In Forward in Christ, we report the news but aren’t always able to follow up. Where are they now? is our way of giving you the rest of the story.
In January 2013, we gave you a glimpse into the ministry of Crown of Life, a congregation in southern California whose goal was to be one church with multiple services in multiple locations so that it could have the intimacy of a small church with the impact of a large church.
Here’s a recap:
Crown of Life was established in Corona, Calif., as a home mission in 1998. By November 2012 the 396-member congregation was holding four weekly services in three different locations and was served by two pastors. It saw potential for outreach in several other locations.
So where are they now?
Michael Johnson, pastor at Crown of Life, explains that in 2014 a sister congregation in Yucaipa, Calif., about 10 miles from Crown of Life’s Beaumont location, decided to close its doors and dissolve as a church because its numbers had dropped and the congregation was aging.
“When they closed,” says Johnson, “they offered us their building and property, and we began what we now call ‘saving sacred spaces.’ We gratefully accepted their generous offer, renovated and updated the building, and moved our Beaumont group to Yucaipa. We currently average 70s in Yucaipa with lots of young families and children attending.”
The Board for Home Missions believes that the practice of “saving sacred spaces” can be a valuable tool for outreach.
As Johnson explains, “In southern California and probably in many other places, WELS has struggling small congregations with land and buildings that are in danger of closing and the property being sold. In some areas, such as southern California, if we lose these sacred spaces, we may never be here again or it may cost us dearly to re-establish ourselves. For the sake of the souls around these sacred spaces, Crown of Life has included ‘saving sacred spaces’ as part of our multi-site mission.”
In May 2015, Crown of Life began working with St. Paul, Riverside, on a second “saving sacred spaces” project. The plan is for St. Paul’s, a small 45-year- old congregation with a church, to join with Crown of Life to better reach out with the gospel to those in the Riverside area. The group from Crown of Life that has been worshiping at a rented Riverside storefront plans to move to St. Paul’s church in the fall, and two services are planned to be held there each Sunday.
Mike Johnson, a member at Crown of Life, says, “I think what makes Crown of Life special is the vision and mission set by the pastors. I have been here from the beginning and have seen Crown of Life grow from one service to the five we currently have. They could have been satisfied with one campus but have been seekers of the lost and continue to move forward in the great commission.”
With its stated mission to “get the gospel to as many people as possible,” members of Crown of Life are thankful for how God has blessed their congregation but are not ready to slow down their aggressive outreach plan. In 2015, the congregation supported a vision of “6 by 20,” indicating its goal of establishing three more worship and outreach locations during the next five years.
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Volume 103, Number 7
Issue: July 2016
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