Still time to apply for ‘Growing With Hope’ learning community

June 30, 2015

The leaders of HopeGateWay, a United Methodist community in Portland, ME, are happy to offer “Growing With Hope,” a year-long learning community for local church teams, beginning with its second cohort group in October. Building upon the lessons they’ve learned, the mistakes they’ve made, and the ways they’ve grown, HopeGateWay leaders have developed this program to help local congregations, in their unique contexts, reflect upon their identity, embrace change, take risks, live out their calling, ?and serve God in new ways. 

With a few remaining spots open for church teams, the application deadline for the 2015-2016 “Growing With Hope” cohort group, has been extended to Aug. 1. Applications are received and considered as they are received, so interested congregations are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.
Church teams of 4-6 persons each, including the pastor, are invited to apply to participate in the program.

This program is designed to support, challenge, and equip teams from each church to move to a deeper level of living out their mission.  Throughout this process congregations will discover and develop the gifts within their congregation for vitality; be equipped and challenged to take risks for deeper ministry and mission; and engage their local community in new ways. The process will utilize a collaborative approach, building on questions, stories, and conversations to encourage creative thinking and courageous risk-taking. Participating teams will learn from each another — from both failures and successes.  
The deadline for applying is Aug. 1, 2015, and the first weekend session is Oct. 2-4. A maximum of eight churches will be invited to participate. Further information is available at

Here's what three participating pastors in this previous year's cohort group have said about the program:

“Growing with Hope has helped the Main Street United Methodist Church, located in Nashua, NH, to think more clearly about the changes that have taken place in our cultural context while we ourselves are going through a period of significant transition.  We have been able to be more deliberative in thinking about our context as a downtown church and to think more creatively about how we can be the church of Jesus Christ in this setting.  Our Growing with Hope team would highly recommend this experience to any other church that is seeking to be authentic in its own unique context as well.”   — Rev. Rich Cullen, Main Street United Methodist Church, Nashua, NH

"Growing with Hope provided an answer to our prayers…The congregation of Hedding UMC in Barre VT recognized the need to do church in a new way, but just did not know how to start. We sent a team to Growing With Hope and learned new ways to understand our context and engage in mission and ministry with our community. Sharing the journey with other congregations inspired us to risk trying new things as we continue to discern God's call to us to do and be church in this time and place."  — Rev. Kim E. Kie, Hedding United Methodist Church, Barre, VT

"Our church had been through a number of visioning workshops where we asked each other what we wanted to do, and most of these initiatives fell flat after a few months or years. Growing With Hope uses a community-driven discovery and discernment model which challenges our church to listen to what God is calling us to do, very different from expressing our preferences and wants that are our traditional comfort zone. When we used the tools and techniques in our team to listen to the community around us, we saw real needs not being met — and for the first time in a long time, felt like we were doing God's work helping others in the way they needed help, not imposing ourselves on something that wasn't needed or wanted. What a difference this has made in our congregation! We are eager to continue the journey and see the amazing ways we will grow in faith for our members and the community around us!"  — Rev. Mark, Brockmeier, Townsend Congregational Church, UCC, Townsend, MA 

Paul Nixon – author, New Church Strategist with Path 1, and director of Epicenter Group – says:
"HopeGateWay in Portland, ME is an amazing place and people who are reinventing mainline Protestant ministry for a new generation. They are featured in the Pilgrim Press book We Refused to Lead a Dying Church. For any church team to sojourn with them for a time would be incredibly fruitful."