New church strategists and congregational developers will fan out across the United States this summer to visit and learn from many of the 684 new places for new people that United Methodists started during the last quadrennium.
The Summer Road Trip, an adventure of modern-day circuit riders in the Wesleyan tradition, is being organized by New Church Starts (Path 1), a division of the General Board of Discipleship (GBOD).
“The old adage says, ‘If we can see it, we can do it,’ ” said Karen Greenwaldt, GBOD General Secretary. “The collection of stories, pictures and information coming from this Road Trip will provide powerful examples of how new churches are developing across this country.”
The purpose of Summer Road Trip 2013 is to “connect with new churches and faith communities to celebrate what works, to learn what doesn’t work and to dream about what could be as we continue our efforts to start even more new places for new people,” said Candace M. Lewis, Executive Director of Path 1.
“We're not quite like circuit riders, but we're going out to visit the circuits. Wesley did it on horseback, but we'll be traveling by trains, planes and cars,” she said.
From June through September, Path 1 new church strategists and associates will join with regional church developers and others to meet with people at new faith communities in each of the church’s five U.S. jurisdictions.
“We want to see the lives that have been changed, hear some of the stories and understand what is needed from us to help new congregations to succeed,” Lewis said. “We really believe that planting new churches is changing lives, so we just want to meet some of the people whose lives have been changed by these church plants.”
Bener B. Agtarap, Conference Superintendent for Congregational Vitality in the California-Nevada Annual (regional) Conference, not only will make stops in the Western Jurisdiction states of Washington, California, Nevada, Oregon and Colorado, where 66 new churches were started, but he will also visit Canada.
“In Vancouver, British Columbia, I want to celebrate the fruit and ministry progress of the newly started first United Methodist church and first Filipino-Canadian church in Canada,” Agtarap said. “I want to learn about how the Pacific-Northwest Annual Conference was able to work in partnership with the United Church of Canada to make this new church start become a reality.”
Phil Maynard, Path 1 Coaching Network Director, will join Path 1 associates Mont Duncan and Kim Griffith during visits to many of the 232 new churches that were started in the Southeastern Jurisdiction in the last quadrennium. The Kentucky Annual Conference started 15 of the new churches in the Southeastern Jurisdiction.
“I hope to begin building relationships with both church planters and developers, strengthen the connections with Path 1, gather helpful data on the church plants and learn much about the challenges, needs and opportunities for Path 1 to resource the church planting movement across the country,” Maynard said.
“This road trip flows in the great tradition of the circuit rider in Methodism, where the faith communities in locations all around the country were resourced and supported by the larger church. It is a great opportunity for GBOD to be on the ground making connections and supporting a great movement in reaching new people for Jesus,” he said.
New Church Strategist Paul Nixon plans to visit many of the 92 new churches started throughout the Northeastern Jurisdiction between June and September.
“I visit probably two dozen different churches and new church projects in a normal year, and this is just a normal year on steroids – probably 60-65 different onsite visits to faith communities," Nixon said.
The experiences of the Summer Road Trip will be chronicled on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
“As people engage these examples of new churches, they will think, ‘We can do that too!’ Energy and excitement will grow, and I’m thrilled by the possibilities for learning, adaptation and experimentation that the Road Trip will stimulate,” Greenwaldt said.
Next summer, church strategists hope to visit the new churches that are not on this year’s agenda, Lewis said.
GBOD’s mission is to support annual conference and local church leaders for their task of equipping world-changing disciples. An agency of The United Methodist Church, GBOD is located at 1908 Grand Ave. in Nashville, Tenn. Visit www.gbod.org for more information or call the Communications Office at (877) 899-2780, Ext. 1726.