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Story New Beginnings service reaches milestone as it empowers congregations across denominational lines

New Beginnings service reaches milestone as it empowers congregations across denominational lines

new-beginnings-logoIn 2008, First Christian Church in San Bernardino, Calif., whose sustainability challenges were becoming all too familiar for Disciples churches, signed on to do New Beginnings, a new service offered by then Church Extension and now by Hope Partnership.

Designed to help congregations answer the question, “What is God calling us to be and do in this time and this place?”, New Beginnings partners with churches in decline to assess their strengths and opportunities as they seek to make bold decisions about their future. Through the New Beginnings process, congregations ask deep questions about their church and community, which often leads them to invest in fresh, new and much-needed ministries to their neighbors in current or new locations. New Beginnings congregations make their own decisions and choose their own futures; New Beginnings just helps them define their current state and address the questions that really matter.

At the end of the six-month-long New Beginnings process, First Christian Church San Bernardino recognized that their ministry was no longer relevant to their changing neighborhood and that they needed to seek a new location where their ministry could be more effective. It took a while, but they were able to sell their building to a growing multicultural evangelical congregation and relocate temporarily to a commercial building, where they gathered while taking their time to find a Holy Place that “fits.” Now, nearly nine years later, and in a facility and location that make sense for their ministry, First Christian Church San Bernardino continues to practice the lessons of New Beginnings by challenging themselves to focus on how best to live out God’s call for them in their community.

Disciples congregations like First Christian Church San Bernardino aren’t the only ones seeking solutions to issues of sustainability and purpose. These past years, as Hope Partnership delivered the New Beginnings service to churches around the country, word of its effectiveness spread and other denominations expressed interest in partnering with us to make it available to their congregations. The Presbyterian Church (USA) was one of our first ecumenical partners, contracting with Hope Partnership to train their own New Beginnings assessors to deliver the well-proven Disciples process to Presbyterian churches. Recently, the Presbyterian Mission Agency determined they would no longer be able to directly oversee service delivery for the denomination and contracted again with Hope Partnership, but this time for direct service to their congregations by Hope Partnership contract assessors.

first-presbyterian-church-homewoodRead here about the transformation First Presbyterian Church of Homewood, Ill., realized when they took advantage of the possibilities that the New Beginnings process brought to light for them.

Thanks to all churches who signed on to do New Beginnings, the assessment and discernment service recently surpassed the momentous milestone of helping 1,000 congregations find the courage to look at themselves honestly and prayerfully and then to act boldly in response to God’s call. Hope Partnership is honored to play a role in their transformational journeys.