When did your network start?
The Englewood network was birthed over ten years ago. The initiative was launched through a concerted effort to call every pastor/church in the Englewood area with a request to gather for the dual purpose of praying for each other and for this great city. We made it clear from inception that the unity that we are to experience would stand on two planks. The first plank is a passion for Jesus, and the second plank is a fervency to see city-wide renewal.
At the beginning, we were a small band consisting of three churches. We gathered faithfully every month to pray for each other and the city. In the first five years, there was a lot of trust cultivated because of the presence of two essential vitamins: commitment and vulnerability. The group that gathered was incredibly faithful and committed to the cause. Also, the pastors were raw and real as they shared their ministry struggles. It has been more than a handful of times that pastors came in ready to quit and left encouraged and invigorated with fresh hope. Eventually this core of three churches grew to five. We continued to celebrate as we saw God filling vacant pulpits with fervent shepherds whose hearts were already glowing with a desire to see Jesus lifted up over the city. God was bringing pioneers that were Gospel grounded, mission driven and Spirit filled.
Currently, we have ten churches on board. In many ways, our early years of forging unity together led to our first season of visible harvest in 2010, when we discerned that God was calling us to come together for a Pentecost service as a physical expression of unity. Eight churches gathered in worship for our first annual Pentecost Service on May 23, 2010. We envisioned a kingdom partnership with the diverse streams of Christ’s body in Englewood. We were committed to this vision in which barriers of denomination, culture, race, politics, and economics and overcome by the living waters of Jesus Christ. We wanted see this kingdom partnership being expressed through joint participation in a city-wide celebration and a common strategic city initiative.
Leading up to our first UNITEnglewood service in 2010, we rented an “Upper Room” space in downtown Englewood, where seven churches came together for twenty-four-hour, seven-days-a week prayer for fifty days. The last hour of prayer was the first hour at the worship service. Also, leading up to the service we did pulpit swaps and other worship and prayer events. During the service we had six testimony’s of healing (spiritual and physical) and then an altar call.
The city mayor and the city council were present. Following the service they initiated a meeting to discuss how the city and the churches could partner up and share resources, and the city has been experiencing new levels of cooperative breakthroughs ever since.
What are you focused on now?
The UNITEnglewood Pastors Prayer Network prays every Wed. for our city at 7 AM at City Center Community under the spiritual cover of HOPE (House Of Prayer Englewood). In many ways the lines between our churches have blurred as we have come together to share resources and support one another’s ministries, and our Pentecost Gatherings have become annual events. Our current focuses are on a city-wide “Neighboring Movement” and the “Giving Heart Englewood” homeless initiative, both designed to usher God’s Kingdom of Peace into our city in transformative new ways.