In late September, I fell in love with a congregation. It’s easy to do.
Like many small urban churches, Westminster Presbyterian Church in Trenton, New Jersey, punches way above its weight. With fifty or sixty people at worship on Sunday, they manage to serve many more people in their community throughout the year with produce from their urban garden, with after-school enrichment for neighborhood children, with a community center for young adults, and by sharing their facility with community partners. The small but mighty body of believers at Westminster is passionate, faithful, vibrant, creative, incredibly busy, and exceptionally warm and welcoming. What is true of the congregation is matched and magnified in their leader, Rev. Karen Hernandez-Granzen.
For several months now, key leaders at Westminster have been considering launching the 1K Churches Bible Study and Micro-loan program. They’ve read through all of the materials Criterion provides, from the Bible Study Facilitation Guide, to the Getting Started Guide, to the Loan Implementation Guide. Criterion staff has met with them on Zoom to answer questions and give encouragement. These same leaders have been in touch with a 1K Congregation in Naples, Florida, to learn more about how that group accomplished the goals of the Bible study in a highly successful, one-day, intergenerational retreat. Westminster has a partner congregation nearby that could provide the capital for the first loan. The larger Trenton community already has a major initiative going to promote small businesses and entrepreneurs.
The stars all seem to be aligned for 1K Churches to take off at Westminster. They have the vision and the heart, the leadership and the relationships. They will be an exciting 1K Church, discovering God’s economy in the heart of the city. They will make a real difference in their neighborhood as they claim their financial power and use it creatively and faithfully. They will be great!
For right now, however, the good people at Westminster just need to catch their breath. They are bone-weary from much serving. They have spent themselves with reckless abandon for the sake of their beloved community. God bless them as they take a well-deserved pause before they throw themselves into the 1K Churches adventure. God must have had super active, loving congregations like this in mind when he instituted the practice of Sabbath rest. IK Churches will take off at Westminster and at many other blessed, busy congregations — in God’s good time.
Written by Criterion’s Rev. Phyllis Anderson
The children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. Luke 16:8.