Planting new progressive churches, renewing existing churches is new center's goal

Planting new progressive churches, renewing existing churches is new center's goal

April 19, 2010
Written by Staff Reports
 “Seven Secrets” for vital, transformational church leadership is the theme of the 2010 New Church Leadership Institute in Atlanta, an event co-sponsored by the Center for Progressive Renewal and Local Church Ministries.

The Center for Progressive Renewal has launched an ambitious project to plant new congregations and renew existing churches.

 In just its fourth month, the Center has lined up more than 15 webinars and workshops on church planting; renewal through spiritual direction; evangelism in communities; and a broad range of other topics keyed to church growth.

The Center is funded by Local Church Ministries, the UCC's Southeast Conference and "Hope for Peace and Justice." Its leadership includes the Rev. Cameron Trimble, CEO and executive director, and the Rev. Michael Piazza, executive director for church multiplication.

 "CPR aims to train leaders – both ordained and lay – in the skills they need for church planting and congregational renewal," says the Rev. David Schoen, leader of the UCC's Congregational Vitality and Discipleship Team.

 "Church multiplication" – the founding of new churches by existing congregations – is one of CPR's key strategies. Working in partnership with seminaries and the UCC's regional conferences, the Center will recruit, train, mentor and coach pastors and lay leaders with a particular vocation for new church development.

 The Center will also support existing churches with a commitment to renewal.

 "We’ll be drawing on the skills of the best ecumenical practitioners in church development and renewal who can serve as a pool of consultants and coaches for the denomination,” says Trimble. “At present, there is no ecumenical center serving the development of new congregations in progressive denominations. This is a vacuum we aim to fill."

 The Center's continuing series of webinars costs only $9.99 for one-hour sessions with church growth and renewal experts. Events such as the New Church Leadership Institute (Aug. 9-13 in Atlanta) and the Churches Birthing Churches Conference (Oct. 22-24 in Chicago) will provide a more intensive training experience.

 The Leadership Institute will offer two tracks: one for new church leadership and one for renewal of existing congregations. Workshops will include: Church Planting 101; Transformational Worship; Social Networking and Web Design; Fundraising and Stewardship; Spiritual Discernment and Decision-Making; 21st-Century Faith Formation;

Turning Your Church Inside Out; and Rediscovering Your Community.

Registration for webinars and other training events is on the Center's website at

The Center's mission statement defines "progressive Christianity" as "a faith that believes God’s family includes all people; God’s people are responsible for caring for the environment, the poor, sick and vulnerable; that education, health care and civil liberties are vital to abundant life and therefore the desire of God for all people; and that truth is found more often in honest grappling with the questions than in absolute hierarchical pronouncement of the answers."

"We believe that this is the type of faith for which millions of Americans hunger," Trimble says.

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