How many New Worshipping Communities does the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) have?
The official number, as of mid-December, was 264 – a number determined after a review to make sure that all those communities listed meet the PC(USA)’s criteria.
Linda Valentine, executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, told the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board’s executive committee during a conference call Jan. 22 that the review checked to make sure that each community was initiated after July 1, 2010 (the official start date for the denomination’s 1001 New Worshiping Communities initiative); that each was still active and a part of the PC(USA); and it met the denomination’s definition of a new worshipping community. Others were taken off the list – most because they were double-counted or predated the initiative.
A question the denomination will need to consider as the initiative goes forward, said Chip Hardwick, the PC(USA)’s director of Theology, Worship and Education, is whether to count all those that were started or only those that continue to survive.
“Some of them are not going to make it,” said executive committee member Chad Herring, a pastor from Kansas City. “I don’t think that’s a bad thing to talk about . . . We’re not doing this because we are assuming perfection. Many of these are incubators of ministry and they’re going to fail.”
If a new worshipping community doesn’t survive, “we trust that God was working through those” when they did exist, said Marilyn Gamm, chair of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board and a teaching elder from Wisconsin. And it can be important to track, Valentine said, “the lessons we’ve learned” from the experience.