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author: Dwayne Stinson

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The rumors are true. Something is hatching at the Conference Office. Actually, something has hatched. May 11-13, 2023, 13 teams representing seven districts gathered at the conference center to develop new ministries to reach more people, more diverse people, and more young people for Christ. This Hatchathon creates space for teams to dream, and helps them focus their ideas into a focused pitch by the end.

The Hatchathon marks the beginning of a year-long process representing a partnership between Ministry Incubators and the conference Church Development Team (CDT). The aim of the process is to help ministry leaders develop their ideas into action plans to assist the CDT in evaluating new ministries as the team discerns grant funding for them. The full process includes the Hatchathon, a year of monthly coaching for each team, and a Pivot Retreat to evaluate the progress of the project at the 6-month mark. In addition the entire cohort will gather quarterly for coaching and check-in.

District Superintendents recommend projects for the Hatchathon, all of which are aimed at fulfilling the mission of the Church Development Team to establish new faith communities and to support existing churches in creating new ministries that make disciples.

The projects at this year’s Hatchathon were:

  • Sueños, a LatinX new faith community built around Fresh Expressions and small group ministries in Chester;
  • New Life International Neighborhood Network, a means of creating additional sites of New Life International UMC, starting as home groups in communities from which New Life already draws significant commuters (some of whom drive 2 hours each Sunday);
  • Embracing King William, a project preparing to establish a second site of New Song UMC;
  • The Epworth Project, a means of helping Epworth UMC in the Coastal Virginia District expand its reach into the community;
  • Light of Hope UMC, which is establishing ministries to connect with the church’s neighbors;
  • Kaleidoscope, a collaborative ministry on the Mountain View District, led by Bethlehem UMC, to build community;
  • JAM—Jesus and Me—a ministry focused on children and families not currently connected to a church, based at Aisle 7 Fellowship;
  • the work of the people, a ministry of edges (a satellite of Blacksburg UMC) that will offer training to church leaders in how to reach millennials and those who are unchurched or have left the church;
  • Embrace, a missional organization in Waynesboro, which is seeking to establish a new faith community;
  • Provision Church and Provision Kitchen, a recent mobile, food truck-based church plant that offers job training and pop-up, table-centered worship and discipleship;
  • Project Hope, an effort by Hope UMC, a 2022 church plant, to reach into the Vienna community in new, creative ways;
  • Andrews UMC Korean Ministry, a new Korean faith community to be established in the west end of Richmond, where currently no Korean churches exist.
  • the Northern Virginia District staff came as an additional team to learn more about the event and hatched a leadership development project called “72”. 

Please pray for these teams as they continue to nurture the ministries they have hatched.

-Dwayne Stinson is Associate Director of Influencing Ministries at the conference center.

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