his alcohol consumption. People who live day-to-day under dark clouds of despair have begun to open up to Jesus’ love and engage with others. God’s infinite mercy offers them a glimmer of hope. They see that His great grace remains even when personal storms hit. HFLC currently reaches out to 144 residents. There are 99 RV spaces with 1-6 people per RV and 72 of those spaces are long-term residents who stay longer than one month. The impact of Hope for Life Chapel RV Ministry continues to be seen in the changed lives and better living conditions of the residents.

Julia VanderWoude
UrbanPromise Ministries
A faith-based, New Jersey nonprofit, UP was established to engage residents of Camden; programs are inclusive regardless of the religious beliefs or practices of participants. We seek to fulfill our mission—to equip children and young adults with the skills necessary for academic achievement, life management, spiritual growth, and Christian leadership—through several after-school programs and summer camps, two schools, job training, wellness programs, experiential learning and wooden boatbuilding, and a host of other programs that challenge youth to develop and realize their potential.
UrbanPromise Ministries has served youth in Camden, NJ, a city known for its failing education system and crime, for over 25 years. UrbanPromise has created a variety of cutting-edge programs that focus on building relationships with youth. Regardless of the program, we believe that a long-term supportive relationship with a child will have the greatest impact on their life. When Urban BoatWorks (UBW) was created in 2009 as a program of UrbanPromise, 5 students met a few volunteers in an abandoned church to build a rowboat. The initial project was designed to connect students to volunteers who could teach them shop skills and (most importantly) become mentors as they worked together. Five years later, 50 students gather weekly in that same church, now renovated as the Camden Shipyard and Maritime Museum, to learn the craft of boatbuilding. The platform of wooden boatbuilding to connect with youth is a unique ministry. UBW expects its youth to build incredible boats, and in doing so develop the character needed to succeed in life. The program has grown organically as staff have recognized the possibilities for mentorship and growth in a shop setting. Many UBW students lack contact with positive role models. Complementing that, most of UBW’s volunteers are older, successful people who are looking for deeper purpose in their lives. BoatWorks uses this dynamic to minister to youth and adults alike. The process of "rubbing elbows" as the team works fosters an environment where students ask big questions and adults provide wisdom while finding their niche in ministry.

Jennifer Aycock
First Presbyterian College Ministry Lake Forest
First Presbyterian Church, Lake Forest Suburban church ministry at formerly Presybterian Lake Forest College
Over the course of four years, our newly formed College Ministry developed evangelistic, discipleship, and mentoring relationships with students, collaborations with Student Services offices, and lecture engagements with various academic departments in order to develop a winsome witness of Christ in a post-Christendom context. We focus on being 1) relationally-driven; 2) lay/team-led; 3) embracing of campus diversity and elevating conversations about racial injustice in our church community. We took a year and a half to understand the context of ministry among students and within the church. We began by simply meeting with students one-on-one to discuss their spiritual journeys. We developed a College Ministry Team to develop vision, mission, and culture of the ministry. We developed spaces on campus and in the church for students to explore, experience, and express lifelong faith in Jesus Christ. We went to students rather than expecting them to come to us! The impact of the innovation Out of our learning, the following initiatives* were developed: - developed a team-led model of ministry leadership, equipping members of the church for ministry in and among students - welcomed students through student-centered and church-sponsored hospitality - walked with students into, and through their spiritual journeys - created collaborations with Counseling Center, Office of Intercultural Outreach, and Gates Center for Leadership and Growth to provide support for spiritual life on campus - organized weekly Bible study for student’s to engage their faith more deeply - made intentional space for students to participate in 1) mission trips, 2) children’s and youth ministries, 3) college ministry team, and 4) worship leadership *Keep in mind that we minister in a constantly creative and innovative context due to the transience of the campus and the nature of college ministry! Everything we do is an experiment in meeting people where they are to be found

Lacette Cross
Will You Be Whole Ministries
Will You Be Whole Ministries’ promotes wholeness by providing safe space for Black women and those who love them to reconcile their sexuality and faith through conversation, information and support.
We are living in a cultural milieu where sex reigns supreme. It is no secret that the church, generally speaking, has not provided safe space to have open and honest conversation about sexuality. There is a need to develop a sexual ethic that honors what we believe the scripture says, what the church has taught us, how we understand our relationship with God and what it looks like to live a committed Christian life. The work to reconcile our sexuality and faith requires engagement, conversation, and reflection. Will You Be Whole Ministries is an innovative ministry that seeks to boldly address sexuality from a Christian point of view. We accomplish this through an online community, a monthly Conversation Circle event and a quarterly Brunch and Learn event. The Conversation Circle is an innovative ministry practice because it specifically provides the needed space for Black women to discuss ways to be fully Christian and wholly sexual with other women. The Brunch and Learn is also a cutting edge ministry practice by viewing LGBTQ films with engaging conversation that focuses on the intersection of sexual identity, expression and activity and faith. Will You Be Whole Ministries promotes wholeness by bringing together sexuality and faith.

Robert Williamson
Mercy Community Church of Little Rock
We are an ecumenical worshiping community in downtown Little Rock, offering a place of spiritual community for all people, especially those living on the streets of our city.
Mercy Community Church of Little Rock seeks to build relationships of mutual hospitality across the traditional lines of housed / homeless. To this end, we have taken two steps that we consider innovative, though ultimately with deep roots in the Gospel. First, we have upended the "transactional" nature of many relationships between housed and unhoused by essentially eliminating money from our community. We operate with unpaid pastoral leadership in a space generously donated by a local congregation, and we offer no social services. We do not then come together as "volunteers" and "clients" but as partners and neighbors—as brothers and sisters in Christ—gathered together in worship for our mutual transformation. Second, we have created a ministry that is neither denominationally specific nor non-denominational, but multi-denominational, supported by an ecumenical coalition of churches, all of whom consider us a part of "their" ministry. This allows us to welcome people of many Christian backgrounds, all of whom feel like their tradition is represented and has something to contribute to the greater whole. We seek not to identify the "correct" way of being Christian, but to support and challenge one another as together we pursue the Gospel life. Our ministry is inspired by the work of our sister congregation, Mercy Community Church in Atlanta, with whom we would share any award.

Stacey Edwards-Dunn
Fertility for Colored Girls
Fertility for Colored Girls is a ministry that provides education, awareness, support and encouragement for African American women/couples struggling with infertility and seeking to build the family of their dreams. It also empowers women to take charge of their reproductive health.
Approximately 7.3 million women and couples in the US experience infertility. African American women/couples experience infertility at two times the rate as their white counterparts. Thus, the context of this ministry is African American women/couples who struggle with infertility throughout the US. Fertility for Colored Girls is an innovative ministry for the following reasons: - Only organization in the United States that focuses on providing holistic education, awareness and support specifically for African American women and couples struggling with infertility. - Provides weekly prayer calls on Monday mornings. - Ministers to the emotional and spiritual needs via live support groups in three locations (Chicago, Richmond, Va & Washington, DC and soon Atlanta, GA) - Partners with Churches to establish Fertility Ministries and Train pastors to minister to those experiencing infertility. - Has a Hope it Forward program that encourages individuals to donate unopened and expired medications to clinics for individuals seeking fertility treatment and can’t afford it. - Provides a Hope Scholarship (up to $10,000.00) for women/couples who can’t afford fertility treatment or adoption. Fertility for Colored Girls’ innovation has impacted women/couples as it has: - Created a safe space for women/couples suffering in silence and living in shame to be able to share. - Provided medication to over thirty women/couples who couldn’t afford meds. - Provided a free IVF procedure to a couple without insurance who lives in Mississippi who are now pregnant with twins. - Equipping Pastors and lay persons to effectively minister to this population. - Three locations in less than a year.

Pam MacArthur
Jerusalem Presbyterian Church
Small Presbyterian congregation 20 miles west of Milwaukee.
Lots of people like music – a lot. People involved with church, and those uninvolved, like music. That’s the awareness that led our 170-member church in Wales, Wisconsin (west of Milwaukee) to create a series of musical worship services. During Lent, we’re hosting guest musicians each Sunday, each "Singing the Faith" in their own style. They include: - Our congregation, singing a Welsh gymanfa ganu – sitting in SATB sections, singing the great hymns in four-part harmony, with the Welsh director who made us a choir telling the hymn’s stories along the way. - A bluegrass gospel group, singing the Good News in this uniquely American style. - And octet of women singing early music a cappella, including Gregorian Chant and music from medieval monasteries and abbeys – some of the earliest songs of faith. - A "Contemporary Christian" singer, sharing her own songs as well as other well-known praise music. - An African-American gospel quartet singing the Gospel, including songs that became part of – and then helped lift people out of – the experience of slavery. - On Palm/Passion our own choir will usher in Holy Week with a cantata that will include readers from the congregation. Each Sunday starts with a brief introduction, giving a sense of the history, style, and faith-emphasis they are about to experience. The groups have given us material for church history, music history – and some creative and thought-provoking worship services. Along the way, our average weekly attendance has increased by 20-25%, from the mid-70s to around 100, many of them repeat visitors.

Karen Barth
Empty Vessels Healing Ministry
Sacramental outreach ministry providing access to hands-on care and healing opportunities to those in need.
Our context is lack of access to hands-on healing. Since 2011, Empty Vessels Healing Ministry, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, has created a community where people live into their God-given wholeness. Called by Jesus’ healing ministry, utilizing our gifts and experiences, we create lively times and events that reveal the Spirit’s healing presence. Innovation? We integrate sacramental practice, pastoral presence and hands-on care. The story of Elisha and the widow, 2 Kings 4, guides our community practice. Calling on the Divine, creating sacred space, we offer ourselves as empty vessels. Ritually contemplating this story of limited resources increased enriches us as resources ourselves to welcome those in need. A resource community, we offer what we have. Opportunities include monthly healing services, contemplative meetings, on-line presence, and Open Hands Wellness Clinic, a twice-monthly, free clinic for complementary and alternative healing. In the past year we have provided over 280 healing sessions to 85 people. At a UCC fellowship hall, licensed and certified volunteer practitioners and pastor gather for meditation. We then provide community-style acupuncture, massage therapy, cranial-sacral therapy, Zero Balancing acupressure or healing touch. Integrally, clients practice guided prayer and meditation at altars in the same hall. In the waiting area clients create community, bringing food stuffs, providing rides, calling each other in times of need. Impact? Inspiration, hope and healing. The healing experience of each individual is amplified by that of those around them. Across the socio-economic and cultural spectrum empty vessels are filled and unexpected resources are discovered.

Julie Peterson
Brookfield Presbyterian Church Being Re-Invented by God
A PC(USA) congregation of 100 members taking a leap of faith.
In April 2013, Brookfield Presbyterian Church (BPC) recognized that in 5 years we will have difficulty financially sustaining our 53 year old congregation. Yet we have a strong desire to continue our ministry and missions. We want to live our faith journey together. How will we change things? That’s when the Holy Spirit dropped a thought on one of BPCs ruling elders mind at a board meeting of several local senior living communities. They are building a new senior living community in a neighboring community. Could we partner with them and purchase space attached to their facility, some of it as shared space and some dedicated to our ministries? This unique project was approved with amazing speed by all necessary parties. Since this decision, BPC has experienced increased energy in new ministry opportunities with new mission projects already begun. We have been blessed by God. Our property is for sale, new construction will be completed in November 2015. Three hundred fifty units with hundreds of people will have a PCUSA church in the building with the doors open. We are re-imaging our ministry. We will have opportunities to serve the many residents as well as the surrounding community. Our call is clear. 1Peter 1:3 "…By [God’s] great mercy he has given us a new birth into a Living Hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." We are now Living Hope Presbyterian Church of Menomonee Falls, WI.

LaDonna Nkosi
Ubuntu Global Village Prayer for the Nations
In the time of prayer at the sunrise over the Durban, South Africa shores of the Indian Ocean, I saw bridges of healing and restoration being built across the waters from South Africa to US America. We use technology - Facebook, Skype, global prayer calls & mobile apps to bridge pastors and leaders and change agents in collaborating through prayer and ministry for the healing of the nations.
Context: Based in Chicago, we build bridges of connection and partnership between churches, pastors and leaders between South Africa, Rwanda, the US and beyond. Innovation: Partnership building through Technology & Global Prayer Ubuntu Global Village Prayer for the Nations – Strategically employs technology, social media and mobile apps to link ministers and frontline change agents across nations. We connect a worldwide web of support, prayer and training to assist our partners and communities in growing and serving in and with God. We hold bi-weekly prayer meetings 1) Pastors and Leaders Intercession 2) #UnitedFridays Prayer for the Nations. Facebook,, skype and mobile technology have allowed us to link ministers and Christ followers for the healing of the nations. We hold Pastors & Leaders and Change Agents Retreats in Chicago, South Africa, and Rwanda. (In alternating years.) Central to this bridge-building, relationship-building ministry is the South African principle of Ubuntu which means "I am because we are" and "people are people through others." Impact of innovation on Ministry: 1) Increased levels of trust and connection. 2) Participants overcome global stereotypes and cultural isolation. 3) Use of computers, technology and communicating in English have helped in participants’ job preparation and schooling. 4) Chicago tech advisors and global techies are coming together to develop mobile apps to assist in prayer, mission and ministry across the waters. 5) In Chicago and the US, we have been able to use technology to make our work, communications and ministry together more effective locally as well.

Andy Greenhow
Broad Street Ministry
Broad Street Ministry ("BSM") is a broad-minded Christian community that cherishes creativity, fosters and nurtures artistic expression, extends inclusive hospitality and works for a more just world through civic engagement. BSM gathers every Sunday for worship and extends holy communion throughout the week through five weekly meals to vulnerable Philadelphians.
The Rooster Soup Company is a partnership between Broad Street Ministry and Federal Donuts (FD), a local restaurant serving donuts, coffee, and fried chicken. FD serves on BSM’s Hospitality Advisory Board, a group of restaurateurs and hoteliers that supports BSM’s Breaking Bread program, a best-in-class provider of meals and services (personal care, mailing address, clothing closet, nurses) to vulnerable Philadelphians. FD approached BSM with an offer to make soup using their chicken backs and bones and donate it to us on an ongoing basis to serve to our guests. The leadership of BSM, including our Executive Chef who prepares all our meals, countered that only serving chicken soup would get boring for our guests and that what we really needed was sustainable funding. We went back to the drawing board and came up with the Rooster Soup Company, a restaurant that uses FD’s backs and bones to make delicious soup, sold at a profit to the public, 100% of which profits are donated back to BSM’s Hospitality Collaborative to provide meals and essential services to vulnerable Philadelphians. Last summer, BSM and FD raised $179,380 through Kickstarter to open Rooster Soup and we are on pace to open this year. Money from the McCormick Prize would go towards opening this revolutionary new approach to ministry funding. It will serve the community, build awareness of BSM’s work, and provide a sustainable revenue stream to alleviate the suffering of vulnerable people. Thank you for your consideration.

John Vest
’Network Church’
For the past nine years I have served as the youth pastor of a large mainline Protestant church in downtown Chicago with a focus on adolescent confirmation and faith formation. In this call I have learned a lot about post-Christendom ministry. I will soon transition to a new call as the visiting professor of evangelism at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, VA where I will also work in collaboration with the Presbytery of the James. The ’network church’ model will guide both my teaching and my exploration of missional new church development for people not interested in traditional forms of church.
My biggest step forward in youth ministry was when I stopped focusing on attracting young people to church programs and began to think of church as a social network. The majority of young people who are confirmed in mainline Protestant churches stop participating after confirmation. Instead of trying to woo them back to programs they are clearly not interested in, the church needs to seek out ways to engage them in their own environments. My new goal is for youth to leave confirmation with a multi-generational network of peers and adults who will remain in relationship with them (regardless of traditional church involvement) and create opportunities for ongoing faith formation. This has changed my thinking about ministry in general. The church at large has failed to recognize that congregations are based on anachronistic social capital models. Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman suggest that "networked individualism" is the "new social operating system" of the 21st century. Instead of focusing exclusively on attractional or program-based approaches to ministry that will have limited results in a post-Christendom cultural matrix that we cannot realistically hope to change, the church must also invest in the religious and spiritual lives that people are actively cultivating beyond congregations. A network approach to ministry (in person and online) will most effectively take advantage of the social infrastructures operative today. "Network church" is a new model for youth ministry and ministry with "spiritual but not religious" people of all ages.

Nadia VanderKuip
UrbanPromise International
UrbanPromise International (UPI) was created to offer support for affiliate sites with a vision for empowering local entrepreneurial leaders to address the needs of their communities in their own cultural context. In seven years, UPI has birthed 8 international sites in Malawi, Uganda and Honduras as well as 3 domestic sites in Trenton, NJ, Charlotte, NC and Miami, FL. In total, there are 14 UrbanPromise sites worldwide with 54 after school and summer camps, 5 schools, 2 safe homes for children and nearly 4000 kids being served.
Developing Christian leaders lies at the heart of UrbanPromise International’s mission. Our UrbanPromise School of Entrepreneurial Leadership (UPSEL) recruits college graduates who are passionate about social change. Through a two-year fellowship in Camden, NJ, we offer fellows a unique blend of academic rigor and practical experience. A partnership with Eastern University enables all fellows to finish the program with a Masters in Organizational Leadership. They also will complete a practicum within our organization in order to develop requisite skill sets within youth outreach, donor relations, or executive leadership. UPI is a pioneer organization dedicated to resourcing local leaders who are on the front lines of ministry. In addition to offering valuable training and educational opportunities, we go one step further. The experience culminates with fellows creating ministry proposals to present to our Board of Directors. The most promising proposals will be granted the capital needed to offset initial start-up costs. UPI seeks to unleash the potential inherent within the world’s next generation of leaders by fusing educational opportunity with financial investment-an innovative approach that serves as a springboard for big dreams and bold ideas. 98% of our fellows have returned home intent on effecting change. They’ve founded 7 organizations, built 2 tuition-free high schools, started 2 orphanages, run community-wide feeding programs, led women’s empowerment initiatives, and created discipleship programs. Our experiences have shown us that the most potent means for transformation is through the empowerment of passionate individuals, and we’re committed to placing the right tools in their hands.

Vanessa Monroe
The Young Prophets
The Young Prophets is a Ministry to Teens at Covenant United Church of Christ, South Holland, Il, created by Rev. Vanessa Monroe. Subsequent Young Prophet curriculum has been created by Rev. Vanessa Monroe and Rev. Dr. Alison Gise Johnson.
The Young Prophets™ model is an innovative ministry birthed in response to suburban African American teens burdened by violence, mass-incarceration and low expectations. These youth are taught to critically consider the issues affecting their communities while developing their God-given gifts and talents to become advocates and agents of change. Believing that God had not forgotten this generation, Habakkuk 2 became mission and commission. Youth gathered according to their gifts: griots, performing and visual artists, and prayer warriors. They got busy believing God: researching, writing, dancing, drawing, singing and speaking a new vision. They chose two initiatives: food justice and youth violence. YP started a farmers’ market sourcing organic produce from local farmers. They declared war on the corner store opting for healthy alternatives. They served at the Chicago Food Depository, created public service announcements, wrote articles, and led the congregation in a mission against hunger. Aware that 700 youth had been killed in the city of Chicago since 2008, they dramatically informed the congregation, lead letter writing campaigns, researched gun legislation, visited local legislators, went to Springfield, testified in the Rotunda and refused to be dismissed by State legislators. They were re-energized when House Bill 1189 passed. Current YP now take the lead in our large congregation on matters of justice. A YP curriculum has emerged. A new YP chapter has been planted and funded in Chicago where plans are underway for an urban farm. YP participants have taken these critical skills of mobilizing and advocacy to their college campuses.

Barbara Heck
Bush Hill Presbyterian Church
Bush Hill Presbyterian Church is a multi-generational congregation of 325 in suburban Alexandria, VA with a long-standing commitment to architecture and music.
We are growing into a new identity as an arts ministry church. We want to create art installations in the sanctuary for every liturgical season. Our unique sanctuary has so many brick walls, so few windows (even the windows have brick in them), and very little natural light. The 5’ square windows (blocks of colored glass and brick) are high above the worshippers. The colored glass looks like a string of jewels stretching around the room. The sanctuary itself is square with the pulpit in one corner, the organ across the room in the other corner. Three sets of especially handcrafted wooden pews start in the third corner and arc around to the fourth corner. The room is very dark, the space inflexible in design, and it is unwelcoming. The walls are blank canvases that cry out for large works of art to bring light, suppleness, flexibility and spirit into the room. An artist in our midst wants to create Canticles, a series of 18 panels, using canvas, paint, and stitching. Each measures 5’ by 3.5’. This innovative series for Ordinary Time will wrap the congregation blues, yellows, and greens, as the panels depict the sun rising and setting around the room. The color in the panels will play with the colored glass in the windows. Members and friends will be invited to help the artist create these panels. The congregation will be invigorated; our identity strengthened, and will "go and tell." New people will want to "come and see."

Dan Krebill
Presby Cat collegiate ministry at First Presbyterian Church, Bozeman, Montana
The Context: Bozeman, Montana, population 40,000, is centered around Montana State University (MSU), home of the Bobcats, and its 15,000 students. After years of decline, traditional Presbyterian campus ministry at MSU closed its doors in 2008.
The innovation A parish-based collegiate ministry, "Presby Cats," began at First Presbyterian Church in September 2012 with 6 students. This fellowship of Montana State University students, now numbering 18-20, meets each Sunday. Lunch is prepared and served by volunteers from the congregation. The meal is followed by fellowship and Bible study led by students who receive a modest scholarship for providing this leadership. Additional events include fall and winter retreats and numerous social events. A spring break mission trip is a centerpiece of the entire Presby Cats calendar. Co-pastor Dan Krebill participates in all of the activities and provides pastoral, theological and administrative support. The impact of the innovation "Presby Cats" is having an impact far greater than the 18-20 students who have found Christian community on campus and a church home away from home. The students worship in the congregation and serve as musicians, liturgists, and ushers. Some are part of the Sunday school teaching teams. Twice a year they plan and lead the entire Sunday morning worship service. The spring break mission trips to Belize (2013), Ghost Ranch, NM (2014), and Palmer Home for Children in Columbus, Mississippi (2015) generate enthusiasm for mission within the congregation and in the presbytery. The entire congregation is enriched by the enthusiastic presence of this younger generation of Christians.

Justin Spurlock
Neighboring Hubs - Columbine United Church
Each person is a hub for God’s creative energy in the world. It is time to create faith communities around each person and around this idea.
Two years ago, Columbine United Church birthed the idea of neighboring. As a very progressive, ecumenical faith community, we know every person is a hub for God’s creative energy. What if we began to organize every aspect of our church’s life, vision, and strategy around this idea? Starting there, we began to look at the places where our members and participants cluster - neighborhoods, places of work, schools, and recreational activities. For 2015, we chose four of these clusters – an elementary school, a business network, a community college, and mountain weekend getaway destinations (here in Denver, everyone goes to the mountains on the weekends!). In each hub, we are doing one thing – being good neighbors. In the elementary hub, we will do acts of appreciation for the faculty and staff, provide coffee for parents as they drop their children off in the morning, and host parents’ night out parties for their children. In the business network, we will have business network lunches and events. In the local community college, we will be hosting interfaith conversations and spiritual exploration events. In the mountain weekend getaway, we will be throwing parties for skiers, hikers, and cyclists. We will do all of these because we know that each person and each cluster of our church participants are a hub of God’s creative energy working through them and with them. We believe that by coming alongside of them in these places of their lives, we reimagine church and mission in the world.

David Weil
HOGS stands for Hands of God Serving. It is a practical ministry where men and women serve the elderly, single moms and needy people with home related repairs/improvements
The HOGS ministry began in 2012 after a single mother asked the church for help. She suffered from a terrible neck injury. Her recalcitrant landlord was unwilling to step in to winterizing the ranch style home and finish the painting. She called the church desperate for help. In short order, members of Christ Church painted the entire interior of her home, installed blinds, and repaired the drafty windows. She was amazed and the team experienced a burst of joy and rich community in the process. As volunteers left her home, Phil Manley, a local builder, turned to the others and said, "We should start a new ministry called HOGS." Everyone laughed and asked what he was talking about. He said, "You know, Hands of God Serving." And so it was birthed. As HOGS has grown it has served many in need and expanded to help our under resourced neighbors in North Chicago with some ambitious projects, including the build-out of the Changing Closet- a resale shop, remodeling a food pantry in the North Chicago high school, remodeling a Waukegan church basement, and the installation of a new kitchen in the Waukegan office of Love INC (Love in the Name of Christ).

David Weil
Matthew Homes
The Matthew Home ministry is designed encourage home ownership, community and God’s love street by street in North Chicago.
Christ Church is multisite church with a vision to touch and transform the 10 miles around its steeple through the love of God. North of Christ Church is North Chicago, a community known for high crime, poor schools and 30% home-ownership. If a community dips below 60% home-ownership it often experiences decline. Recently Christ Church developed the Matthew Home Model to re-establish a sense of community and home ownership. In Matthew 5:14-16 Jesus encouraged his followers to be a light on a hill to those in need. Matthew Home families seek to love the neighbors on their street by getting to know them and caring for them in practical ways, as God leads. In response to God’s prompting, three Christ Church families moved into North Chicago. Christ Church is partnering with The Fuller Center for Housing. The Fuller Center is able to purchase and rehab a home for about $50,000. Fuller Home owners pay an interest free loan of about $600.00 over a 15 year period. The house cannot be resold until the mortgage is repaid. As home loans are repaid, new Matthew Homes will be added. For every 1,000,000.00 invested twenty homes will be established and another twenty homes added over 15 years. The short term goal is to rehab 30 homes in 4 years and place at least two homes on each street to build community warmth and ownership. A fourth Matthew Home was recently purchased by a Christian family formally renting in North Chicago. That’s the proto-type. The ground work is now laid for expanding God’s love in North Chicago.

Nora Wilburne
Good News Partners
Good News Partners (GNP) mission is to end homelessness and hopelessness, foster justice, and to build bridges of reconciliation. The Chaplaincy area focuses especially on the remainder of the mission once individuals become resident partners. GNP has 10 buildings consisting of an interim housing, single room occupancy hotel, co-oops, and below market rate rental units serving about 500 people.
Chaplaincy Ally Roundtable (CAR) is the spiritual vehicle used to fulfill the mission of Good News Partners. CAR consists of seasoned Christian ministry partners taking a deeper step of engagement with the Good News Partners Chaplain in order to provide practical support in actively praying for the fulfillment of the mission, identifying the gifts, talents and resources within each resident partner (Asset Based Community Development Model), communicating areas of celebration and need via ongoing relationship building. Each Ally is assigned to a particular building or group of individuals. CAR was developed out of a need to support the only fulltime Chaplain serving the great multitude of residents who desires there be no unmet need, no unearthed gift. The Allies consist of resident, volunteer, staff and donor partners of different races and ethnicities. They work collaboratively, commit for a year, provide coverage, and meet monthly to debrief and renew. CAR’s impact is felt by residents who are relating to each other more effectively, weekly coffee time with the Allies, individuals with administrative talent uncovered and launched to serve, stress relief and empowerment. Individual residents do not have to be Christians to receive nurture and support. The impact for the Chaplain has been spiritual warfare support, encouragement and discernment while leveraging strength and resources to the most critical in a timely fashion. Another impact includes residents who were not engaged outside of renting from GNP beginning to see where their gifts can be used for the good of the community at large.

Jamie Frazier
The Lighthouse Church of Chicago
The Lighthouse Church is an urban congregation of mostly, ’dones,’--those who have left The Church for various reasons. We are a Multi-ethnic and LGBT-inclusive church that is, ’passionate about Jesus and serious about Justice.’
The Lighthouse Church launched its ministry in downtown Chicago with and among, "dones,"—those who were once a part of a Christian church, but for various reasons left. We reach, "dones," by inviting them to a weeknight event, "Thursday Nights Together." During, "TNT," as known by most, participants spend 90 minutes together singing uplifting music, then 3-5 minutes watching/listening to a multimedia clip, engaging in a 30-minute discussion, participating in an interactive 20-minute inspirational message, and finally joining in on a group financial offering sealed with a closing prayer. We dub this ministry innovation by the acronym—WE DIG. For we believe that the key to new faith communities, as well as revitalizing existing ones is— (W)orship, (E)ntertainment, (D)iscussion, (I)nspiration and(G)iving. Each month we speak to a different highly evangelistic felt need—ranging from how to build healthy relationships to financial stewardship/money management to how to interpret scripture liberativley. We stress multi-ethnicity, justice, worship, and community. We started this innovation with only $100 and four people. We are thrilled that within two years our faith community has reached hundreds of people, currently has 50 actively committed folks, generates $30,000 in annual support, and has birthed an exhilarating Sunday morning worship experience. Increasingly, The Church is facing dwindling funds and a spiraling amount of, "dones," across America. The Lighthouse feels that, WEDIG, is an innovation that requires only a few people and limited money, but can produce fast and significant results in church planting and church growth.

Rodney Walker
Restorative Justice
Grace Calvary UM Church has partnered with the Cook county Juvenile Probation Department to provide a mentoring program for juveniles who are on probation and live with the 60620 zip code of the church’s mission field.

Emily McGinley
Urban Village Church: Interfaith Partnership for Dismantling Racism and Working Toward Justice in the City
One of Urban Village Church’s core commitments is to be a "Church Without Walls." For us, this means seeking to be actively anti-racist and work toward racial reconciliation. This, along with our commitments of faith in action through service and justice – as well as the increasingly explicit anti-Muslim rhetoric of public figures – have led us toward beginning a relationship with the Inner-city Muslim Action Network (IMAN), an organization dedicated to combatting anti-black racism and working toward the upbuilding of the south and west sides of Chicago. While we practice different faiths, our commitments to building a city where everyone has the opportunity to flourish are rooted in a common God who speaks clearly to this vision in both of our traditions.

Nate Phillips
FIRST (Freeing the Imagination of the Recently Seminary Trained)
FIRST (Freeing the Imagination of the Recently Seminary Trained) offers part-time, three-year positions to recent seminary graduates who will start new worshipping communities. We are intentional about pairing young, diverse leaders with contexts that the mainline have ignored for too long.

Devon McAnally
Hearts for Care
Hearts for Care is a ministry affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). We consider our ministry to be an ecumenical and collaborative ministry that invites all who have a passion senior adults to participate. We are about creating a shalom community where all are welcome, loved, and cared for.
Age-Specific Ministry

Debbie Buchholz
Deaf International Community Church
I have founded a Deaf church.

Jennifer Strickland
Turning Pages
Turning Pages is a book club consisting of church members and inmates at our county jail. We meet at the jail on Monday nights for an hour and work our way through novels and life together.

Rev. David Wallace
Innova Worship
Innova Worship is a creative, welcoming Christian worshiping community where worship is the work of the people. Innova calls forth diverse gifts in worship such as music, dance, poetry, art, preaching, and more to the Glory of God. Our worship helps form disciples of Jesus Christ which calls us out into the world.

Facebook: Innova Worship

Twitter: @innovaworship

Web Site:

Instagram: innovaworship


Matt Overton
Columbia Teen Enterprises, Mowtown Teen Lawncare
What we have innovated is actually four independent but related ministries that are highly innovative. They cover these bases: intergen ministry, mentoring, jobs and job skills, young adult ministry, technology, evangelism, outreach, socio-economic reconciliation, and leadership development.

Debbie Buchholz
Deaf International
Working with Deaf refugees.

Laura Martin
Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ
Rock Spring UCC is a vibrant UCC church located in Arlington, VA. The following are our core values:

An Inclusive Community

We recognize that all persons are an integral part of the human family, created in the image of God. We strive to be a place where all people know they are valued for their unique experiences and gifts. We actively seek to include everyone around our table.

A Caring, Generous Community

We recognize that people of all ages and in all communities have both needs and gifts. We are committed to sharing with each other, and with our neighbors in the community and around the world, the talents and gifts we have been given.

A Learning Community

We are curious, open-minded people of all ages who meet to nurture our intellectual and spiritual development. We help each other listen for the still-speaking God.

A Justice-Seeking Community

We seek justice and peace through building relationships and through making small, deliberate choices. We advocate for individual human rights, and social and ecological justice. Together, we seek to bring about the world that God intends.

A Faith-filled Community

We approach faith and worship in many different ways with respect and a desire for engagement with other traditions. We strive to use our Christian faith to guide our decisions and our actions.

A Joyful Community

We are grateful for the gift of life and for each other. Fun and laughter are woven into the fabric of our lives together. We strive to bring a spirit of joy to all that we do.


Donna Schaper
Judson Memorial Church
Urban congregation, arts Center and Social Action Center

Donna Schaper
Judson Memorial Church
Urban Congregation, New York City, arts center social action Center

Bill Buczinsky
A Child’s Voice
I harness the playful power of poetry to build literacy and help young people develop their own voice.

Robby Olson
Beer Church
As a local pastor building a community of Spiritual But Not Religious, I need an opportunity to engage the SBNR, as they are not willing to come to church. As a homebrewer, I have discovered an organic community of SBNRs willing to gather with me and discuss/explore spiritual matters under the guidance of a Christian pastor.

Dawnn Pirani Brumfield
Who I Am is How I Lead Program for Transformational Leadership
Who I Am is How I Lead Program for Transformational Leadership is empowered to provide leadership training for pastors, ministers and lay leaders.

Rev. Jen Strickland
World On a Plate
World on a Plate is a monthly dinner club that meets to discuss what the PCUSA mission co-workers are doing around the world. A freewill donation is collected each month and sent to the co-workers to use in their ministry.

Donna Schaper
Judson Memorial Church
Urban Congregation, Center for Arts and Community

William Andrews
Prison Lectionary ( is a virtual space devoted to biblical interpretation by artists and authors incarcerated in jails or prisons in the United States. The purpose of this endeavor is two-fold. First, Prison Lectionary provides a forum for the voices of prisoners, who are the most authoritative witnesses to incarceration. Second, Prison Lectionary serves as a repository of information for pastors and others as they study the Revised Common Lectionary texts and other Scriptures.

Kenneth Kelley
Metropolitan Baptist Church
The Metropolitan Baptist Church is Worshipping the Christ, Witnessing with Compassion and Welcoming the Community through evangelism, education and exaltation.

Rev. Joanne Bond
Cross of Christ Lutheran Church, Babylon, NY 11702
At Cross of Christ Lutheran Church we are blessed to have a special youth ministry program which enables us to keep active in ministry some of the youth who have been confirmed at our congregation. We thank God for our "Confirmandos", and the leadership and church involvement they provide for us. We do mission projects, and feel blessed to encourage these youth in the faith, and see them witnessing for the Lord at our church.
Age-Specific Ministry

Adam Malak
Faith United Presbyterian Church
small, suburban congregation

Allen Brimer
Farm Church
Farm Church is a new worshiping community of the PC(USA) that nurtures disciples of Jesus Christ on a farm while leveraging all of the resources of that farm to address food insecurity.

David Weil
Matthew Homes
Matthew Homes are homes occupied by Christian families who moved from rental to home ownership. Families own their home and take ownership for loving the neighbors on their street (Matt 5:14).

Nathan Hosler
Brethren Nutrition Program
A soup kitchen in Washington DC serving to provide meals and connect the community.

Rev. Dr. Sanja Rickette Stinson
Matthew House Inc of Chicago
Matthew House is a daytime supportive service center for homeless men, women children and families who are experiencing homelessness. Matthew House’s services include: case management service, job readiness training, two hot meals, shower services, healthcare, housing assistance, and more. Matthew House feeds an average of 55 persons daily, six days a week. Located at 3722 S. Indiana Avenue- Chicago, I., it was founded in 1992 are the only daytime supportive services for the homeless. Even after 2013 closure of over 15 day centers servicing the homeless, Matthew House has remained standing as one of the only Daytime Supportive Service Center serving a non-gender specific population. Its services have expanded to providing housing, job readiness training, serving ex-offenders and so much more. Currently, celebrating twenty-four years of providing homeless services the organization, Matthew House still believes and fosters that everyone deserves a place to call home. We will continue our efforts until we greatly reduce homelessness in our society.

Ryan Bradney
First Presbyterian Church, Winchester, Kentucky
First Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) is in the heart of Winchester, Kentucky, a small city with 18,000 residents. In the last decade, Winchester, and First Presbyterian Church have both suffered decline and difficult transitions.

In Winchester, we grieve that: more than 25% of children live under the poverty line, unemployment, homelessness, drug use and addiction are rampant, and only 18% over the age of 25 have a bachelor’s degree.

During the previous installed pastor’s ministry, the church became embroiled in conflict and suffered significant loss in membership.

Among its strengths, members of First Presbyterian have a storied history of local mission. In recent years, we realize how fragmented our mission efforts have become. I grieve the times that we have missed opportunites for collaboration with each other and with the community.


Gigit Villacreses
Proyecto Vivire
Proyecto Vivire (PV) seeks to reflect the love of Christ by comforting, education and empowering families facing cancer. We understand when a family member is diagnosed the entire family walks the journey in different ways.

Jeanne Davies
Parables Community
a worshiping community of belonging and empowerment for children and adults with special needs and their families

Karen Jackson
The PrayGround at Faith Presbyterian Church
Faith Presbyterian Church, Greensboro NC - Small, Suburban church. 60 members. majority 80 or older.

The PrayGround - worship space for children and active learners of all ages.


Katie Hays
It Gets Better at Galileo Church
It Gets Better is a regular meeting of older teens and young adults for conversation around LGBTQ+ identity, sponsored by Galileo Church.

Rev. LaDonna Sanders Nkosi
The Gathering Chicago
The Gathering Chicago’s clergy ministry:

Intentional and purposeful ministry and prayer to and for God’s servants - including clergy, pastors, and intercessors.


Al Lopez
UrbanMission is an exciting new church in the city of Pomona, California that has made a positive impact in the community by approaching church planting as several interconnected ministries collaborating as one church.

Carmen Collins
Wives United in Prayer
Wives United in Prayer; a faith based, innovative not for profit organization was formed to provide a unique approach aimed at uplifting and empowering Christian married women and strengthening their marriages. Wives United in Prayer aims to support its members, provides resources to the community, and offers unique and fresh events to benefit Christian married women.

Rev. LaDonna Sanders Nkosi
Ubuntu Reconciliation Journeys
Ubuntu means "I am because WE are" and "people are people through others" and is the African principle of restoring dignity and humanness. Ubuntu Global Village International hosts Ubuntu Reconciliation Journeys to South Africa to build unity and foster collaboration for healing from racism and reconciliation.


Beth Brown
Lincoln Park Presbyterian Church
Lincoln Park Presbyterian Church is located in the now-wealthy neighborhood of Lincoln Park in Chicago. LPPC has a rich history of being on the leading edge of social justice issues in the PC(USA) as well as in Chicago. LPPC has been an incubator for several non-profits, including the Night Ministry, Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, and the Lincoln Park Community Shelter. The congregation experienced a membership decline in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. After a pastoral transition, the congregation is revitalized and growing spiritually and in vision. The LPPC motto has always been "we are small, but we can do great things with God’s help."
In April, 2016, after an 18 month process, the congregation voted to adopt "The Compassion Project" as its future vision. Since then, that vision has taken shape with small and large projects. The first project we launched was a "Vigil Against Violence" with Che "Rhymefest" Smith as our featured speaker/performer and a visual display of all of the youth victims of violence in Chicago. The second was "Make a Connection Mondays" in which we invited the community to make connections with people they didn’t know. The large project is ongoing. We are creating a technology platform for crowdsource funding for organizations and faith communities in which they can do good in the world and work toward financial sustainability. Our new not-for-profit entity will host the platform. The first campaign to be launched is what we are calling "the bond fund." Our goal is to raise one million dollars which will be used for paying the bonds for people who cannot afford to pay, until monetary bonds are discontinued. This campaign will be the model for other organizations who want to be a part of an online community of people who want to do justice by giving to justice-related causes and/or who want to launch their own campaigns (if accepted) to do justice. The impact has been renewed sense of purpose, many new partnerships in the community and will be greater financial sustainability for the congregation and keeping people who are poor out of jail.

Marc Nelesen
Georgetown Christian Reformed Church
I am a pastor of a congregation situated in a bedroom community outside of Grand Rapids, Mi in what has been a historically rural area. I have served there for ten years.
Georgetown Church is a middle-age, Calvinist congregation of 800 members. They are an unusual blend of suburban, upper-middle class folk who intersect an established, rural, blue-collar, community. These worlds could not be further apart; one group showers before work, the other, after. Both groups are strongly opinionated – and suspicious. Somehow, they muster ways of having profound loyalty to one another. They willingly suspend – and will even surrender – prized positions for the sake of their fragile, organic unity. Pastors preside over these astonishing juxtapositions.

So how does a pastor join, and join together, the loose threads of these divergent worlds? Every Thursday – like clockwork – the entire congregation receives a WEmail; a simple, pastoral email that offers an interpretive summary of our life together that week. Its ethic is simple: it is neither bulletin, nor calendar, nor announcements, nor promotion. Instead, it is an intentionally distilled, pastoral moment that orchestrates attention to the most important things in our life together - and it does so on a day other than Sunday.

What is the fruit of this simple practice? Over time, the congregation has come to trust its predictability and reliability (they miss it if its late!). The WEmail is a way for the congregation to be together without physically showing up. The congregation feels connected and “in the loop” in ways that primes them for Sunday’s gathering. In a world of rumor, fake news, and e-vandalism, a pastor’s WEmail is good and welcome news they can trust about our life together.

William Mason
Steel Lake Presbyterian Church
Missional church working with the aging community, their families and caregivers.
God called our church to a radically different ministry in 2016. God called us from an inward facing,traditional ministry, to an outward facing missional church serving the aging community (50+), their families and caregivers (professional & familial)in our city.

The ruling elders evaluated everything they had been doing including worship, programs, and the building. They launched the new mission in May 2016 (depicted on the web site pics loop one month later expanded the ministry to two more campuses. Worship was extended to two retirement communities where communion and worship is held three Sunday’s each month. Activity directors have asked the church to provide pastoral care to their staff and residents. They asked our ruling elders to co-sponsor care giving support groups.

The session entered into a conversation with the congregation about selling the building of the church. Session discerned in prayer and discussion that the 46,000 square feet of facility was not going to help them reach out into the community. They recommended the sale of the building to right size the building with the congregation (105 members). The congregation and Presbytery of Seattle have approved the sale of the building. The church is currently in contract to sell the building for 3.75 million, which will go to relocation and the mission of the church.

Additionally, mission projects created by members include Audio book ministries to group homes where members take an audio book into the group home to show people how to use the tape machines while initiating a relationship with the home residents.

Our people are energized, excited and renewed. They trust their elders and believe in the mission. Our 2017 budget is fully subscribed, a first. Many say they have never seen spiritual leadership from session like this. We anticipate adding staff to help us work exclusively on mission and forming a non-profit.

David Charles Smith
Jordan United Church of Christ Peace Garden
Our church has a lovely 2.5 acres Peace Garden with walking trails, a rock garden, a circle of fire, and other beautiful features. It is under-utilized, and we’d like to change that!
Even in the burbs, we live with diversity and pluralism. When a member of our church died and her property went up for sale, the Islamic Education Society of Eastern Pennsylvania bought the land and home. Who is our neighbor? The Muslims, which is a very different reality the generations since 1752 when our church first moved to our current location.

We are strangers to one another, and for peace with justice to be real in our world, we must share time and experiences with those we don’t understand. So our hope is to improve the Peace Garden area, and invite our new neighbors to events where the agenda will be to "get to know one another." We’d also like to invite speakers to address ecumenical and interfaith issues, and open these events to our wider community. We already have the benches---we a website, Facebook presence, and other advertising, we’ll actually have lots of people from differing backgrounds sitting on them---next to each other!!

Stephanie Salinas
First Baptist Church of Westwood
Community After-School Programming for "The Regular Kid."

FBC Westwood, MA is an American Baptist Church in the suburbs of Boston.

First Baptist Church of Westwood, MA is a small mainline American Baptist Church in the suburbs of Boston. Feeling the call to better reach our (mostly upper-middle-class) community, we did a community listening project. We heard through that project that what our community needed was programming for the “regular kid.” In our community, there is a small percentage of youth who make the varsity teams, get the leads in the plays, etc. The rest get left out. Parents also lamented they never have time to teach their kids basic home and vocational skills (cooking, sewing, automotive).

So, we started after-school programming according to the school calendar. We teach sewing, cooking, and other skills. We include basic morality and faith lessons. We structure our programs to include mission outreach. (For example, in one sewing class we partnered with Project Linus© and made quilts for children in hospitals.) Our congregation has recently begun a pen-pal program between church elders and youth in the program.

The program has been well-attended and growing. We have even hired a part-time associate pastor to expand and run the program. Elders in the church volunteer, and the unchurched youth adore them.

Our future goals for the program include: increased faith conversations as the youth become more comfortable with leaders and each other; adding new skill sets to the teaching curriculum; and greater integration between the after-school programming group and the Sunday morning worship group.

Caroline Cerveny, SSJ-TOSF
Digital Discipleship Boot Camp
An online formative experience for ministers to assist in their digital formation for utilizing technology in their ministry.
Digital Discipleship Boot Camp (DDBC) began summer of 2011! An opportunity for ministers to gain the skills and knowledge needed to become a Digital Disciple. Why? We often hear about many popular digital tools such as Facebook, Twitter, websites, webinars, and mobile devices. However, often we do not know how to use them. DDBC will train participants to effectively use digital tools in their ministry. We live in a new culture and language where new skills must be learned to teach and evangelize today.

Our mission - shape and form Digital Disciples. 300+ ministers have participated in DDBC now “walking the walk, and talking the talk” in today’s Digital Culture.

We have trained ministers from 40 states, New Zealand, Portugal, and Canada. We began training with a group from the Saint Petersburg Diocese and quickly realized that we could train others online by using GoToWebinar, a Class blog, and a Wiki.

Participant comments that mark our success:

These wonderful new exciting and challenging tools are gifts from the Holy Spirit to help us bring “Good News” to those we are evangelizing-with them we can “Open the Door of Faith” even wider. Alison Smith, Director of Children’s Formation, St. Henry, Dayton, Ohio.

I feel I was so far behind on the knowledge available, but now I can see some light at the tunnel towards enlightenment. DDBC is the tool to ministry. Ed Reising, Deacon and Pastoral Associate for RCIA and Adult Education, St. Joseph, North Bend, Ohio.

More info -

Amir Tawadrous
World Around Us--Southridge Presbyterian Church
A program was designed to connect the church with many different ethnic communities around the church.
Amir Tawadrous, a Coptic (Egyptian) Presbyterian Minister, serves two small congregations in Kansas City, Ks. By the time, I started my minister in 2015, the country was about to enter the presidential elections in U.S. The time was quite difficult and left its impact on many individuals and communities. On the church side, I encouraged my congregation to think of its mission as an example of Unity to the community, neighborhood, and society. In response, we hosted over 40 different ethnic groups in the neighborhood.

World Around US—a program we created to educate ourselves about the families in the neighborhood, to whom I may call “People of double identity.” Twice a month, on Wednesdays, one of the ethnic families would come to give a presentation about their home countries and their life in States. Along with the given information, a time for sharing cultural music, food and pictures connected our humanity on its deepest level. Nine new members joined the membership of the church. Six of them are from three different countries: Egypt, North Sudan, and Syria. Indeed, it was a joy. Yet, January 27th came very quick.

The president’s executive order has left my congregation full of worries about the Suddenness and Syrian members who had not yet received their Green Cards. The database Mission-In and building connections with different local organizations offered great help on supporting the new immigrants. World Around Us became a chance to discover the diversity and lay hands of blessing on people’s future.

Jennifer Riddle
Mary and Martha
Multi-age women’s ministry of The Living Room (a small non-denominational congregation with little administrative structure)
One of the ways we’ve increased fellowship, discipleship, and evangelism among women in our congregation is by getting together for rotating, monthly, small group dinners (usually fewer than 8 people) hosted by women in their homes. Though many of the women in our congregation are married mothers of young children, single women, those without children, and older women feel welcomed in this environment. During dinner, 4 thematic conversation questions are posed that have a spiritual or scriptural bent. Through these questions, women have gone beyond the "Sunday School answers" often bred by typical Bible studies and surface-level conversations that tend to focus on life-stage concerns. Mary and Martha table groups have fostered greater connection between women in different life stages, created a non-threatening opportunity to invite women outside the congregation, as well as deepened relationships with one another as self-disclosure among participants has increased. This ministry occurred monthly for 17 months as of March 2017.

Pedro Silva
Embracing Conversational Risk
Our Congregation creates social experiments for the local community to openly discuss challenging subject matters. The sessions are designed to incorporate multiple points of intersection between people while approximating what it would feel like to have a spontaneous encounter with someone of an opposing view.
Our gatherings are co-facilitated with people unaffiliated with our tradition in order to expand the welcome. Ground rules include such points of consideration as, taking responsibility for your words, assume positive intent of your partners, invoke the “ouch rule” if necessary, and always draw inclusive circles of engagement.

In conversations, the participants are encouraged to skip introductions and simply jump into the dialogue. The rationale is that any conversations of depth naturally incur some form of risk. Introductions typically are a method of determining whether one is safe to express themselves. By forgoing this, the participants gain a sense of what it would take to respond to conversations of depth in real time where establishing “safety” may be more difficult.

Original music, meditation, and poetry covering the subjects were integrated into the program in order to convey the many creative ways that difficult subjects can be approached. The intent is to empower people to get creative in how they might consider bridging difference.

Our next program will address the question, “Can one be racist in the dark?” In this program we will converse in total darkness as a method of challenging racial bias.

As a result of these experiments and other community engagements, our church is getting a reputation for being a place where challenging conversations can happen. We are now being approached by other organizations, such as a burgeoning NAACP chapter and Living Room Conversations to partner in educating people in conversational skills.

Monica Banks
New Communion: Mobile Market & Pantry
New Communion: Mobile Market & Pantry is a faith-based organization with the goal of enhancing community relationships and diminishing the impacts of hunger/food insecurity.
Like many Disciples congregations, First Christian Church in Winston-Salem is affluent, educated, and aging. Median income for the zip code where the church is located is over $100,000, while the median income in the surrounding Forsyth County as a whole is $45,809.1 Even more telling of the socioeconomic disparity, there are tracts within the county that have a median income of less than $18,000 per family. Although, our church supports local services in Forsyth County related to poverty, we also wondered, “Is our community experiencing the abundance and wholeness that God intends?” As “people of the Table” we understand communion not only as a religious ritual meant for worship and fellowship, but as a practical matter of meeting physical needs.

The name for this work became “New Communion Mobile Market & Pantry.” We believe that the communities we serve are rich with gifts and assets that will not only provide resources to the micro community of the neighborhoods, but also to the larger, more global community. New Communion began its mobile distribution on July 1, 2016. Two or three times a week, on Thursday, Friday, and/or Saturday, our van is stocked with donated and purchased pantry items as well as vegetables donated by local gardens, and bread supplied by a local grocer. Each neighborhood is unique; but each is committed to partnerships designed to improve the community. New Communion continues its work through a theology of “shared abundance.”

Deb Richardson-Moore
Triune Mercy Center
Triune is a mission church that welcomes the homeless into worship and provides social workers, a mental health counselor, legal aid, health care, drug rehab and escape from the sex trade, along with hot meals, a food pantry and laundry services.
“Pastor, do you know the worst thing about being homeless? It’s not being cold or wet or hungry. The worst thing about being homeless … is being looked right through.”

That’s what a man said to me early in my pastorate at the Triune Mercy Center, a mission church to the homeless in Greenville, SC. So we began trying to address that condition – making eye contact, touching shoulders, remembering names, using their art work in worship, having them help serve communion, using improvisational theater, virtually anything we could think of to lift people up.

My innovation was to write a murder mystery with homelessness as a backdrop to explore what it might mean if a whole group of people was invisible, unseen, ignored. What might they see? What might they know?

The Cantaloupe Thief was published by Lion Fiction of Oxford, England, in 2016, and tells the story of a homeless veteran named Malachi Ezekiel Martin who glides unseen through his northeast Georgia town. When a local newspaper reporter decides to look into a decade-old murder, she enlists the help of Malachi and the local homeless population. But then they start dying.

Reviewers have noted that the novel teaches about homelessness in the format of an enticing murder mystery. That was my goal, and it has gotten homelessness – and our Christian response to it – in front of book clubs, mission circles, Sunday school classes, civic clubs and churches.

Alan Johnson
WISE Congregations for Mental Health
This is a process by which congregations become intentional about being welcoming, inclusive, supportive and engaged in mental health. (WISE) This ministry is for local congregations.
Our society needs to reduce the stigma of mental illness, and one place to begin is with congregations. An innovative program, encouraging congregations to become a “WISE Congregation for Mental Health” (Welcoming, Inclusive, Supportive, Engaged), is a way to engage congregations to address the challenges of those who are affected by mental illness. My context: I am a convener of my local church’s mental health task force, Chair of the local Interfaith Network on Mental Illness, and national Chair of the UCC Mental Health Network.

The WISE program for Mental Health supports all who are affected by mental illness, involves those living with a mental illness in the life and leadership of the congregation, and enriches compassionate service for persons whose lives have become marginalized. Becoming WISE about mental health is a process that includes education, the power of personal stories, the passionate commitment of some, and the willingness of the leadership to bless this ministry. The impact will be a shift in attitudes from fear to compassion and a shift from inaction to engagement through education and ways to reach out to others about mental illness.

The impact of the WISE program for Mental Health will be one which, a) invigorates the congregation’s witness to the gospel, b) provides welcome to those who are living in the shadows of stigma, c) sensitizes the congregation to specific ways to be supportive, d) becomes a compassionate witness to the wider community, and e) stimulates spirituality as a resource in one’s recovery.

Alfonso Wyatt
Rev. Dr.
I work with institutions outside of the faith community yet engaged in healing. I bring light to individuals looking for a second chance in life--looking to ’reboot’ and move on with theior lives.
My name is Alfonso Wyatt (D. Min). I serve on the staff of The Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York. I tiptoed along the sacred/secular tightrope for over 40 years working with “outcast” youth, young adults, and adults—most not in the church.

I am the founder of Strategic Destiny: Designing Futures Through Faith & Facts. I seek collaborative opportunities for socially engaged practitioners motivated by faith and secular practitioners motivated by evidence-based learning to find innovative ways to transform people. Some examples:

• I created a workshop called Triumph Over Tragedy designed to help nonprofit healers deal with personal trauma. Some participants have been involved in criminal justice system. People of various beliefs, experiences, age, gender, ethnicities were able to find healing in a supportive, spirit-filled process anchored in love and forgiveness.

• I wrote Mentoring From The Inside Out: Healing Boys, Transforming Men (Amazon), combining youth development with Bible-based spiritual development along with moving testimonies from men in and out of the faith community.

• I was asked to speak to teens held in Rikers Island jail. As I stood before them, I prayed for a word. I opened my eyes and said, “I am a Mental Ninja. Mental Ninjas know how to get into your head and leave something for you before you knew the Ninja was there. I now have a dedicated following of Mental Ninjas (next book) operating from this thought: Truth liberated from the inside out is more powerful than truth pounded from the outside in.

Carla Gregg-Kearns
Community in the Heart of Christ: Community, Race, and Faith
Three Church Collaboration for Racial Justice in Cary, NC
Three Congregations in the suburban community of Cary, North Carolina-- Cary First Christian, Covenant Christian (Disciples of Christ) and Good Shepherd United Church of Christ have developed and are implementing a long-term project aimed at dismantling racism called “Community in the Heart of Christ.” Though we are small membership congregations, we have over 100 registered participants. Our four leaders who are aged 40 and under, men and women, African-American and European-American, straight and queer, pastors and a mental health professional, have worked collaboratively to create a project that is innovative in its scope and material. Having first engaged the congregations in fellowship and worship, the leadership team launched the project with a six-week series that addressed the history and pattern of racism in the church, privilege, norms and stigmas, systems and institutions, and intersectionality with experts from each area. Future work together will include pilgrimages to sites such as the hometown and hiding place of Harriet Jacobs, author of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl and workshops on parenting and soul care. Each piece of the project includes worship and the understanding that racism is a deeply spiritual issue. With a mix of lecture, small groups, quiet time, worship, meals, experiences, and action items, participants are being challenged and supported in their work of dismantling racism. Believing that we are the (diverse, complex, broken, beautiful) Body of Christ in the world, we are equipping and empowering participants to be bold advocates for racial justice in our community.

Gayla Garren
Baby Blessings Pantry of Dingmans Ferry UMC
Baby Blessings Pantry is a mission to help families in need by providing clothing, furnishings, formula and diapers.

Four years ago, we were impacted by the response to our semi-annual Clothing Giveaway. A few hundred people flowed through our doors, searching for help in the way of clothing for their families, especially their children. As we packed up after the event, we saved some baby clothing, in case of any emergencies.

An unused closet at church was made available, and Baby Blessings Pantry became an “official” ministry at Dingmans Ferry UMC. Running exclusively on donations, we stocked clothing, diapers, baby items, formula, cribs, strollers and more. We quickly outgrew our closet. Thankfully, by the grace of God, Baby Blessings Pantry took a giant step forward with the expansion of the closet and the addition of a shed.

Our Facebook page “BABY BLESSINGS PANTRY” connected us to people giving away outgrown clothes and items, and offered to help others in need. We have had an overwhelming response.

Our Clothing Giveaway evolved into Baby Blessings Pantry.

We have helped over two hundred families so far, targeting the deepest need in our community, in the poorest area of our county. We open nine times a month, in addition to responding to emergency situations. Our church has welcomed nineteen new members this year, some of which came to us through Baby Blessings Pantry.

Matthew 25 tells us: “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”


Klara Tammany
Trinity Church/The Center for Wisdom’s Women
A weekday drop-in Center for women, located in a diverse, low income inner city neighborhood of Lewiston, ME, under the fiscal sponsorship of Trinity Episcopal Church and planning to soon to also start a residential recovery community and social enterprise for women.
Ministry context: The Center for Wisdom’s Women (CWW), a weekday drop-in center for women in Lewiston, Maine. Both CWW and my church, Trinity Episcopal are located in a diverse, very low income urban neighborhood. When other nearby churches closed years ago, Trinity made a decision to remain and make a difference whenever it could. This congregation of about two dozen people has since spawned four creative public benefit projects.

The innovation: In 2008 due to limited resources CWW’s founders planned to close. I organized a group to keep it open and proposed that Trinity become fiscal sponsor. As with the previous projects they did so, allowing CWW to immediately raise funds. After raising three months of operating cash Trinity hired me as Associate for Urban Outreach for the purpose of running CWW (CWW reimburses the costs). It provided critical access to Episcopal pension and health insurance plans.

The impact on ministry: Trinity leveraged its resources to make something possible that otherwise was not viable.

• Because they took a risk, I was able to risk quitting a job to follow my calling.

• Because of their commitment, CWW not only remains as a weekday oasis, it is on the verge of adding a social enterprise and residential community dedicated to recovery for women survivors of prostitution, prison and addiction.

• Because of the ongoing support, we all can maintain the compassion, creativity and wisdom needed to provide a safe and sacred space for the support and empowerment of vulnerable women.

Mandy Mastros
Nazareth Area Church Social Worker
There are two churches and one retirement community that are committed to participating in this ministry and several organizations prepared to help with referrals for this ministry. The central location would be Nazareth Moravian Church, a congregation with approximately 200 members.
In a survey of clergy, respondents reported seeing parishioners and community members with psychosocial issues ranging from addiction to domestic violence, to poverty and homelessness, to grief and job loss, and others. The church, called to service by Christ, has a unique opportunity to minister to these individuals, by providing them a safe space and resources to meet their needs. I see ministers and social workers having the opportunity to work effectively together for greater advocacy and education for many.

The only county wide social service program in Nazareth, Pennsylvania is a senior center. Anyone receiving other services must make a half hour commute or more and many have limited access to transportation. My proposal involves creating a partnership between Nazareth churches and the community by hiring a social worker who will work out of the churches for on day a week. The responsibilities would include (1) assessment (needs and resources), (2) determine possible services and help with applications for them, (3) referrals to other programs, (4) follow up, and (5) interact with the committee involved in the oversight of the program.

There are many possible benefits of implementing this program. It would be more convenient to clients and will likely reach more clients through community referrals. This would provide a rent free space for social worker. This program may also encourage clients to attend worship or other outreaches offered by the churches. This program will also help to educate congregational members on community needs which could foster additional ministries.

John Wilkinson
ROC SALT (Service and Learning Together) Center
ROC SALT Center is a collaborative ministry that serves the needs of neighbors in a high-poverty Rochester neighborhood, invites mission groups to be transformed spiritually as they serve in the community, and draws presbytery, ecumenical/interfaith and community partners together to meet real human need and transform community.
ROC SALT Mission Center is a collaborative ministry launched in a vintage and re-purposed Presbyterian building. It does several things: serves as a food haven in a food desert in one of Rochester’s poorest communities, by distributing food on a daily basis; serves as the location for visiting mission groups (youth and adults) to immerse themselves in an urban community as they both serve and learn; serves as a beacon for neighbors who will use this repurposed space as a spiritual home.

ROC SALT Mission Center is innovative in that it asks the presbytery to think differently about building use following the closing of a congregation. It is innovative as it connects a wide range of congregations and leaders in a new mission model. It is innovative as it engages the community in helping to meet its own needs. It is innovative as it draws together leadership from diverse settings in ways that presbyteries typically don’t.

The impact of ROC SALT Mission Center is significant. Hungry people are fed, but more so, they are welcomed as the beloved children of God they are. Traveling mission groups experience a unique urban immersion as they both serve the community and reflect on their experience, transformed by service as they return home to serve.

The church is called to serve in new ways in the 21st century. The mission, business and leadership models of ROC SALT Mission Center acknowledge this evolution, while meeting the needs of those who Jesus called us to serve.

Beth Norcross
Center for Spirituality in Nature -- Spirituality in Nature Group
The Potomac River Spirituality in Nature Group meets monthly to explore spiritual formation and ecological awareness in the group’s home watershed.
The Center for Spirituality in Nature respectfully submits its Spirituality in Nature Group (SING) ministry as a candidate for the McCormick Prize for Innovation.

Too often we live disconnected from the natural world. This separation keeps us from an ancient and essential way of knowing the Creator and affects the way we treat the creation, contributing to its wounded condition and affecting the most vulnerable.

In response, the Center began a pilot program in September 2016, with Fairlington United Methodist Church in Alexandria, Virginia, to create a Potomac River SING, which meets monthly to explore spiritual formation and ecological awareness in the group’s home watershed. The Center has provided curricula and logistical support and is developing a “Field Guide to Forming a SING.” In June, the SING will receive the regional “Green Church” award from the United Methodist Church’s Board of Church and Society.

The SING gets to the heart of creation justice concerns by first transforming congregants’ relationships with God and the earth. This foundational approach builds a justice ethic from the inside out, awakens compassion for the suffering of both the human and non-human, and provides the sustenance for the difficult work of earth justice.

Other churches, in various denominations, have expressed interest in establishing SINGs in their congregations. The SING meets the great yearning for spiritual deepening and fellowship within congregations, as well as with those outside of the congregation, in particular the “spiritual but not religious,” who might not be attracted to a traditional church setting.

Eric Utto-Galarneau
Clean Kids
A No-Cost Laundry facility located in an unused and repurposed Sunday School room for our school district’s homeless children and their families.
St. Mark Lutheran Church in Lacey, WA believes homeless children matter. In 2016, 1 in 20 students in our school district (one student per classroom) was homeless. We asked the district homeless liaison, “Besides housing, what is the greatest need?” The answer was clean clothes. When a student has dirty clothes, they do not want to attend school because of embarrassment, shame, bullying, and low self-esteem. Absent from school, their education suffers.

Clean Kids was born. In an unused Sunday School room, St. Mark created a laundry facility containing three washers and three dryers. Guests access our laundry room via a voucher system monitored by the district liaison. Church and community volunteers accompany our guests. Inside the room is a pantry with free food and other basic necessities. During harvest time, our guests will also receive fresh, organic produce from our community garden

Impact. Students feel good about themselves in clean clothes. School attendance increases and so does the opportunity to learn. Our volunteers are growing in faith as new friends are made. There is a fresh openness to meet the greatest need – housing. On our church property, we plan to build 5 tiny houses for unaccompanied, homeless female students. These young women will have adult mentors from school and from our church. Taking a risk to open ourselves to the vulnerable other, and meeting their need on their terms, with dignity and discretion, has given our church an enormous infusion of graceful, social advocacy that is contagious.

Elizabeth Myer
SALT Project
SALT is an Emmy Award winning, not for profit production company dedicated to the craft of visual storytelling. A big part of SALT’s work is helping congregations become better storytellers! To that end, we have created a collection of seasonal customizable short films (perfect for websites and all social media platforms!), modern religious clip art, film-based small group and worship resources, and rich theological Christian music for (sm)all ages.

Social media is the language of the day and churches across the country are working hard to engage their congregations and broader communities with fresh, relevant, and aesthetically rich content. The trick, however, is that most churches can’t afford to produce high-quality content on their own.

Enter SALT Project’s innovative Customizable Short Films! SALT is an Emmy-award winning, not for profit production company that helps churches become better storytellers with modern, customizable short films that are beautifully produced, pack a theological punch, and take seriously the fact that we have good news to share with the world. And, knowing full well that churches are unable to create these films on their own, we do the production and the customizing for congregations across the country (and in Canada!) for a fraction of the cost.

Churches can then share these films on their website; show during worship and/or on announcement screens throughout their facilities; use them as local television spots; and, most importantly, use as modern and engaging content on any and all social media channels. For example, they are designed specifically to be uploaded natively onto Facebook and Instagram, and also help congregations start YouTube and Vimeo channels. On the evangelism front, they also give clergy and church folk an invitation they can feel proud of forward onto their family, friends, and co-workers

SALT makes these films available to congregations on a sliding scale basis (and often on a pay-what-you-can basis!) because we believe churches of all shapes and sizes deserve rich, modern, and engaging content to represent them and their mission.

The impact ripples throughout the community: churches feel proud of their content, the congregation wants to share these bright, beautiful films, and the community sees them as a window into the church, which often brings them through the doors on Sunday morning!

Karen Hernandez-Granzen
Bethany House of Hospitality
Young Adult Intentional Community

Bethany House of Hospitality (BHOH) was born out of the collapse of a once thriving Presbyterian congregation in Trenton, NJ. The congregation had dwindled to a dozen faithful parishioners. After the death of the church’s fierce leader, the Presbytery intended to sell the property. However, nearby Westminster Church and the Urban Mission Cabinet intervened and asked the Presbytery to transform the manse into an intentional community for young adults who were serving in the city.

Inspired volunteers from across the Presbytery and Trenton rehabbed the property. In 2012, BHOH’s first residents moved in. Bethany not only provides affordable housing for young adults who live on subsistence wages; it provides physical, emotional, and spiritual support to those dedicated to our city. Residents and church members turned the back yard into a community garden and a center of neighborhood activity. Thursday Vespers are dedicated to conversations over meals prepared by host churches that are anchored in the Vespers curriculum, learning from guest leaders, and outings to social-justice and cultural events.

BHOH’s purpose is to share God’s love to young adults, many of whom have been hurt by the Church. Its’ Christian witness has graciously welcomed Jewish, Muslim, Baha, and non-faith residents. BHOH also provides the Church a place where it can live into radical hospitality. In 2013, Lawrence Road House of Hospitality was also founded. Since then over thirty-five residents have brought hope to a city, and given renewed life and a new direction for what it means to be the Church.

Sharon Benton
Love & Justice Project
Working with a local non-profit serving homeless youth, we are renovating 5000+ square feet of our church building to provide safe, low barrier, shelter space for young people, including showers, laundry, and relationship building opportunities to help them thrive.
First Congregational Church of Bellingham, WA gets to serve God in a seemingly-idyllic, college-oriented, medium-sized city. For decades, homelessness and the people experiencing it have been a central ministry. Somewhat disparately, and partly due to a high percentage of educators, youth are another passion for this church. A third core identity is welcome and compassion for LGBTQ+ individuals who have often been harmed by Christian teaching.

Drawing on the three aspects of our particular mission, we learned that a local non-profit, Northwest Youth Services, has been supporting 13-24 year olds experiencing homelessness (many LGBTQ+ who’ve been abandoned by family). Our congregation almost unanimously voted to renovate 5000+ square feet of unfinished building space and use uncounted volunteer hours to host Northwest Youth Services and 18-24 year olds with whom they work. We could have kept using the space for storage or our youth group haunted house, but we are called to work side-by-side with people in our community. Northwest Youth Services’ expertise will guide programs, while First Congregational’s donated space, direct-contact volunteers, and prayers will support young people to thrive.

Right now, there is no safe place in Whatcom County for young people 18-24 experiencing homelessness. To find shelter, we send them south to King County (Seattle), yet their community is here! This relationship will change the lives of both those served and we who share space and life with them. We will grow in understanding and build community in new ways.

Nancy Jo Dederer
First Presbyterian Church of Homewood
The Community Dinners at First Presbyterian Church of Homewood - We serve dinner to 45-60 people each week. We are "feeding the hungry, body and soul."
… "I’ve seen your sign before, but tonight I was really hungry."

…"Thanks for dinner. All I ate today was a bowl of oatmeal."

We hear these comments regularly at our Community Dinners each Monday. Growing out of our desire for relevant, relational ministry, and learning of the number of people who hunger for food and companionship, we knew we had the passion and resources to provide for this weekly ministry in Jesus’ name.

What makes it innovative? It has grown organically in ways we never imagined.

• We serve a meal and sit down to eat with the guests, which has led to the development of wonderful relationships.

• We have a “Sharing Table,” started by one person who brought a box of canned goods to share. Others noticed and started bringing items (food, socks, toiletries, etc.) for the table. This gives guests a way to contribute as well as receive.

• Local teens volunteer alongside our members. Others looking for a way to serve have joined us, making for great partnerships with schools and businesses.

• The high school Community Garden brings offerings of produce and flowers.

• A prayer table is set up in the back for those who need prayer support and someone to listen to their story.

• Diversity shines at its best, surely akin to the Great Banquet.

• Jesus’ presence is made known in the breaking of the bread.

As one regular guest said, “If you’re coming just for the food, you’re missing the point. It’s about community.”

Raenisha (Rae) Karim
Rebellere is ministry, which incorporates art, open dialogue and spirituality to engage the least of these.
While it looks like "rebel" with feminine flare, Rebellere is much more. Rebellere is ministry poised against norms of societal & traditional expectation. Reaching the “unreachable”, touching the “untouchable”, and loving the “unlovable” is our mission. At some point in life, we’ve all been in or close to such a space. Yet, God’s love & Christ’s redemption remained. Rebellere strives to make others aware of this love & redemption available to them.

There’s a need to address important matters, without the hassle of extras. As such, our impact comes from authenticity. Following Jesus’ ministry lead, Rebellere boldly ventures narrow paths, offering ministry from the inside out. Proverbs 23:7 says as a man thinks, so is he. It is our life force for ministry – to change thinking and changes lives!

As a relatable ministry, we bridge the gap between biblical context and today’s world. We engage people where they are and introduce them to new ways of living and being. This happens with the art of life through poetic & dramatic interpretations of the Bible. It happens in confidential, small group forums dealing with self-love, trauma and there-to-here testimonies, offering therapy & action plans as needed. It happens in community panels on poverty, the elderly & effective youth ministry. It happens in non-traditional worship settings, like open mics & creative gatherings, not viewed as “church”, nonetheless God’s presence abides. Rebellere is a movement for evangelistic outreach ministry, cultivating souls for freedom in Christ, one extraordinary step at a time.

Egon Gerdes
Rev. Dr. Egon W. Gerdes
Pastor of the German Congregation

St. John United Church of Christ

1190 Olesen Drive

Naperville, Illinois 60540-8200

Ministry is service. Innovation and impact, however, are problematic, at least to this migrant pastor of migrant congregations.

Migrant congregations have their own set of difficulties, for which we need to find correct concepts. I am the German pastor of a German, Protestant, ecumenical congregation, in the suburbs of Chicago, as I once was the American pastor to an English speaking congregation in Hamburg, Germany.

It is difficult to structure ministry around the need of people. That makes them the head of service, rather than God and God’s mandate. Service would degenerate from following the call perceived into a pagan program devised and managed by us.

Innovation comes out of the divine encountering us from ahead. It touches us, especially in sermons which are more than pitiful ecclesial advertisements. We are drawn into the witness of those who have seen the Lord by their narratives to which we respond. And these responses are not difficult decisions, for we are before God never in a neutral position to choose. When we respond, decisions have already been made over us.

Impact can suggest that we may have to apply our faith, another self-assertion. Ye faith does not need to be applied, it is so virulent, it self-applies, or it is dead. Thus I do not need to develop the whole budget before the people, their giving is to God.

The blessing received is that in the current congregation there is no infighting, but peace, shalom.

John Vest
The Joyful Feast
The Joyful Feast is a new worshipping community in Richmond, VA. At the intersection of food and spirituality, we are an emerging network of people trying to recognize God’s presence around us and within us. In the midst of a fractured world, we do what Jesus did: we gather around common tables to share food, drink, and life with each other. We believe that good and sustainable food isn’t just for the privileged few—it’s a sacred gift intended for everyone. In all that we do, we strive to reconnect with each other, with the natural world, and with the divine. More information at
Beyond our emphasis on participatory worship and community building, several innovations drive the Joyful Feast. 1) Instead of trying to gather people into a church space, we are nurturing faith communities in existing cultural spaces, namely the growing food and drink culture of Richmond. This focus on food and table fellowship shapes our faith formation practices and missional activities. 2) Instead of a membership-based organization with Sunday worship as the primary attraction and faith formation activity, we are structured as a social network with multiple hubs as entry points and places of engagement. We have experimented with “BBQ Church” worship services, a monthly book discussion in a restaurant, and potluck lunches with communion at local breweries. Additional nodes are on the horizon. 3) While our organized gatherings are important, we are also cultivating spiritual practices (daily examen and agape feasts chief among them) that can be done at any time, alone or in groups. Our emphasis is on integrating spirituality and “being church” in everyday life rather than “going to church” as an extra-curricular destination. 4) We are developing a mobile app that will provide spiritual resources and opportunities for connection and engagement that fit within busy schedules and will extend our network beyond Richmond. 5) We are developing a food business ( to support this ministry and create opportunities for community-based mission. Not quite a year old, we have developed a diverse and growing network of people, many of whom would not otherwise be engaged in organized religion.

Rev. LaDonna Nkosi
The Gathering Chicago - #Healing Racism Kairos Community Collective
The Gathering Chicago #HealingRacism Kairos Community Collective

(South Africa and Chicago) is a ministry of The Gathering Chicago which is a Community of Prayer and Global/Local Service based in Hyde Park Chicago.

Internalized racism is one of the most significant maladies of our society which plays out in various forms from police brutality, ICE immigrant raids, the recent Muslim ban and has been woven even into the fabric of our churches and faith lives as we seek to follow Jesus in the midst of perpetuating racism, injustice and racial hierarchy. In our own Chicago community, a Jewish institution has received threats and the national climate has brought division, anxiety, overwhelm and some separation.

The Gathering Chicago Kairos Community #Healing Racism Collective establishes a constant space of relationship building, strategizing and community,

Last Fall, TGC established the #HealingRacism Brown Bag Book Discussions to gather Chicagolanders (city and suburbs) to gather across race, denomination, culture and class in these monthly circle gatherings over lunch and book discussions.  This was in the wake of repeated cases of Black men and women being profiled and murdered by police and others in the city and in the nation.  Our book selections include The Racial Contract by Northwestern Professor Dr. Charles Mills, Jesus and the Disinherited by Howard Thurman and The South African Kairos Document.

As we began to build relationship, community and strategize together for #HealingRacism, we read South Africa’s Kairos Document.  

The Kairos Document details the Christian churches’ response to death, racism, violence and apartheid in South Africa. Their nation was at such a point of crisis that churches and people gathered in a process of forming the Kairos Document.

The Kairos process had deep meaning for us and challenged us greatly as church leaders and people across denominations.  We began to face that our own nation has reached crisis levels, and in many ways, the churches, particularly some of our denominations were failing in acknowledgement and a concrete commitment to #HealingRacism in our churches, communities and larger society.

We meet monthly at The Gathering Chicago office at one of the Hyde Park seminaries or in a public space in the community over a meal, book discussion and we have begun to be a witness to the larger community. In joining together, we have come to challenge what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said about "11 o’clock being the most segregated hour." We are beginning to gather as followers of Jesus with others who are committed to Healing Racism from the inside out.

Next week we will travel to South Africa and in 2018 we will host a Kairos Bridge trip with community members from the #HealingRacism Collective and others to engage with church leaders and their descendants who were a part of South Africa’s Kairos Document process as we work together to #HealRacism together globally and locally.

The McCormick Prize for Innovation will help us boldly continue to engage in #HealingRacism globally and locally through relationship building, study, listening developing our own Kairos process for these time.

Thank you for the opportunity.

A beautifully diverse and intentional cross-cultural, cross-denominational, cross-race community is cultivating and growing as we gather at The Gathering Chicago for the #HealingRacism Collective.

This Innovation can be replicated in other communities. Specifically, we intentionally place 1)#Healing Racism at the center - acknowledging that racism and internalized racism are harmful to the body of the nation and to each individual and collective. 2) We use key texts as foundations for learning together so that myths, stereotypes, and the origins of institutionalized practices that keep us in bondage are demystified and uncovered 3) The monthly gatherings are rooted in prayer, worship and scripture, sharing, journaling and deep listening, art and poetry projects so that as we uncover, address and deal with racism, healing, discover and restoration can take place.

The impact:

1.Some who have given up on the church or been distanced from the church because of its collusion or silence regarding injustices past and present are re-engaging because of the focus on engaging our faith, the ministry of Jesus and scripture and various social movements that have been rooted in healing racism or injustice as a part of practicing faith.

2. Churches, pastors, and others are coming together in Chicagoland across race, class, neighborhood, city/suburb to talk together, eat together, strategize together, #HealRacism together and to be Kairos Community.

3. This has had great impact. This collective is at once global and local, impacting churches and communities across cultures and denominations to work together. For example Pastor Christy Waltersdorff of York Center Church of the Brethren in Lombard led a sermon series on Healing Racism in her church. Later, they gathered with The Gathering Chicago, God’s Congregation, and Parables Community in collective #HealingRacism worship and strategy session.

Linda Loving
"A New Song to Sing: Breast Cancer as Journey of Spirit"
One in 8 women receives the diagnosis of breast cancer. One in 8 women has the opportunity to "go deep" in search of Holy hope, meaningful community and naming their ultimate truth. As a parish pastor and breast cancer survivor I have created a tool which allows women - whether newly diagnosed or 20 year survivors - to lead themselves through a 7 session group workbook without need of "outside authority" or clergy. "A New Song to Sing" provides a consistent scaffolding for women to share their wisdom and faithfully process their experiences. Such "space for transformative healing" is often to available in work and family systems nor in a bright pink culture that presses them to get back to "normal" as quickly as possible.

Faith communities have a significant opportunity for ministry with this large population of women - confirmed by the eager participants of 2 Pilot Groups run in New Mexico and Wisconsin. I have written "New Song to Sing" so that it can be used by all faith traditions; by any who seek Spirit on their healing journeys. Offering these sessions allows outreach opportunities to the broadest community; both Pilots drew 50% of participants from beyond their own congregations.

In addition there are opportunities for partnerships between local congregations and hospitals, women’s care facilities, spiritual direction centers, interfaith groups etc.

One in 8 women. The networking opportunities are remarkable at a time the church is seeking to reach out and gain relevancy and membership. I am currently implementing a statewide project in Wisconsin using parish nurses across denominations to offer "A New Song to Sing" in their faith communities. This effort will serve as boiler plate for a nation wide project in 2018 (2000 parish nurses.)

And so many more ideas! One in 8 women. They deserve this depth of Spirit and hope and encouragement. Thank you. Linda C. Loving

ooops....I packed it all in the "brief" ha ha ministry description!! Hope you can work around that. I was just too eager! Thank you for being flexible (not very "decently and in order" I realize - but it’s time for me to color outside the lines). Linda

Rachel Gross
Death Row Support Project
DRSP provides pen pals for persons under sentence of death in the US.
It was the fall of 1977. The United States Supreme Court had cleared the way for executions to resume. My husband attended a conference on jails and prisons. When he returned home, he said to me, “You like to write letters; I have an idea.”

Thus began the Death Row Support Project (DRSP), a ministry with two-fold purpose: 1) bringing friendly support to individuals on death row who are often shunned by even friends and family, and 2) providing the opportunity for those of us on the outside to learn the realities of who ends up on death row and why they are there – moving beyond the headlines that often sensationalize the stories and demonize the individuals.

The Church of the Brethren agreed to financially support DRSP, a list of those on death row (400 at the time) was obtained from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, prison addresses were provided by state ACLU chapters, and in 1978, the project began. Writers were solicited through the Church of the Brethren Messenger, and later through Sojourners and The Other Side. Word spread, outside and within prison walls. Letters begin to arrive from prisoners requesting pen pals.

Thirty-nine years later, over 10,000 pen pal relationships have been assigned, involving 7500 free-world individuals and over 4000 persons on death row. This has been accomplished with a minimal budget, a host of volunteers, and occasional grant-funded interns.

Delesslyn Kennebrew
The Living Room Christian Fellowship
The Living Room Christian Fellowship is an ecumenical gathering of believers who come together to seek, to serve, and to celebrate. W e meet every Thursday for one hour for an inspiring Word, stimulating conversation, and Holy Communion.
Nearly two years ago, I was inspired to recreate an experience of the church as described in Acts 2:42. “The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers.” The moment of inspiration struck me because over the last ten years that I have served in full-time ministry, this description of the early church is a far cry from what we might call “contemporary” or even “traditional” worship experiences of the 21st century. I was inspired to prepare a place for people to come together much like the people did in the first century church to introduce people to Christ, have conversations about Christ, and celebrate Christ through communion. So, in April, in a city half of whose population is immigrants and refugees from over 50 countries, we will gather in the Clarkston Community Center in Clarkston, GA for an alternative worship experience. The ecumenical team that has come together to plan this gathering which will take place on Thursday nights for one hour is an opportunity for people to deepen their relationships with the Lord without all the potential distractions such as choirs, praise teams, bulletins, videos, lights, mics, speakers, smoke, and mirrors. Our intention is to truly go back to the basics in a way that facilitates deep connections necessary for all to experience life, love, liberation, and laughter in Christ in a space that reflects our name, The Living Room Christian Fellowship.


Vince Amlin
Gilead Chicago
Gilead Chicago is a new church start of the UCC in Rogers Park, Chicago. One innovative ministry is around our use of first-person storytelling in every part of church life.
Gilead Chicago is a new church in Rogers Park. One of the core practices of Gilead is “telling true stories that save lives.” Personal storytelling is woven into every part of church life. Worship includes stories as confession, original songs, or texts to wrestle with alongside scripture. In addition to these longer narratives, everyone in worship has a chance to tell their stories. Congregants fill out short prompts as they enter the sanctuary. They might read, “I felt like, ’I was made for this,’ when...” or “I am starting out on a journey toward...” These short stories are then read throughout the service. Because we believe that every story is a God story, we respond to each narrative with, “The word of God for the people of God. Thanks be to God.”

Outside of worship, we gather around story. Our meetings begin with similar prompts. Sharing our lives with each other creates connection and community. Storytelling is even helping to fund our church. Our pastor, Rebecca Anderson, formed a storytelling consultancy, Earshot, and has worked with dozens of organizations to teach workshops and brought in over $15,000 for Gilead!

The impact of all this storytelling is not only financial and communal. It is theological and evangelical. Honoring everyone’s stories has made room for folks who have otherwise felt left out or left cold by church. Affirming that all stories are God stories means that we are shaping disciples who notice more clearly the movement of God in their own lives.

Delesslyn Kennebrew
The Orchid Project
The Orchid Project exists to invest in the lives of girls in Africa by meeting a basic need to promote healthy personal hygiene and cultivate positive self-esteem in order to prepare them to be leaders in their local schools and in our global community.

The Orchid Project exists to invest in the lives of girls in Africa by meeting a basic need to promote healthy personal hygiene and cultivate positive self-esteem in order to prepare them to be leaders in their schools and in our global community. The Orchid Project was developed out of a compassion for girls who did not have access or could not afford feminine hygiene products and were not going to school for the equivalent of at least two months because of it. The co-founders of this 501(c) 3 non-profit organization were first made aware of this situation after reading articles about girls in South Africa and Ghana. At their first meeting to discuss the potential of partnering, they felt that God had brought them together to help shape and change the lives of young girls in Africa. By June 2016, Delesslyn Kennebrew and Jennifer Rice began to set in motion their desire to help. They began to research, brainstorm and plan specific ways that they could meet the needs of these girls and garner support from friends, families, strangers, and neighbors. They also reached out to a missionary friend who was already planning a trip to Ghana in August 2016. She was excited to hear the vision of The Orchid Project and felt that it was an answer to her prayers. Thus, quickly offering a few suggestions for how to provide healthy and cost effective solutions for the long term support of these girls. By the end of the summer they were able to provide enough gifts for 50 school aged girls and for another 20 girls by January! The missionaries delivered their gifts and shared many pictures, emails, and stories of gratitude.

In the future, The Orchid Project will continue to:

·provide feminine hygiene products to middle school and high school girls

·connect mentors and lead workshops to promote self-esteem

·raise awareness about this human and public health concern as well as secure financial support to sustain our efforts