Blending Welcoming Congregations

Rev. Roland Stringfellow

Clergy and congregations are supporting each other in very unique ways in the Coalition of Welcoming Congregations throughout the Bay Area.

East County Shared Ministry (200 E. Leland Rd., Pittsburg, CA) is a blend of two congregations that have merged their worship into one – Community Presbyterian of Pittsburg and First Congregational Church of Antioch.  I was invited to be their guest speaker on January 15 for their Martin Luther King themed service.   The energy and hospitality of these two congregations that have joined together on a common mission to outreach to their community was high on that day.  It was also “Glitter Sunday” where people were encouraged to wear glittery tinsel as a symbol of their joy and welcome.  Both pastors, Rev. Will McGarvey and Rev. Christy Parks-Ramagehave, have long standing reputations in the Bay Area and in their respective denominations as standing strong for the inclusion of all people in their community.

Fremont Community Church (38255 Blacow Rd, Fremont) and New Seeds of Faith Ministry (a home ministry also in Fremont) hosted a joint service of their two congregations on January 29.  Both clergy, Rev. David Borglum and Rev. Cherie Brumfield, met at the Coalition of Welcoming Congregation’s Clergy Retreat hosted in South San Francisco in August 2011 and were encouraged during that time to get to know other leaders in their area.  The two had met several times and hosted joint events for both congregations.  The worship on January 29 was the first time joining their services together.  Unlike the East County Shared Ministry, these congregations are not merging their congregations together.  I was also honored to be the guest speaker for this joint worship, which was a blend of up tempo praise and worship music with traditional hymns led by a choir.  The mix was beautiful and a testament to how bridges can be built and crossed on the issue of inclusion.  Both congregations will become members of the Coalition of Welcoming Congregations by utilizing the “guest preaching” option to make their membership dues.  We gladly welcome both congregations as members of the CWC!

Blessings to these blended ministries in Pittsburg and Fremont!

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