It sounds like the beginning of a joke, but it’s not. We’re pleased to announce the addition of three new mission partners representing three distinct regions and traditions: The American Baptist Churches of Vermont and New Hampshire, the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church and the Central Florida Diocese of the Episcopal Church.
Leaders in the American Baptist Churches of Vermont and New Hampshire are no strangers to being church in post-Christian communities. They’re not anxious about it. They’ve lived with it for decades and provide an important level of experience to as the movement builds. “We build bridges to fit the river, we don’t build rivers to fit the bridge says Executive Minister Dale Edwards.
What Leaders are Saying About Fresh Expressions
Kathleen Blackey, Co-Pastor at First Baptist Church, Londonberry, Vermont says that Fresh Expressions “gives historic churches opportunities to reach out in new ways that they’ve never thought about before. It’s a safe opportunity to do the old and the new at the same time and to reach out to friends and neighbors who don’t know Jesus.” Her church is experimenting with a dinner church for employees at a nearby ski resort who work on Sunday and who have little prior experience of church.
This ability to connect the unchurched and de-churched is what attracted United Methodist Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson to the movement. She remembers what it was like being far from home and far from God and is eager to see how Fresh Expressions will impact the Atlanta metro area and beyond. Phil Schroeder, Director of Congregational Development for the Conference says that “Fresh Expressions is helping us to march off the map to meet people where they are, rather than just hoping and waiting for them to come to us.”
Each partnership is contextualized to suit each denominational stream and region. In the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida, it’s taking shape first by gathering leaders from key parishes and it will continue through participation in the Fresh Expressions National Gathering in March, a pioneer learning community in April and Vision Days next fall.
“Fresh Expressions and the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida share a very important objective: evangelization through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is through this mutual commitment to evangelization that we hope to impact one life at a time. I am energized by the possibilities Fresh Expressions presents our diocese for sharing and building faith in the Central Florida community, especially as we continue to grow in population and diversity. This will be a fruitful partnership with limitless potential to share the love of Christ,” The Rt. Rev. Gregory O. Brewer, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida.
To learn more about how your denomination or agency can become a Fresh Expressions Partner, contact Chris Backert.
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.