University Christian Church (universitychristianchurch.net) in Cincinnati, OH and Church at the Well in Burlington, VT (wellchurchvt.com) were both officially accepted into our growing network at our recent board meeting. For many within Ecclesia, the leadership of UCC will be a familiar face to you. In 2014 we were blessed to have Lead Pastor, Mandy Smith, serve as one of our special guests at the National Gathering. In addition to Mandy, Nathan Smith and Anthony round out a strong pastoral team that is leading a thriving and growing church in the middle of the downtown life of Cincinatti, OH. Mandy Smith shared this with us about their recent decision to join Ecclesia. “Joining with Ecclesia Network is important for UCC on several levels. As an independent congregation, we don’t have the support of a denominational network. And since our ministry is a little a-typical (urban/campus/neighborhood setting, coffee shop ministry, female lead pastor) we can easily feel alone or be lone rangers. It wasn’t until our staff began developing relationships with EN folks and churches that we discovered there are others out there doing similar things, longing for similar things. And our hearts have been healed to find thoughtful practitioners and missional academics among our EN friends. We’re also excited about any way that we can contribute something to the EN conversation or be an encouragement or resource to others in their work.”
Next time you’re in Cincinatti, drop them a line. Or, if you haven’t already, pick up a copy of Mandy’s latest book at IV Press, “The Vulnerable Pastor”.
Also joining the Ecclesia family is Church at the Well (wellchurchVT.com) in Burlington, VT pastored by Adam Avery, Kevin Fitton, and Ian Bailey. This is a young church with an incredible story of perseverance and collaboration in the midst of one of the most difficult contexts for church planting in the country. Originally, Adam and Kevin had planted separate congregations, but as they became friends they recognized their shared heart for ministry and their shared vision for Burlington. After a lengthy process, the two congregations merged, Church at the Well was formed, and they have been growing more fruitful and faithful ever since.
Here are Adam and Kevin in their own words …
“We are incredibly excited about being formally invited into the Ecclesia network, though the words “formally invited” aren’t quite right. Because what we’re most excited about is the fact that we feel as if we belong to this community. We are a five hours’ drive from the closest Ecclesia church, and yet when we are together with the network at regional and national gatherings, it feels like we are with our people.” – Adam Avery, Lead Pastor
“This is a great time in the life of our church. We have hit many milestones in this whole church planting process, and while this one might not be the one you first think of as a ‘we made it’ moment, it is huge that our church is at a point where we have established enough of an identity to connect with something larger and know that it is truly the right place for us. We are excited to know that our future is tied in with Ecclesia, with this great organization and incredible group of churches.” – Kevin Fitton, Associate Pastor
Let’s support our friends in New England and be praying that a new church will join them that’s just a little bit closer!