Thanks so much for reading this month‘s news from The Initiative, a community committed to “walking in deeper friendship with Jesus and his followers, so that the love of Christ might exceed all divisions.” We do this primarily through prayer, sharing of our lives, and proactive work for greater unity. This month we rejoice in the ways we saw God moving during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and celebrate some transitions in our community.
Eight (plus) days of concerted prayer
From the 18th to the 25th of January (and really all the way to the end of the month), Christians from communities all around the US and around the globe gathered to pray that other prayer that Jesus taught us – “Father… may they become completely one” (John 17:23). It was a week of powerful concerted prayer and of renewing old (and building new) friendships.
Starting with our own prayer get-together on Zoom on the 17th to pray for the week, folks from our Initiative community were able to participate in several of those gatherings, from the beautiful worship space of St. Andrew Russian Greek Catholic Church in El Segundo, CA (top left picture below) to Boston, where we had to pivot to Zoom at the last minute because of bad weather (top right). It included several places around Chicago, including a wonderful post-prayer meal on the Northside (middle), inspiring cross-denominational stories in Carol Stream (bottom left) and a sign of our shared baptism at Augustana Lutheran in Hyde Park (bottom right). And several other prayer liturgies in places like Atlanta and St. Louis (where we didn’t get any pictures from :D)
May those prayers continue to bear much fruit and deepen us in love for one another in the year ahead!
Farewells and welcomes
This February is a month of transition for us, especially as we say goodbye to Stacy Armstrong, who’s been the Administrative Manager for The Initiative since its very beginning nearly four years ago. In fact, Stacy’s connection with this ministry goes back 25 years to when she was in high school and began helping out her dad (John Armstrong, founder of The Initiative) when the ministry was known as ACT3.
Stacy’s care, administrative skills, and hard work were invaluable in making the transition from ACT3 to The Initiative and she deeply believes in our mission. She helped maintain organizational stability through the pandemic and guided me in learning our operational structure as I came on as Executive Director eighteen months ago. We’re thrilled that she now has an opportunity to go back to university to be certified as a special education teacher, and we want to bless her as she steps through this new door that God has opened for her. Please be praying for her as she both misses working with us and experiences the exciting opportunities (and challenges) of being back in an academic environment.
We’re also going through some transitions on our Leadership Council. We’re saddened to lose the wisdom and prayerfulness of Greg Metzger, who is stepping down after four years on the Council in order to focus his time and energy in The Initiative on developing our community in Southern California. At the same time, we’re excited to welcome two new members to the Council: Israel Chaffin from Memphis, TN and Rev. Craig Higgins who serves a Presbyterian pastor in the suburban New York City area. You’ll have a chance to hear from both of them in this space at some point in the near future.
Your prayers in the midst of all of these transitions are greatly appreciated!
I think most of you know I still work part-time with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, mostly focused on the partnership between IVCF and Campus Ministry at Assumption University in Worcester, MA. One of the joys of that work is getting to study Scripture every week with students from various Christian traditions.
This semester, we’ve been going through the Book of Acts, and it seems like every week God amazes us with pictures of how the Church from its very beginning navigated the ethnic, theological, and economic tensions that threatened to divide Jesus’ followers from one another – all while facing both curiosity and hostility from the surrounding culture, and being pushed by the Holy Spirit into boundary-crossing mission.
I wish each of you could join us! Since you can’t, maybe you could get together your own group of friends from different churches and read through Acts together. If you do, let me know how it goes and what you’re learning.
I’m so grateful for each one of you who reads these updates and for your prayers, partnership and encouragement. Thank you!!
Yours in Christ’s Love,