TrueCity Hamilton: January-June 2012

Information SystemsJanuary-June 2012, TrueCity Hamilton

Introduction/Summary

TrueCity Hamilton is a network of congregations that partner to understand and live out their unique call to mission. The network deepens the engagement of each congregation by organizing collaborative events, facilitating shared learning and networking congregational leaders who share a passion for the same arenas of mission.  The goal is to resource a growing number of congregations in Hamilton to more fully grasp their mission and to live it out more effectively.

Financial Facts

Program budget for 2012: $75,645
Program income for 2012: $35,635
Expenses for 2012: $39,150

Accomplishments & Highlights

Uganda Glocal Project–Five leaders from five different churches made a two week trip to Kampala, Uganda at the end of April.  The team’s main activity was teaching and interacting with students at the Impact Uganda training centre.   Regular question and answer sessions became the highlight as we heard more of what was on the hearts of the pastors and students who were gathering.  We were amazed at how the Spirit took the teaching we were offering and breathed new and deeper life into it as those from other cultures took what they were hearing and began to reflect on it from their own perspective and context. God used these sessions as a collective witness to the students, building and deepening relationships in the process. There is every indication that the witness of unity that  grows from collaborative mission deepens all the more as it incarnates in fresh ways by crossing cultures.

Pulpit Exchange–On Sunday, February 5th fifteen churches sent out their own pastor and welcomed in a leader from another TrueCity partner. The result was deeper connection, mutual encouragement, and a larger sense of what it means to be churches together for the good of the city. There is deep significance to living out our partnership at the heart of our worship.   This sending out and welcoming in at the heart of our Sunday gatherings is a simple but radical witness to the unity that is being cultivated among us.

TrueCity Conference–What does it look like for us to heed God’s call to seek justice?  On February 24th and 25th more than 300 of us from 57 different churches came together to dig into that question at the 8th TrueCity Conference.  It was a rich time of worship, prayer, mutual learning and shared stories of how God is at work in our lives.  There is something powerful that happens when we take the time to come from all of our different congregations and explore together what God is calling us to.  Many people commented on this–here are a few of the things that were shared–

  • I learned that Hamilton is an exciting place for God’s people right now.  Great things are happening here!
  • I’m not the only one with certain passions! It’s great to connect!
  • The church is stronger when we work together.  Thank you, TrueCity.

Prayer Room–Starting on the Friday of the conference and running 24/7 for the next week TrueCity partnered with the Greater Ontario House of Prayer (GOHOP) to run a prayer room.  There were breakout sessions on Justice Through Prayer, Justice for the Sexually Exploited, Justice and Mental Health Realities, and Poverty, Consumerism and Justice, amongst others.  For each breakout sessions there was a corresponding prayer station in the prayer room.  As GOHOP leader Jill Weber shared,  “One of my favorite things about prayer rooms is that they provide a place where different prayer streams can collide, and where people can explore different prayer languages.  Charismatic extroverts can sing their prayers.  So can Benedictine lay monks!  Folks who like prayer lists and information stations can use them.  Artists can draw their prayers on the canvas that covers part of the floor.  Mystics can meditate.  And we can all do it together. In May GOHOP in partnership with Philpott Church was able to open up a smaller prayer space in the same building that will provide an on-going opportunity for us to pray together for the good of Hamilton.

CrossCulture–The Spring 2012 edition of CrossCulture took place on Saturday, March 31st. More than 90 students and leaders came together for a day of worship through service, song, prayer and fellowship.

Transformations

Kevin Makins is the pastor of Eucharist Church, a two year old church plant here in Hamilton.  Kevin first got involved in TrueCity during the summer of 2010.  He shared his intention to plant a church that embraced and celebrated Hamilton.  He wanted input from TrueCity on where to plant and how to do so in a way that encouraged unity and partnership rather than competition.  Eucharist Church started meeting that Fall and from the start it was a vibrant place where passionate believers, most of whom were in their 20s, came together to explore how their love for the city might get lived out.   As Kevin shares,  “TrueCity has made a huge difference in my personal ministry. For most church planters I know, one of the biggest challenges to overcome is the other churches in the area. Other congregations and pastors can often be cynical or hostile towards church planters, but because of TrueCity I have experienced the opposite – other pastors and churches are our greatest support! Through TrueCity I meet monthly with existing church leaders and talk about ministry, and am encouraged and challenged in my own role.

As a gifted leader and preacher with a passion for mission, God has used Kevin to bring together a dynamic young church excited to engage mission.  TrueCity has provided them with the connections and wisdom needed to take steps deeper into understanding the specifics of how God is calling them as a congregation into mission.  Kevin has come to recognize that he needs to lead Eucharist into mission at the intersection of creativity and justice, and that for them as a congregation, evangelism flows from where those meet.  God has used his involvement in TrueCity and what he has learned from it to help him and Eucharist to discern this and begin to venture into this territory.

A key initiative last year was to engage global mission collaboratively by sending a group of leaders from different churches.  We asked Kevin to be part of the team and he jumped in with enthusiasm.   Kevin reflected on the trip,   “Being in Uganda with others from the TrueCity movement was an eye opening experience. What we saw in Uganda was just how big the body of Christ is. We have learned to see Christ in each other locally, through our differences and our gifting, but going to another country, as a team, reminded us that we are just starting to uncover the fullness of Christ’s Body – it’s far bigger than even our city. It was a humbling thing to realize, but something that will stick with me forever, and has changed how I view the church, our city, and God Himself!

Challenges, Needs & Lessons

Global to Local Lessons–As the five leaders who went to Uganda at the end of April have continued to reflect on and integrate lessons learned, a few things have come clear. First, the witness of unity is powerful–the unity amidst diversity that our team represented became a prophetic sign almost from the time we arrived.  Second, doing mission together forms community–mission creates and deepens relationship, it takes a group of individuals and forms them into family.  We saw this on our team and we saw this happen amidst the students and other leaders we interacted with regularly over our two weeks there. Third, cross-cultural experiences spark creativity–seeing life through the eyes of others in cross-cultural contexts open up new insights into life realities and how God is at work around us.

The Challenge of the Changes to Canadian Refugee Laws–The changes introduced to the Canadian refugee reception system by bill C-31 will have far reaching and challenging implications for those wanting to welcome newcomers.  Understanding the specifics of these changes, how they will be applied, and what the implications of all of this will mean in the daily grind of coming alongside of refugees is a major challenge that many of our congregations will face over the months ahead.

The Future

Collaboration Zones–We are renewing efforts to discover where our congregations share both geography and arenas of involvement so that we can work to collaborate more fully at deeper levels.  Community building in neighbourhoods, work with refugees, involvement in the arts, and growing collaboration in prayer are some of the specific arenas where we intend to build more collaboration.

Upcoming Events-

  • Packing and Distributing Backpacks to schools in partnership with Start2Finish at the end of August
  • CrossCulture–Worship through service day for youth and young adults on September 22nd
  • Ride for Refuge–The Hamilton ride will take place on Saturday, October 13th
  • Board Gathering–Leaders from core TrueCity churches will gather to learn and encourage each other in early November
  • Christmas Hampers–congregations will work together to resource, pack and deliver hampers to individuals and families in need in December

Thank You

The TrueCity movement could not function without the commitment of the core congregations that give it life and without the generous giving of our other financial partners.  We are grateful for the opportunity we have in coming together to see congregations encouraged and empowered to enter more fully into their God-given mission.