About 115 people from the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Church of Christ and The Episcopal Church gathered last weekend at Northway Christian Church in Dallas, Texas, for “Now What? – A Symposium on Repurposing,” primed to take the conversation about creative and relevant use of our church buildings to the next level. After presentations by experienced thought leaders who addressed the general topics of creative building use, leadership and community outreach, congregational leaders participated in application labs, where they developed at least one action item to take back to their churches for consideration and implementation.
About the symposium, Rev. Brandon Johnson of First Christian Church, Lawton, Okla. says, “First Christian Church had been starting to think about ways to better use our building for ministry, and this event has given me a good launching pad to help our congregation imagine the next step.” An ELCA participant was equally as enthusiastic, saying that the conversation in the application lab helped to reduce her anxiety over her congregation’s situation with a pending land purchase.
The Rev. Canon Janet Waggoner with the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth adds, “People at the event seemed so hungry to engage. There was a great deal of desperation in the rooms, but also willingness to risk. Hope stirred among us, and I think some congregations will mark this event as a time when they not only imagined a new future, but when they glimpsed specific ways it might happen.”
“We are greatly encouraged by the growing interest in making more effective use of our Holy Places for ministry,” says DCEF President Rick Reisinger, “and we’re equally excited about how eager this ecumenical audience is to share and put their ideas for change into action for their congregations.”
Portions of the thought-leader presentations were videotaped and will be posted online soon. Plans are also being developed to offer a similar symposium on Saturday, July 8, 2017 at General Assembly in Indianapolis. For more information about the recent symposium, visit www.disciplescef.org/nw.