Congregational Excellence >  5 Talent Academy Mission Insite Parish Papers  > Fresh Expressions

Rachel Gilmore, The Gathering UMC

Tell us about you and your call and your plant.
Rachel Gilmore. I actually realized my call to plant AFTER I was appointed to serve as a church planter. My District Superintendent called me the last semester of seminary and told me I would be appointed to plant a new faith community in Virginia Beach. My initial response was, "Thanks but I've been offered an associate position in Northern Virginia and I think that would be better for me." His response, "You must have misunderstood me. I'm not asking you IF you want to start a new church, I'm telling you what you are being appointed to do." As I began planting this new faith community I realized that God had been shaping and forming me for this calling my entire life.

What is the vision for the plant you are in?
Our vision is to reach out to unchurched or dechurched spiritual nomads and give them a new faith community that feels like home. We do this through worship that blends ancient tradition with a contemporary, comfortable environment. We also have a huge vision to grow and strengthen small groups as a means for discipleship. Our official vision statement is that we are "Gathered Together, Empowered by Christ, Transforming the World."

Where are you in the process of planting?
We launched our first public service in September of 2010 and are in our last year of conference supported funding with the goal of being self-sustaining by the end of 2012!

What does the plant currently look like?
We meet at the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts and our congregation is comprised of a lot of young families (we average 25-35 kids under the age of 11 each week and our overall worship attendance this year has been around 130 people).

What are your current prayer needs – for you personally?
When I started planting The Gathering I had an 8 month old son. Now my son is 3 and my daughter is 9 months old. My husband is also a UM pastor so prayers for a clergy couple with two young children would be greatly appreciated. Prayers that we remember to take a Sabbath and prayers that we feel supported and encouraged in our ministry.

What are your current prayer needs for the plant?
Prayers for continued outreach to the marginalized in our community and throughout the world. Prayers for our small group leaders as they disciple the congregation.
Prayers for the leadership team as we work together to make important decisions in the coming year.
Prayers for the certified candidate and 4 seminary students/recent seminary grads who are active in the church as they seek to find more ways to live out their calling.
Prayers for continued growth in worship attendance and giving.

What needs does the plant have?
Fundraising, in-kind donations, regular tithers, more volunteers for kids' ministry.


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