In the spring of 2019, Dayspring and Aldersgate UMC voted to move into a cooperative parish agreement with the dream of transforming the two separate churches into one Dayspring with two campuses, Tempe and Arcadia. This partnership has the opportunity for both campuses to live out our mission to transform the church and the world into a full expression of Christ’s inclusive love in ways that are contextualized for each unique neighborhood. Over the past 9 months, we’ve been at work building relationships between the two churches, assessing the myriad logistics of becoming one church, and getting to know the neighborhood around Aldersgate.
Aldersgate United Methodist Church just celebrated the 69th anniversary of their founding in February. We were able to celebrate this milestone with two of the charter members, now in their late 80s and 90s, sharing stories of being teen-aged leaders in starting the church. They reminisced about the church’s start in a local school before they built their first sanctuary, which is now the fellowship named for the founding pastor, Rev. Strivings. The anniversary service was followed by a luncheon well attended by current members, former members and their families. The people of Aldersgate have an incredibly rich legacy of care, concern for their neighbors near and far and abiding love for their church. It has been a pleasure to be welcomed into their community and be part of the work to continue that legacy in partnership with Dayspring.
Our relationship with the congregation at Aldersgate continues to strengthen. As we head into a period of intentional planning for the launch of Dayspring Arcadia this fall, I’d like to encourage anyone with interest to visit their 11:00am Sunday service and fellowship time after service at least once. It’s a great chance to meet the wonderful people with whom we’re partnering, hear the stories of the legacy of the church.
With regard to logistics, we are continuing to do due diligence. Our district superintendent is working with the conference chancellor (legal advisor) on considerations from property transfers to contract liability. We have completed a building inspection and are awaiting the report from that to understand any potential maintenance needs. From there, we will formalize a more complete financial plan in partnership with the Conference New Faith team who is highly supportive of the work we have been, and plan to do.
The work ahead can best be described as two distinct but related workstreams. One is to go through the exciting process of transitioning Aldersgate to be part of Dayspring with a “launch” process. We need to go outside our walls in both Tempe and Arcadia/Phoenix in order to reach new people. With the support of the Conference New Faith team, we recently engaged the services of a multi-site church consultant to help advise on what steps would be necessary for a smooth transition including timelines, readiness assessments and lay leadership development. If you feel that you are called to be part of this process, please let Joel or myself know!
The second, but equally important part is to develop new expressions of our faith community. We are already starting to bring a Dayspring presence into the Arcadia community. The Dayspring Tempe Wednesday Evening Fellowship class on Compassion is going on the road! It’s being offered both at Aldersgate and also at the Starbucks at 28th St. and Indian School for 4 weeks starting March 2 at 6:30pm (all are welcome to attend!). This will be our first official class venture out into the community and we’re excited to see what else may follow. For those of you who lead other Dayspring events/ meetings/classes, please consider if you may be able to host an event in the Arcadia neighborhood or develop duplicate offerings, one Tempe-based and one Arcadia-based!
As many of you have rightly mentioned, the neighborhood around Aldersgate is incredibly diverse with respect to ethnicity, socio-economic levels, education, language and the list goes on! If we hope to be a thriving neighborhood church, our work must rely heavily on getting to know the neighborhood and the people who live there. We have begun outreach with local community organizations and churches to start that process. If anyone lives or works in the area around Aldersgate or has friends or colleagues that do, I’d love to talk to you or take advantage of an introduction. Getting to know people will help us learn more so that we can ensure our church is community focused and considered the diversity of the neighborhood.
The excitement around this effort has been amazing. Although there are still many questions to answer, it seems that our movement into this new work, though not always steady continues to move us into new relationships and new possibilities for the future. One of our Dayspring friends shared the wisdom with me about the importance of prayer in our work. It’s easy to get caught up in the project management/logistics of this major endeavor, but we cannot lose track that God is guiding us to be in relationship in new ways with a world in need in this process. I would ask that each of us consider this Dayspring/Aldersgate work in our prayer-life or meditation. That may mean prayers for the people of Aldersgate, Dayspring, or the people in our respective neighborhoods. It may mean prayers for guidance on where we as a people, or each of us as individuals, may be lead. It may be contemplating a map of Phoenix or a picture of one of either church’s stained glass and listening for direction. All prayers are needed!
As we move into the next months, we will host additional information sessions as we move towards another charge conference on March 22 to vote on continuing to move forward with this exciting work.
– Amy Notbohm
DAYSPRING ARCADIA UPDATES:
- MARCH 1: 11:30am, Palo Verde Room
- MARCH 4: 6pm, Palo Verde Room
- MARCH 11: 6pm, Palo Verde Room
CHURCH CONFERENCE: the opportunity to vote on if and how to move forward with the Arcadia neighborhood is March 22 at 2pm in the Palo Verde Room