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"Dramatically Different" Faith Fellowship

To Figure in School of Congregational Development

General Board of Global Ministries
The United Methodist Church

475 Riverside Drive
New York, NY 10115

Tel: 212/870-3921


New York, NY, June 4, 2008--A college first-year student who consults the online "Student Guide to Pittsburgh" will find only two listings under the heading "churches/worship services."

One of those is "Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community" on the Steel City's South Side near the historic Hot Metal Bridge. If the student shows up at Hot Metal on Sunday, or most any evening except Friday, she will find a church with a difference. In fact, Hot Metal describes itself as "dramatically different," a reference to emphasis on sharing "the story of God through drama and the arts." The focus is on young adults.

Hot Metal meets in a Goodwill Industries' building as well as other sites. It teaches that Jesus both loved people and loved to eat. "The Table" is the Tuesday evening free meal, not only for the underfed but also for spiritual nourishment: "We believe some of the best conversations happen around a dinner table." This emphasis is fitting, since the bridge itself may be named for the nearby Hot Metal Grille. Bible study is on Monday evening; congregational worship on Thursdays.

Hot Metal Church, a four-year-old United Methodist-Presbyterian joint new church start, will be among the models examined at this year's United Methodist School of Congregational Development, meeting July 31 to August 5 in two locations, Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Orlando, Florida.

Hot Metal Church is the centerpiece in one of eight ministry tracks at school section in Grand Rapids, where the Cornerstone United Methodist Church is the host congregation. Holy Communion in Hot Metal's dramatic style will be shared from Grand Rapids via electronic links between the two sites.

There will be equally exciting ministry tracks among the 12 offered in Orlando. New this year is "Restructuring Your Ministry," led by the Rev. Bill Barnes and his staff at the thriving St. Luke's United Methodist Church, the Orlando host congregation.

All major services of worship and plenary addresses will be common via telecommunications in the two locations, some originating in Grand Rapids and others in Orlando.

The track featuring Hot Metal Church is entitled "Head Wounds: Practicing Koinonia in a Fractured World" and will be led by the Rev. Jim Walker, the United Methodist pastor of the Pittsburgh fellowship, and the Rev. Chris Heckert, who heads the communications unit of the General Board of Global Ministries. Mr. Walker will officiate at the linked service of communion.

The annual School of Congregational Development is a joint project of Global Ministries and the General Board of Discipleship. In the recent past, a school at a single location has drawn between 600 and 700 pastors, lay leaders, district superintendents, and bishops.

Two locations connected by technology were planned this year to take account of differing demographic realities in various parts of the United States. The Grand Rapids program is geared more toward urban and rural congregations typical of northeastern and north central areas of declining or level populations; the Orlando event is geared more toward southern regions across the whole country where populations are expanding.

Both take account of increasing immigrant communities.

The Orlando school will feature ministry tracks dealing with African American, Korean, Hispanic/Latino, and multicultural congregations. Tracks for bishops, district superintendents, and annual conference leaders will also be in Orlando.

Shared-site plenary presentations will take account of the broad spectrum of United Methodist congregations and congregational development possibilities.

At both locations, the Sunday in the schedule will include visits to local "teaching churches" and interactions with clergy and lay leaders of those congregations.

Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño of Phoenix is the keynote speaker and will address the topic of the "Spiritual Life of the Leader."

Other plenary speakers include:

  • The Rev. Jose Acevedo, Grace Church, Coral Gables, Florida

  • The Rev. Bill Barnes, St. Luke's United Methodist Church, Orlando, Florida

  • The Rev. Mark Beeson, Granger Community Church, Granger, Indiana

  • The Rev. Brad Kalajainen, Cornerstone Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan

  • The Rev. Ed Jones, Living Water United Methodist Church, Pearland, Texas

  • Carol Howard Merritt, author of The Tribal Church: Ministering to the Missing Generation.

In addition to ministry tracks, each school includes a group of "core seminars" that cover such topics as leadership styles, the role of music in starting new churches, creative preaching, and other practical issues.

The registration fee, covering some meals, is $425 per person. Participants can register online at and also link there to sites for making hotel reservations. Full schedules are available at the website. Individuals and conference groups make their own travel arrangements.


See Also...

Topic: Education Evangelism Evangelization GBGM events
Geographic Region: United States
Source: GBGM Press Releases
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Date posted: Jun 06, 2008