Author: Dr. Corey C. Schlosser-Hall
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A response to Dave Hackett’s article: Essential Foundations of Partnering Initiatives
Assume that Christ’s Spirit is also inspiring others to address the ministry focus that he has brought upon your heart!
This insight shared by Rev. David Hackett in “Essential Foundations of Partnerships” rings bright and true with my experience as Executive Presbyter in North Puget Sound Presbytery. A recent venture illustrates the point.
In January 2011 our Executive Board—what others might call a leadership team or council—identified a top priority to try and reach the second generation of Korean-Americans in the larger Puget Sound area. We didn’t have any idea how we were going to do that. We just sensed it was important to God and to the mission of our presbytery (a covenant community of 38 congregations north and west of Seattle in Washington state). So we began praying.
That March I received a phone call out of the blue from Eric Eun, a second generation Korean-American who said, “I have a vision for second generation ministry, would you like to talk?” We met. Praise be to God, a brand new ministry called Wellspring was born as a partnership between NPS Presbytery, our 8 Korean-American congregations and Wellspring. Christ’s Spirit was inspiring others to address the ministry focus Christ brought upon our heart.
The early effectiveness of that ministry has exceeded all of our expectations. It seems clear in hindsight that God was at work beyond our awareness to orchestrate connections needed to help this partnership fly. That seems to happen time and again when God wants to bring people together to do something more than either could do on their own. Pray, pay attention, and follow the leads that God sends. “Out of the blue,” is sometimes the providence of God.
Limited, defined objectives yield big results and continued encouragement to deepen the partnership.
As we worked through how to partner and what each partner--NPS Presbytery and Wellspring--would bring to the partnership, we also said “there’s no reason to wait to figure it all out before acting… begin! Start walking. We’ll discover where it leads.” We certainly put down specific plans for outreach, programming, and financing, but those plans shifted as our experience drew us into new insights about how it would work best.
So Wellspring started with Thursday evening worship…win. That led into an English Ministry (EM) Pastor’s fellowship where second generation pastors from Vancouver BC to Tacoma, WA and their families joined together for fellowship…win. Then came a mission trip to Kotsabue, Alaska…win. Confidence was beginning to grow among Wellspring and NPS Presbytery.
This led to Wellspring young adults assisting in leadership for a Korean-American college student conference in Seattle. Then Wellspring hosted a retreat over Christmas for the high school students of 6 smaller congregations who couldn’t do it on their own. And then in March 2012—1 year later Wellspring, building on their programmatic and outreach momentum launched a basketball league (10 teams, 10 different ministries) and held their first annual gala in which 200 young adults participated. They raised $13,000…bigger win. The success of the basketball league led to a missions madness basketball tournament planned for July 2012 which aims to raise $25,000 and bring together 18 different teams and congregations.
The confidence and courage built by the early, defined objectives and success, led to increasing confidence…”we can do this.” The practical effectiveness by both Wellspring and NPS Presbytery in planning, financing, and execution led to increased trust by both parties. Increased confidence and trust are leading to bigger plans, broader vision. Wanna partner?
I can’t wait to see what happens next! Onward. All praise and thanks be to God.
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Dr. Corey C. Schlosser-Hall is Executive Presbyter at North Puget Sound Presbytery.