By Angela Sagesse
The Church of God in New England consists of ten congregations dispersed between Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. All six states that comprise “New England” consistently are ranked within the top ten of the nation for having the lowest church attendance, thus making this the least-churched area of the country. Yet, the New England Church of God is wanting to turn that around!
First, though, we have had to turn ourselves around! Struggles and problems have been of major concern in our district. With the assistance of Handel Smith of Church of God Ministries, the New England Church of God is now moving forward step by step. Our agreed-upon vision is to share the love of Jesus to all of New England. Under our newly formed Rejuvenation Team, we are launching a “Nehemiah Project” to rebuild our district first through a concentrated effort of prayer, and then to rebuild through leadership training initiatives, structural changes, and implementing Leadership Focus as our credentialing process.
One of the greatest strengths in our district that will better enable us to reach all people is that our congregations are all very different from one another. We are very multicultural, multi-ethnic, multi-racial and even multi-lingual. Our churches are comprised of persons who are Native American, Caribbean American, African American, Latino, and Caucasian. Many of our pastors and congregation members are first- and second-generation immigrants. The range and variety of worship among us is inspiring and exciting when we all gather together to share our styles in worship to the one King of all.
Yet, multiculturalism does not come without struggles. Overcoming the issues of the past has not been an easy road nor does the road ahead look smooth. We must make a concerted effort to listen to one another and, specifically, to listen to seek understanding. We must also be willing to set aside our ethnic culture to take up a Kingdom culture. We are learning that this won’t happen overnight. It is an intentional, deliberate, oftentimes slow process of mediation, communication, reconciliation, and implementation. It is seeking God’s eyes to see, his ears to hear, and his heart to understand the new way he has purposed for us. It must be a laying down of self, knowing that working together in unity will serve as a bright shining light in this spiritually dark area.
And, when we see what God is working out for our good and for the furtherance of the gospel as we work together, may it be for his glory alone.
Angela Sagesse is the senior pastor of Peace Dale First Church of God in Peace Dale, Rhode Island. Learn more about what God is doing across the country and around the world by visiting www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.