At Hopewell UMC's emerging Downingtown community center, "The Well," rehab project manager George Robinson (left) teaches carpentry to Grace Banka. Hopewell photos by John Coleman

Ministry leadership event to focus on urban ministry

Managing the church’s mission, music and money. That fairly describes the diverse curriculum at Hopewell UMC’s 14th annual Planting Seeds for Ministry Growth leadership development event, set for Saturday, Sept. 30 at the Downingtown church (852 Hopewell Road). The main session begins at 2 PM, but pre-conference workshops will precede it at 11:30 AM, and a closing worship service will follow at 5:25 PM.

Expert teachers and eager learners will explore:

  • doing urban ministry that meets people where they are,
  • drawing the most out of aging voices singing in church choirs, and
  • developing best practices in church financial management.

This year’s theme is “Pray for the City,” drawn from Jeremiah 29:7—“Seek the peace and prosperity of the city…Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” That imperative proclaims that churches are called to engage in ministries of prayer and action in urban communities where there is great need but also great potential for people to use their gifts and experience their faith.

The Rev. Scott Chrostek, pastor of Resurrection UMC Downtown, in Kansas City, Mo., will teach on “God’s Misfit Mission: Meeting People Where They Are.” He’ll ask the question, “What does it take to meet our neighbors, share the gospel, and change the world around us?” Finding that answer led his church to grow from nine to 1,000 worshipers in just six years, starting, perhaps as Jesus did, by marshalling some social misfits to give birth to a church and much more.

That church, with two locations now, manifests the urban presence of rural Resurrection UMC, located in Leawood, Kansas, one of the largest mega-churches in the nation, whose revered pastor is the Rev. Adam Hamilton.

But first, Scott Chrostek will share his wisdom in “Imagining the Possibilities,” a plenary keynote address. “When we remember God’s power and the unlimited potential associated with His generous love for us,” he says, “there’s plenty we can do, even when we feel like we don’t have much to offer.”

After a brief career working in investments, Chrostek was recruited by Hamilton upon completing Duke Divinity School. Now he is widely viewed as one of the brightest young leaders in the denomination. He will share the vision, the questions, the ups-and-downs, and the miracles that he and a new Christian community experienced along the way in planting “RezDowntown” in an urban community.

In 2011 the fledgling faith community purchased and renovated a bar/concert venue in downtown Kansas City.  Four years later, they raised over $6 million dollars and built the first new church building in downtown KC in over 80 years. The congregation is 66 percent single, and over two-thirds of its worshiping community is non-religious or nominally religious.

Entrusted with extraordinary, divine power to change the world, Scott explains, “church leaders are called to get up, get out, get moving and give it all away… with joy and thanksgiving, simply by doing the same things that Jesus did first for us.”

His first book, Pursuit (2012), outlines the seven dimensions of living a missional life. His second book, The Misfit Mission, released in April, speaks of God’s pattern of calling the wrong people, it seems, at the wrong times to do extraordinary things for the kingdom. The Misfit Mission describes what it looks like for us to do the right thing in ministry, even when logic or ‘rules’ say it’s the wrong thing.

The Well:  What’s Happening in Downingtown?

Meeting people where they are is what Hopewell Church is trying to do through its new urban mission enterprise, aptly named The Well. Members, as skilled and unskilled volunteers, have been laboring long and hard for months to rehab a former funeral home the church purchased this year and convert it into a much-needed community center in downtown Downingtown.

The Rev. Steve Morton (left), Hopewell UMC’s lead pastor, with Keith Wilborn, Pastor of Urban Connection who manages The Well’s outreach ministry.

The project is a dream coming true for the Rev. Steve Morton, Hopewell’s longtime pastor, who years ago envisioned and began raising support to create a viable presence in town to serve residents there through various ministries.

Only a few major tasks—like roof replacement and asbestos removal—involved paid contractors. For the rest, over 120 dedicated members and friends have shown up mostly on weekends, including over Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends—to “seek the peace and prosperity of the city” through their actions. (Be sure to view photos of members working to bring The Well to fruition in an album on our Flickr page .)

Some attendees at Saturday’s Planting Seeds event will get to see the progress and learn the potential of this remarkable undertaking during a tour led by Keith Wilburn, Pastor of Urban Connection at Hopewell. A church bus will take visitors to The Well. The large, white-columned, three-story building is located on a busy commercial street ( 107 West Lancaster Avenue, Downingtown) several miles away. But it seems a world away in a town setting so different from the quiet, rolling hills, farms and forests that surround the nearby church.

Wilborn, who also runs the Kids to College educational support program for youth in urban Coatesville, will lead efforts to convert the formerly dilapidated, abandoned building into a vital ministry site. He and others are working with administrators and faculty of the nearby Bradford Heights Elementary School. They even hosted a four-week summer enrichment program for 10 students in July, using the limited space available in a facility still under reconstruction.

The Well will offer more summer and after-school youth programs, house meetings, including the church’s popular 12-step Celebrate Recovery ministry, and provide job preparation classes, computer education and other activities for youth and adults. Some church groups are already asking to move their ministries there to serve Hopewell’s new neighbors.

The Rev. Lin George (left), South District Resource Assistant, and the Rev. Dawn Taylor-Storm, Superintendent, moved the district’s office to The Well as its first occupants in late August.

But the first official resident to move in was the new South District, which relocated its headquarters there from West Chester in early September. The district’s renovated second-floor offices, rented from the church, are smaller but cost much less than its previous home, according to the Rev. Dawn Taylor-Storm, District Superintendent. The move was part of the conference’s efforts to reduce its spending budget to help pay down its pension liability for pre-1982 clergy retirees.

Singing Strong: Getting the Most from the Voices in our Choirs

Margaret (Peggy) Baroody, a widely respected voice instructor, lecturer and clinician, specializes in voice health and rehabilitation and enhancing the declining vocal abilities of senior adults. “When working with older singers, how can church choir directors get their voices to the next level?” is the question she will answer in her class “Singing Strong: Getting the Most from the Voices in our Choirs.”

Due to physiological changes, older voices often don’t sing as high, as clear or as loud as many choir directors want. She will teach techniques for choir rehearsals and performances that address this concern and others

Rich Church, Poor Church

Jack Brooks, Executive Director of the Mid-Atlantic United Methodist Foundation, Inc., will teach best and essential practices in church financial management, especially in these changing times amid challenging realities.

A financial stewardship and investment management expert, Brooks will first teach “Building Financial Resources for Ministry,” an Advanced Certification Course in Leadership for Christ Servant Ministers, beginning Friday evening, Sept. 29, and continuing Saturday morning, Sept. 30. The course will offer helpful information, valuable insights and resources in an area too many church leaders consider unfamiliar and even daunting. It will be offered in partnership with the Eastern PA Conference. Those who register for it will also be registered for Planting Seeds for Ministry Growth.

Pre-Conference Workshops & Closing Worship

Hopewell will again offer two morning workshops prior to the opening plenary session. “The Way of the Labyrinth,” an active meditative learning experience, will be led by Pastor Vicki Pry, the church’s Pastor of Spiritual Formation. And Cheri Miller, Director of Children’s Ministries, will teach a session titled “Children’s Ministries—Building a Firm Foundation,” to help Christian educators learn tactics for building a vibrant, growth-oriented strategy for Children’s Ministry.

Following a fellowship break with refreshments, Hopewell encourages attendees to attend its weekly Saturday evening worship service at 5:25 PM. There, in keeping with the day’s theme, they can hear the Rev. W. Wilson Goode, Sr., director and organizer of the nationally acclaimed Amachi Program, a faith-based mentoring model for children of incarcerated parents.

He was Philadelphia’s first African American Managing Director and Mayor, serving two terms in the latter role. He also was the first African American member and later chairman of the state’s Public Utility Commission.

Goode is an ordained Baptist Minister, who has served over 50 years at the First Baptist Church of Paschall in Southwest Philadelphia. He also did ground-breaking work in faith-based housing development for low and moderate income persons.

After serving as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Education in President Bill Clinton’s Administration, Goode helped organize the Amachi Program, which is now his chief ministry and life’s work. Amachi has served more than 300,000 children by establishing the consistent presence in their lives of loving, caring mentors.

There is still time to register for Planting Seeds for Ministry Growth, which is co-sponsored by the Eastern PA Conference. Find more information about the ministry workshops, schedule, faculty, and more at http://www.hopewellumc.org/planting-seeds.