April 19, 2019
In June of 2016 the board of the ACT3 Network, a twenty-seven year old ministry for ecumenism, met at Green Lake, Wisconsin. The first item on the agenda was to discuss a plan for me as president of the mission to step down from full-time leadership.
During that board meeting the leadership asked, “Should we replace John, end this mission formally, or do something we’ve not yet considered?” The answer surprised the entire group. The Holy Spirit led us to come back to Green Lake in June of 2017 to plan for the beginning of a covenanted community committed to practicing and living Christian unity in the mission of Christ. Last year we invited anyone interested in learning about this community to join us at Green Lake. Some 65 adults came.
This new community will consist of lay and pastoral friends from all across North America. It will be a multi-generational, multi-ethnic and trans-denominational constituency of men and women. It will especially address our long and bitter divisions around racial and cultural issues that have kept Christians separated from Christians. We believe these divisions are scandalous and profoundly hinder the true calling of all our churches in North America.
On Sunday evening, June 23, people from all across the U.S. will come to Green Lake for an opening reception. This will not be a traditional conference for preachers, or for listening to preaching/teaching. Instead, it will be a time to share our stories of grace and reconciliation and to build friendships that can heal our differences. The potential for this movement to become something of great importance at this time in American church history strikes us as entirely possible if the Spirit comes and we are careful to hear God’s word to us. Our hope is that what God gives to us will be given to our respective churches in love.
If you are interested in this unique gathering at Green Lake you can find details at theinitiative.org. You do not have to commit to join this community to attend The Initiative in 2019. We expect many “friends” of The Initiative to attend who will not become members. This will happen for many good reasons. Our friends will be as involved as they choose. The Initiative will include Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox, Evangelicals and Charismatics.
All these meetings are open to any who desire to come and learn. Again, check out the website. If you have further questions direct them to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Registration should be completed before May 1. After this date we will address registration requests on a case-by-case basis if space is available. If you need financial help, please write to me at the address above. We will try to help people attend as we are able. The dates for future national gatherings of The Initiative, also to be held at Green Lake, will be: June 28-July 2, 2020, and June 20-24, 2021.
A pastor for 20 years, John Armstrong is the author of Your Church Is Too Small: Why Unity in Christ’s Mission is Vital to the Future of the Church, and Costly Love: The Way to True Unity for All the Followers of Jesus.