Dear Greenhouse Family,
We’ve just come through the Christmas season, a time when many send out family letters, updating friends and extended relations on the happenings of the past year. That is a perfect image for this letter, for God has brought together a family in Greenhouse that is a picture of the broader Church family. As we look forward to 2020, it is with joy that I share with you some of the stories of our family from 2019.
In the spring many of our family members gathered at our Annual Retreat, and we presented our Rule of Life, a covenant which includes commitments regarding the mission, life together, and personal walk of each Greenhouse missioner. As Greenhouse missioners seek to live out the gospel in the many different contexts in which God has led them, each one takes this general covenant and writes a personal rule of life that fits his/her individual context. You can find the Rule of Life on this webpage. We think you, like our missioners, will find it a very insightful covenant, and we hope it is helpful to you as well as you minister to the family of God in the ways he has set before you.
The Annual Retreat also kicked off the second of three Launch Weeks we held this past year. These launch weeks prepare missioner candidates to build a support team and be equipped to multiply churches and expand movements. This past year we had TEN amazing men and women (some with families) join Greenhouse. Through them we have expanded and strengthened robust partnerships in many places (see sidebar for list). We have two Launch Weeks coming up—what an exciting time for those who are sensing God leading them into this work.
Some of those joining Greenhouse are working specifically with Caminemos Juntos, our movement which brings together churches and Christian leaders throughout the Hispanic world. Caminemos Juntos, which means “let’s walk together,” celebrated its 10th anniversary in August. I thank God for a decade of this movement being used to unify the body of Christ, building bridges across borders.
Our church family in Chicagoland has seen God’s multiplication at work, as new churches have been planted in the past couple years (one of the most recent in Valparaiso, IN). This past year brought a deep sense of unified identity to all the Chicagoland churches, as we decided collectively to be one regional church known as Cornerstone. In the midst of this joyous process, the congregations on the Northside of Chicago were given a great opportunity by God when they were able to purchase a church building (there were definitely miracles in this process!). This building, which we share with a local Latino American congregation (we love new partnerships!), will function as the Northside Mission Center, a place for the church plants in that area to gather and hold services to which neighbors can be invited. The first such gathering took place on November 10, when we blessed and dedicated the space. More than 300 people gathered to celebrate, with members from African American, Latino, and white churches praying and worshiping together as one family. We were truly blessed by the presence of our African American brothers and sisters sharing their gifts with the entire family through the ministry of the Walk Across the Street Choir! Oh, I am so glad for the diverse partnerships in Greenhouse! It is truly a beautiful, joyous thing when we come together in harmony.
|Video of Walk Across the Street Choir at the Greenhouse Northside Mission Center Celebration on November 10th|
The Greenhouse family also experienced harmony through the work of United Adoration (UA), a movement focused on worship through songwriting. Building partnerships globally, UA leaders from the United States met with leaders from All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi, Kenya.
Together they cast a vision for the African church to write and sing its own worship music and to mentor and train musicians to lead churches into worship. All Saints hosted a United Adoration Africa event in August, and a followup songwriting retreat has already been held in Burundi—at which over 30 songs were written for local churches to sing!
Other partnerships were deepened during GAFCON (the Global Anglican Future Conference), held in Dubai this past summer. Campus Crusade (Cru) leaders were present at the conference, and Greenhouse was a catalyst for the Global Anglican Fellowship and Cru joining forces to distribute Cru backpacks with the Jesus Film throughout the world. Cru and Greenhouse are also partnering in the Chicago Campus Initiative (CCI), led by Fr. Nate Beasley. Over the next ten years the vision of CCI is to reach 30 campuses in Chicago that do not have a thriving gospel movement. The first step in this vision is a Fellows Program, a two-year internship that brings in young women and men to serve as Greenhouse and Cru staff. They receive theological and pastoral formation in the church while serving on campuses in the city.
These partnerships deepen existing family ties while drawing more people into the family! At GAFCON I was made leader of the Global Mission Partnerships Network, and I am so excited about more partnerships forming to increase the depth and breadth of the family of God! And I am so grateful for the partnership we have formed with YOU! Your prayers, support, and love encourage us in this work. It is a joy to be family with you.