Presbyterians Today

AUG-SEP 2018

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22 AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2018 | Pr e s by te r i a n s To d ay a guest was smoking outside the church and another guest said, "Don't smoke here — this is holy ground." The volunteers are dedicated and always seeking how to help others. Sylvester Brown, head of the Bistro board, says they are always asking how they can assist in bettering someone's life. They offer prayer and support for the community, exhibit- ing the realm of God in a hurting world. Tip: There is strength in numbers. Don't go it alone. Begin working with other churches on ways to serve the community — together. Sherry Blackman, Rebecca Lister, Katrina Pekich-Bundy, Donna Frischknecht Jackson and Paul Seebeck contributed to this story. could be done for those suffering in their community. The conversation quickly led to the creation of the Seventh Street Bistro — a ministry offering a free, hot meal every Saturday. Today the ministry is a partnership with not just Memorial West and Livingston Presbyterian, but First Presbyterian and Trinity Church and Living Stone Christian Church as well. Approximately 50–60 people show up for a nutritious, home-cooked meal. The Bistro isn't your average soup kitchen, though. The Bistro is also a place where people can receive clothes weekly and hygiene packs monthly. The Bistro has celebrations throughout the year: a cookout in July, a back-to-school drive in August, a coat drive in the winter and a Christmas dinner served on Christmas Day. In conjunction with the traditional Christmas dinner, small gifts are given. In November members plan to offer their first free health fair. Josephine Jackson, a member of Memorial West who has been involved since the beginning of the ministry, says the Bistro is more than just food — it builds relationships in the com- munity. And Memorial West? The church has become a shared space where community members feel some ownership and responsibil- ity. In fact, one Saturday, she says, BECOMING A VITAL CONGREGATION A new initiative helping congregations live big in terms of mission and ministry is being piloted in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The Vital Congregations Revitalization was recently introduced to Newark and Trinity presbyteries, says Kathryn Threadgill, associate for vital congregations in the Presbyterian Mission Agency. Threadgill, who worked with Theology, Formation & Evangelism ministries' acting director, Ray Jones, on Vital Congregations for more 10 months, says the initiative builds on the six Great Ends of the Church, iden- tifying seven key characteristics of a vital congregation. Those characteristics are: caring relationships; lifelong discipleship; intentional evangelism; outward incarnational focus (on God coming to be with us in Jesus Christ); empowered servant leadership; Spirit-inspired worship; and ecclesial health. Congregations in the pilot presbyteries will work for two years on revitalization, spending their first year focusing on authentic relationships and assessing where they are as a congregation in relation to the seven marks of vital congre- gations. In the second year, congregations will determine a course of direction involving one of these three options: • Re-forming churches — Re-envisioning and changing how to be the church together through the seven marks of congregational vitality. • Missional clustering churches — Revitalizing by clustering congregations into new communities of worship and ministry. • Death and resurrection churches — Revitalizing through the death and legacy of a congregation, in witness to the resurrection. To date, 13 churches have signed up for the revitalization initiative in Newark Presbytery. An additional 12 pastors signed up to join pastors of those 13 churches in cohort work, in hopes of eventually bringing their congregations into the revitalization process. Another 14 churches have signed up for the initiative in Trinity Presbytery. The presbyteries of San Jose, Grand Canyon and de Cristo are also embarking on the revitalization initiative, bringing the total of congregations involved to 40. A Vital Congregations Toolkit is available for congregations who want to begin the revitalization conversation. Go to pcusa.org/vitalcongregations

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