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 features a brief reflection from Rev. Craig Higgins (another new member of the Leadership Council), registration links for our Midwest and Northeast gatherings, and a reminder that we produced a really good documentary couple years ago that some of you may not have seen.

 “I’ve often said that I’m something of an ecclesiastical mutt. I grew up in Pentecostal and (mostly) Southern Baptist churches, and while I’ve been officially a Presbyterian since my early 20s (that’s forty years ago), I don’t think I’m what anyone would call a “good Presbyterian.” I’ve been deeply shaped by Anglican theology & practice, as well as by beneficial reading and (more importantly) conversations with brothers and sisters from Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, Wesleyan, and other backgrounds. That’s why I say that I’m something of a mutt.
     My journey toward ecumenism has been shaped by theological curiosity and by the blessing of friendship; it has also been shaped by church trauma. The small church in which I spent my formative years went through a number of splits; by the time I finished high school, even my parents had left for another church. I have many happy memories of that congregation, but even those memories are tinged with deep sorrow. Experiencing that kind of division was the first step on my journey to ecumenism.
     So, not only am I theologically committed to what has been called Jesus’ Ecumenical Mandate (John 17:23), the divisions in the church are something, to risk being cliché, I feel deep in my bones. “None of us are complete without all of us,” is, for me, a core conviction. About twenty years ago, I took up the challenge of the late Lesslie Newbigin to pray daily for the reunion of the church. That prayer is at the heart of the mission of The Initiative.”

The Rev. Dr. Craig R. Higgins is the founding and senior pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church, located in the Westchester County suburbs of New York City.

Register Now for one of our Regional Gatherings
     At the core of The Initiative are experiences of friendship that bridge differences and divisions. Those friendship experiences are nurtured through our gatherings. Think less conference or even retreat and more encounter. An encounter with Jesus and with a wide variety of his followers – which happens through prayer, reflecting together on Scripture, worship, small groups and sharing over meals, and exploring the guiding principles of our community.
     We’d love to have you join us for a Friday evening and all day Saturday, either in mid-August at the University of St. Mary of the Lake center in Mundelein, IL or in mid-September at Assumption University in Worcester, MA. 
     You can go to the “Join Us” page on our website, or access the registration pages directly by clicking on one of the images below.

Resource of the Month – “One: Following Jesus’ Call to Unity”

    Back in the summer of 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, Global Story Filmsreleased a documentary that they had been working on with us for about three years. That film traces the arc of division and efforts toward reunion over the 20 centuries of Christ’s church. It also tells the story of the beginnings of The Initiative, along with a number of moving vignettes of Christians seeking greater unity with one another around the world.
     We hosted a couple of Zoom-based watch parties with David & Kathi Peters (the filmmakers) back then, and some of you have seen it and shared it with friends since then. But it’s really a unique and powerful resource that many of you haven’t had a chance to benefit from.

     You can watch the trailer below. And you can watch the whole two-episode series for free on Redeem TV (it requires creating an account, but no subscription fee). You could even watch it with a small group or friends from different churches. And let us know what you think!

Also, from May’s “resource of the month”, three of the four conversations about the book “Naming Neoliberalism” (including the last one with the author!) are available on our Vimeo page

Thanks, as always, for your connection to The Initiative and for taking the time to read and interact with this update.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been drawn to Psalm 131 and the invitation to entrust all things to God. Carrying the burdens of division “in our bones” can be weighty. May the Lord give each of you – and me – spaces for our souls to be quiet and at rest in Him.

Yours in Christ’s Love,
Scott Brill
Executive Director