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Texas Churches Celebrate Our Journey 2025

June 29, 2022
Participants discuss a milestone from <em>Our Journey 2025</em> at an event in Texas. OR Participants gather to celebrate Our Journey 2025 at an event in Texas.
Participants discuss a milestone from Our Journey 2025 at an event in Texas.
Photo: Donn Hansum

Ministry leaders from 19 churches, church plants, and other ministry organizations gathered  Sat., May 14, at New Life CRC in Spring, Tex., for a day of encouragement, worship, prayer, and shared learning. The theme of the day focused on the four milestones of the CRC’s Our Journey 2025 ministry plan.

Presenters from around the state led sessions on each of the four milestones. Retired pastor Roger DeYoung led the discussion of the first milestone, “Cultivate Practices of Prayer and Spiritual Discipline,” with a focus on slowing down and hearing from God. He noted that this is a timely reminder after a rough two years dealing with the pandemic.

Trisha Taylor from The Leader’s Journey suggested a variety of tools and practices on how to listen better in her presentation on the milestone “Listen to the Voice of Every Generation.”

In a session on how to “Grow in Diversity and Unity by Seeking Justice, Reconciliation, and Welcome,” Dave Hornor, pastor of Peace Community CRCin Houston, Tex., noted that Houston is one of the most diverse cities in the U.S., and he challenged participants to appreciate cultural differences and to engage with what unites us and what makes us distinct as CRC leaders together.

Discussing the fourth milestone, “Share the Gospel, Live it Missionally, and Plant New Churches,” Andy Sytsma, pastor of host church New Life CRC, spoke about living on mission personally and what this can also mean collectively. “We focused on Vision 2018 – our plan to plant 18 new CRCs in Houston in the next 20 years,” said Sytsma. He added, “Since this is already happening, it was fun to see all the new church planters with us.”

Each Ted-talk style presentation was followed by breakout group discussions on how to apply the milestones in a local church context.

Participant Maggie Rollinson from Sunrise CRC, Austin, Tex., said, “Work has been so overwhelming lately, so to be able to get away and attend this event was uplifting, and it rejuvenated me. It was a good time to recharge.”

Participating churches included New Life CRC (Spring), Peace Community CRC (Houston), Hope CRC (Houston), Sunrise CRC (Austin), and Stephenville (Tex.) CRC . Church plants attending included Vida Nueva CRC (Spring), Casa de Oración CRC (Spring), Peace Community Daughter CRC (Houston), Hope Daughter CRC (Houston), Kadosh Emmanuel CRC (Houston), and International Peacemaking Church of Christ CRC (Irving, Tex.). Other ministries represented were Ascending Leaders, Square Inch Houston, Sunrise Navigation Center, New Life Community Christian School, The Leader’s Journey, Volunteers in Action, Classis Rocky Mountain, and Resonate Global Mission.

Sytsma said he was excited that so many people showed up, considering that this was the first time they had tried an event like this. “The fellowship and food were great. The speakers and breakout discussions were engaging. And most of all we saw people really enjoying both time spent in prayer/worship as well as time spent building relationships.”

Much of the planning for the event was done by Stacey Frith-Smith, recently hired by Classis Rocky Mountain as classis deacon coordinator for Texas. Sytsma noted that one of the tasks in Frith-Smith’s job description is to gather the lay leaders in Texas together. “We envisioned something like a day of encouragement that other classes have done,” Sytsma explained. In bringing together the event, he said, Frith-Smith “modeled what we are trying to do: strengthen and empower lay leaders in our churches, church plants, and ministries so that they can live into God’s calling to equip the rest of us for God’s kingdom work.”

To facilitate diversity and discussion for all participants, the day’s presentations and discussions were translated to the audience in Spanish.

Classis leaders said they hope to make this kind of leadership-building gathering an annual event with the Texas Christian Reformed churches.

Summer 2022 marks the halfway point of the five-year ministry plan. CRCNA leaders hope to see other churches use this milestone as an opportunity to explore the plan, discuss how it can enhance local ministry and outreach, and encourage fellowship and learning among CRC congregations.