In less than 48 hours, leaders from across the country will join the Fresh Expressions National Gathering in Alexandria. And every presenter, attendee and volunteer will have a story to share. Some of the stories will be obvious, some not as much.
Throughout the event we’ll share stories of several emerging and maturing fresh expressions of church developing throughout the United States.
One story features the Gaming Grotto, a Friday night event in Palmerton, Pennsylvania featuring everything from board games to video games sponsored by Living Hope Lighthouse, a 150-member Evangelical Congregational Church seeking to build community in their neighborhood.
Another story comes from Aliquippa, in Western Pennsylvania where Church Army USA in partnership with several churches, some in the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh, have created Uncommon Grounds Café. The café is a no-preaching zone. It’s a place where you earn the right to listen before you earn the right to be heard. On Saturday nights, Church Army Evangelist Dudley Parr leads church in the margins, a big community meal where, according to at least one participant, “God sits at the head of the table as Dad.”
We’ll hear from Third Presbyterian Church and Bon Air Baptist Church in Richmond Virginia. Both churches have a rich history of mission outreach into their community—and both churches are fostering fresh expressions of church for our changing culture. Some of these expressions of church were going long before anyone new there was such thing as a ‘fresh expression of church’. Others are in development as a result of their ongoing involvement with Fresh Expressions US.
The art exhibition at the National Gathering has its own special story. The chief curator is Jay Smith, one of the leaders at Convergence, a fresh expression of church for the arts community in Alexandria. Jay asked a few of his artist friends to help him the exhibit as a way to get to know them a little better. “If this is a Fresh Expressions event” he said, “I figured the exhibit should embody what we’re trying to do.”
Working behind the scenes at the National Gathering is an army of staff and volunteers at our host church. They’re preparing food, arranging the chairs and setting the tables. First Baptist Church of Alexandria, Virginia is thriving ‘inherited’ church. They’ve been doing important work since 1803. And the people of First Baptist are dreaming about the next chapter in their great history as they begin stepping out in the power of the Spirit to begin fresh expressions of church.
What story do you have to share? How are you stepping out in the power of the Spirit? Submit yours here.
Gannon is the Director of Ministry Formation for Fresh Expressions US and leads the Fresh Expressions efforts of the Baptist General Association of Virginia. He earned the Bachelor of Arts Degree from Baylor University and the Master of Divinity degree from Duke University. Prior to entering seminary, Gannon worked as a legislative aide in the U.S. Senate and as a public affairs officer in the anti-human trafficking office at the U.S. State Department. He enjoys forging partnerships between followers of Jesus from different traditions and has served in various roles at several churches, Baptist, Presbyterian, and Anglican. Gannon is married to Carey, who also is a graduate of Duke Divinity School. Together they work to bring fresh expressions of church to the collegiate community at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia.