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Uncategorized Ecumenical partnership raised to the next level

Ecumenical partnership raised to the next level

In the past eight years, hundreds of Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) congregations have participated in a process called New Beginnings, developed and offered initially by Church Extension and now by Hope Partnership, that helps congregations assess their current condition, strengths and opportunities as they seek to answer the question, “What is God calling our congregation to do and be in this time and this place?” The New Beginnings process enables congregations to make bold decisions about their future by addressing deep questions about their church and community, leading many struggling congregations to invest in fresh, new and much-needed ministries to their neighbors.

Given the challenges facing today’s churches across the country, it is no surprise that the effectiveness of New Beginnings to help Disciples congregations make meaningful decisions about their future would capture the attention, and soon the participation, of other denominations. A few years ago, The Presbyterian Church (USA) contracted with Hope Partnership for the rights to the New Beginnings service, which they provided to their congregations using PC(USA) New Beginnings assessors trained by Hope Partnership to deliver the service.

Even as New Beginnings continues to help bring about transformation in many PC(USA) presbyteries and congregations, the Presbyterian Mission Agency has recently determined that it would no longer be able to directly oversee service delivery for the denomination. Thankfully, Hope Partnership and the Presbyterian Mission Agency are committed to ensuring that any Presbyterian church willing to do the challenging work of discernment will still have access to the service. In May, both ministries announced that Hope Partnership will be the “direct supplier” of New Beginnings to PC(USA) churches, using assessors contracted through the Disciples ministry.

According to PC(USA)’s Ann Philbrick, associate for Vital Congregations,

“We have a way forward for churches interested in utilizing the New Beginnings ministry…and are convinced the service to our churches will be seamless. We strongly believe in Hope Partnership’s ability to provide quality and faithful service to our congregations.”

20100128MWhitmanTo ensure the service is indeed seamless, Hope Partnership has contracted with one of its current Presbyterian assessors to facilitate Hope Partnership’s delivery of New Beginnings to PC(USA) congregations and more. Michael Whitman, formerly program assistant for New Beginnings with the Presbyterian Mission Agency, will work on temporary contract out of Hope Partnership’s Indianapolis office to deliver the service, coordinate assessor training, assist with resource development for New Beginnings and other Hope Partnership services, among other responsibilities.

For more information about New Beginnings, contact Michael at mwhitman@hopepmt.org, 800.274.1883 or visit http://www.hopeecu.org/transform/new-beginnings/.