Congregational Stories

As New Beginnings participant congregations enter into the decision-making process, they begin talking about themselves in honest and open ways. As a decision about their future becomes clear, they claim it and begin the hard work of living into that new future. Here is a sampling of stories from a few congregations involved in this exciting work.

genesisChurch Testimony – Genesis Presbyterian Church | Littleton, CO – “New Beginnings was our multi-stage program of critical assessment and redevelopment. Our process began in Appreciative Inquiry, passed (too slowly for some!) through numerous small group dialogues, and now is pointing to a pioneering way for us to “do” church. This program has amplified our ability to make a difference here in Littleton. Genesis Elders and Deacons have embraced different opportunities to serve that we believe have and will continue to strengthen Genesis’ ties to our neighborhood. Applying our faith in concrete fashion continues to be integral to our shared future as a church, even as details of ministry still in stages of learning and development continue to capture our imagination. In addition, we have become aware that Genesis has a unique flavor of ministry matched to needs in our community about which we should be far more public.”

14Dec_HarvestofHope_pdfGrace Presbyterian Church | Toledo, OH – Among the realizations that Grace Presbyterian Church had through the New Beginnings process was the amount of time and expense needed to maintain the grass on several additional lots surrounding the church. From a conversation about resources came the idea that sparked the creation of The Gardens of Grace–Holy Harvest Ground. This project transformed the adjacent lots into a community cooperative garden and initiated a partnership with the local Toledo Campus Ministry group to teach students about nutrition, food literacy, and civic responsibility. Read there story here.
img_3557_medium300First Presbyterian Church | Rockaway, NJ – With only three years of avalible funds left, the congregation knew that maintaining the status quo was not a sustainable way of life. New Beginnings helped them see that they needed to address some congregational issues and explore their personal faith before reaching out to their community. Read more here.
commofoneFirst Avenue Presbyterian Church | Denver, CO – This congregation enrolled in New Beginnings in a season of transition after a long-term pastorate. Facing congregational decline and shrinking funds, New Beginnings was an opportunity to discern a new future for ministry opportunity in a Denver urban center. In their case, a fresh review was requested in order to help them envision a new future. Their new beginning was to initiate a parallel start, wherein a congregation splits its assets to begin a new ministry project alongside its original congregation. The new project became a 1001 New Worshipping Community called Community of One. This community meets on Monday evenings for worship, involving periods of contemplation, sharing, music, reflection and prayer.
dsc00133-copy_medium300Covenant Presbyterian Church | Los Angeles, CA – With Los Angeles International Airport expanding nearby, area households were disappearing. What was once a sanctuary filled with 1,000 each Sunday was now a large room with 75 people inside. What is a church to do when an outside entity decreases their area population? You can find out here.
Untitled2-150x150Trinity Presbyterian Church | Boise, ID – In 2005, responding to a planned 4,000 unit housing development on the outskirts of town, the church built a large facility to prepare for their new mission field. The congregation had relocated three other times in their history – they were experienced in being mobile, reacting to changing neighborhoods. Unfortunately, the housing crisis followed soon afterwards and with 400 homes built at the time of the assessment, the congregation became very behind in their mortgage payments. After an expedited New Beginnings process, the church decided to sell its building and close.
Untitled1-150x150Mountain View Presbyterian Church | Colorado Springs, CO – After years of meaningful worship services, informative Bible studies, and even hosting a church-run food bank, this congregation knew they were at a crossroads. Their city was changing, and their people were growing tired. New Beginnings offered a structure, and a space, for a conversation that many in the church were avoiding. Through the house meetings, conversations revolved around a common theme: they didn’t have the energy to do maintain their ministry. They voted, confidently, to conclude their ministry in Colorado Springs, leaving their building to be used by other area congregations.

img_5062_edited-1_medium350-150x150First Presbyterian Church | McComb, OH
 – When the new pastor arrived, she heard congregants referring to the church as “our church,” and, “my church.” They weren’t ready for transformation. Instead, they spent eight months reading Scripture and joining in prayer together. When congregant’s started referring to the church as “God’s church,” they were ready. The church enrolled in New Beginnings at that point, and now, you can read what they did.

sanctuary_medium250-150x150First Presbyterian Church United | Syracuse, N.Y.
– With building upkeep taking up most of the congregation’s time and resources, First Presbyterian Church United of Syracuse decided to close. This was not the end of the church’s legacy, though. The building is now home to a 1001 New Worshipping Community called Isaiah’s Table. You can read the church’s story here.