It began as a simple prayer meeting in a small apartment. Hector Morales is pastor of Divine Redeemer, a New Worshipping Community. They are nesting with Good Shepherd Presbyterian church on the southwest side of Chicago. Hector explains how the neighbor above him overheard the people praying and came down to ask if she could join! From there, others were invited and before long they’d outgrown the apartment. One of the members of the prayer group offered his mechanic’s garage as a location. Within one year the group had grown too large for the garage! Eventually, Good Shepherd offered a space for worship and prayer.
On Sunday afternoon of November 6th, Divine Redeemer celebrated nine years. Over 80 members were present, with very few over the age of 40. The music was vibrant and the singing outstanding. Plenty of children walked between chairs as some played games at the tables set up in the vestibule. My sermon focused on resurrection- “Divine Redeemer must die as a fellowship and be reborn as a congregation!”
I have chosen to focus my first year as your executive presbyter on New Worshipping Communities. Divine Redeemer is an example of how these new expressions of worship can be formed organically by a community that is willing to usher God’s presence into their space. Hector is a lay leader who preaches, teaches, and leads a vibrant community. And God is providing the increase.
Perhaps the Holy Spirit is touching your heart with ideas of creating a holy space where you are. It may be a prayer meeting, Bible discussion, or listening session. You may only have a living room or basement in which to gather.
After starting my insurance agency, I had a strong desire to start a church in my house. I imagined several people seated in the living room talking about the Bible, praying for one another and the world, and living transformed lives. I even had a similar idea of hosting it in my office. There was no support from my denomination and regretfully, I didn’t carry out either idea. The energy and imagination dissolved as I grew older and became surrounded by the cares of life.
I offer my testimony to encourage someone to form a New Worshipping Community while they have the desire to try. The presbytery supports your quiet ideas and initiatives. If you have a dream that needs nurturing, please email or call. The New Worshipping Community committee and presbytery staff are here to help.
Rev. Craig M. Howard