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Story A Glimpse of the 20/20 Vision from a Regional Perspective

A Glimpse of the 20/20 Vision from a Regional Perspective

Gilead Chicago train service

Gilead Chicago holds a worship service in a subway car

The new church movement of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is alive and well thanks to the dedication of church planters and the 32 Regions and Areas throughout the United States and Canada that support their efforts in various ways.

Through the 2020 Vision, the new church movement has already helped the Disciples family grow by nearly 1,000 new and affiliated faith communities. Our church planters remain committed to answering God’s call to serve their neighbors, spread the gospel, and make Disciples. They are aided in these efforts by New Church Ministry and Disciples throughout North America who contribute to the annual Pentecost Offering.

The 2019 Pentecost Offering took place on Sundays, June 2 and 9. Each year, half of this offering stays in the local Region or Area where it was collected to help start and sustain new churches. The other half is used across the United States and Canada by New Church Ministry to support the recruiting, assessing, training and coaching of new church leaders at events like Leadership Academy.

But how exactly do representatives of a Region interact with new church planters? What are their priorities and procedures? Rev. Jeff Zimmerman, Minister for New Church/Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Illinois and Wisconsin offers a fresh perspective. Though ordained 25 years ago, Rev. Jeff has only come to serve the Region in this capacity a year and a half ago. So, his insights are both seasoned and unique. Following are his comments on the team he coordinates and the work they do:

“The New Church Ministry Team (NCMT) of the Christian Church in Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW) supports new and affiliating congregations to reflect the diversity of God’s true church. That is, by doing and being church in bold and creative ways. There are seven of us on the team who walk alongside of our church planters. We invite and encourage them and their participants to be a part of local and regional gatherings with NCMT often covering the cost. We also connect them with helpful resources. All of the pastors of our newer congregations attended or were participants in the CCIW Regional Assembly last fall. In addition, we have been pro-active in promoting the Pentecost Offering in 2018 and 2019 to the benefit of our own new churches and New Church Ministry with whom we partner.

The NCMT currently accepts and reviews grant requests on a rolling basis rather than a calendar year. This allows us to focus on one or two new church/ministries at any one of our three in-person meetings. We also meet monthly for a teleconference. The current total of CCIW new church financial assistance/grants awarded is just under $200,000 (over a XX-year period). I am part-time contract staff with half of my salary coming from the current CCIW budget and the other half from funds dedicated to new church initiatives within the region”.

Thanks to the efforts of hard-working new church planters and people like Rev. Jeff and his NCM team, 17 congregations have formed in the Illinois/Wisconsin Region over the last 18 years (see box for complete list). The five congregations immediately following have received some amount of financial support from CCIW during the last twelve months::

Root and Branch
Logan Square neighborhood, Chicago
Root and Branch meets at noon on the first and third Sundays of the month for an “old-time” church service with music and preaching, and the second and fourth Sundays of the month in people’s homes for Welcome Tables –a communion meal, liturgy and conversation. Pastor Tim Kim is starting a consulting program to assist others in implementing a “dinner church” expression into their faith community.

Gilead Church Chicago
Rogers Park neighborhood, Chicago
Gilead is a congregation-in-formation under the auspices of Chicago Metropolitan Association (CMA) of the United Church of Christ — the denomination that ordained Co-Pastor Vince Amlin — and also an emerging congregation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Co-Pastor Rebecca Anderson’s denomination. Rebecca offers story-telling and training workshops nationwide with through earshot (www.earshotstories.com) with proceeds going to Gilead Church.

ANEW Church
Chatham, Woodlawn, Roseland/West Pullman and South Shore communities in Chicago and online
The vision for the church started years ago when Rev. Dr. Franshonn Salter, who works both as a pastor and a social worker, noticed the common disconnect between Christendom and young people. Eventually, it became the focus of her doctoral dissertation, Hip-Hop Worship: Bridging the Gap between Youth Culture and the Church, and a road map for a new kind of church that speaks to today’s youth.

Global Community Fellowship
Rev. Sunil Gaikwad is in pre-launch phase and anticipates launching in the Spring of 2020. His vision is to reach the unchurched through intentional relationships, as well as discipleship and mentoring of leaders. His goal is to establish a congregation where everyone is called to “Go” and reach out to everyone with the love of Christ, and where leaders are developed and sent out to start other congregations.

Table of Grace
Pastor Sergio Centeno is exploring possible neighborhoods with information from current detailed demographic data available through Hope Partnership. Sergio will meet with community leaders and folks living in the neighborhood to learn their needs and how this congregation may be not only a church, but space exploring the intersections of art, food and social justice in the cultural context of second and third generation Latinx folk.

Since 2001, the following 17 congregations have launched within the Illinois – Wisconsin Region with another one anticipated by the end of 2019.

  1. Korean Christian Church, Springfield
  2. Evergreen Christian Church, Arlington Heights
  3. Yesarang Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Arlington Heights
  4. Native American Christian Church of Franklin County, Benton
  5. Family of Hope Community Church, Blue Island
  6. Iglesia Cristiana Discipulos De Cristo, Milwaukee, WI
  7. Iglesia Cristiana Discipulos De Cristo of Blue Island, IL, a satellite of the Milwaukee congregation
  8. Network Christian, Bloomington
  9. Faith Alive, Peoria
  10. Big Life Community Church, Oswego
  11. Root and Branch Church, Chicago
  12. Grace Myanmar Christian Church, Moline
  13. Happy Christian Church, Northbrook
  14. Heavenly Gate Christian Church, Skokie
  15. Victory Church, Wheeling
  16. Gilead Church Chicago, Chicago
  17. ANEW Church, Chicago