Dear Fellowship Community,
I never cease to be amazed by the variety of Christ’s Church! The people and congregations who make up His body on earth are so different, yet each one is so gifted in their own way. The hard part can be feeling connected to the rest of the body, especially for smaller churches.
The Fellowship Community has a long history of encouraging small churches in ministry, a passion for seeing every congregation thrive, and an unwavering commitment to the value and work of smaller congregations. The question for us in 2016 has been how best to live out that commitment.
As an organization, we have streamlined our operations and moved forward with a much leaner staff. In a world where the PC(USA) is ever smaller, and the need for the gospel is ever greater, TFC has sought ways to become nimbler and more decentralized. One way to put it is that we need to get out of the business of managing other people’s work and focus on the business of connecting the people who are doing great work for the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.
In all of this, we don’t want small church ministry to suffer. The best way for TFC to support small churches is to hand off the management of Wee Kirk conferences to other bodies that are closer to home for our small churches, while still providing the connections that empower small churches. For example, the Montreat Wee Kirk Conference will be run by Montreat Conference Center, and the Northeast PA Wee Kirk Conference will be run by Shenango Presbytery. There are some regional Wee Kirk conferences that have decided to close for now due to low attendance in recent years. As these transitions occur, we are deeply grateful to TFC Board member Herb Coddington, who is working tirelessly to ensure that Wee Kirks (both the events and the churches!) have the resources they need.
The Fellowship Community’s support of small churches will shift to our National Gathering and to mission. There will be a special workshop for smaller-membership congregations at our National Gathering in Lakeland, Florida, February 21- 23, 2017. Both at the TFC National Gathering and at regional conferences under new management, we will focus on helping small churches to find each other and to build local clusters for support and fellowship. We will also help small churches to forge connections based on shared passion and opportunities for mission. For example, The Outreach Foundation is connecting the majority church here (smaller-membership churches) with partners in the Majority World (non-Western) in God’s global mission. Outreach will soon bring on staff an advocate for small church ministry who will advance this vision by sharing resources, supporting regional gatherings and continuing to take small church leaders out into the world to see the amazing things that God is doing.
ALL of our churches matter. There is no way we can be who Christ is calling us to be without you and your support. TFC looks forward to staying connected as a Community and helping to connect faithful servants of Jesus Christ in every corner of the Church all year long.
In His Service,
Rev. Mark Brewer,
President, The Fellowship Community