Recently I met with Rev. Mike Natale of Faith Chapel Lutheran Brethren Church in Cranston, Rhode Island. In addition to serving at Faith Chapel, Mike is the Director of Cultivate New England. Mike and I met in a small town in eastern Connecticut, a place where we’d met previously with our Cultivate New England leadership team. In those past meetings, I was pastor of Praise Christian Fellowship, in Barkhamsted, Connecticut and very much involved in Cultivate New England’s leadership team. I’ve since accepted the role of Associate Director of North American Mission for the CLB, and I’m charged with overseeing church planting efforts. It’s a huge blessing to continue as part of Cultivate New England in my new role, and to assist them in their efforts to plant a church in Boston, Massachusetts. On this day, I met with Mike so he could share directly with us the latest news from Cultivate New England—a partnership of the three CLB congregations located in New England working together to plant more Lutheran Brethren churches in New England (You can read about the origins of this partnership at: www.CLBA.org/Cultivate-New-England).
Ryan: What’s the news from Cultivate New England (CNE)?
Michael: Several months back, a group of us from our three churches (Bethany LBC, East Hartland, CT; Praise Christian Fellowship, Barkhamsted, CT; and Faith Chapel LBC, Cranston, RI) gathered in Boston for a prayer walk. Around 10 a.m. we met outside Quincy Market. After a short meet and greet, we broke into four groups. Each group was given a map with a different path through the city that would eventually bring us all back to the Boston Commons. Following an opening prayer each group took off following their map. My group’s first major monument was City Hall Plaza. As we marveled at its structural beauty, a plaque on the building caught my attention. Here is what the plaque said:
BOSTON: AN IMMIGRANT’S GATEWAY
“America’s promise has drawn people from all corners of the world to Boston, in search of a better life for themselves and their families. Their traditions and values have become the fabric of our neighborhoods. Here in Boston we seek to fulfill that promise by providing a life filled with peace, dignity, and opportunity for all who make this great city their home.”
— Boston Mayor Raymond Flynn
This quote was a powerful start to our prayer walk, because it reminded us of what Paul said in Philippians 4:7, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
True peace is found in God and our hope is that this church plant will help more people to know that truth.
More recently, in a continuation of our desire to cover this church plant in prayer, our three churches gathered together at Bethany in East Hartland for an afternoon event. We enjoyed a meal together, we had a time for worship, followed by a time of prayer, and then you, Ryan, shared a message of encouragement with those present. It was a great time for our churches to connect and to rally around our common goal of seeing the kingdom of God furthered here in New England by planting more churches.
Ryan: What’s next for CNE?
Michael: Last month a group of us went into Boston and filmed a promotional video with the help of videographer Micah Nordtvedt. This video will debut soon on our Facebook page, so keep an eye out for it.
Currently we are in the process of talking with and assessing potential church planters. This process has been made easier with the help of Fifth Act Church Planting, who have been helping us run our assessments.
We have also been gathering information and intel about specific locations in Boston to assist the potential planter once they are called.
Ryan: What do you think other churches can learn from what you’re doing?
Michael: I pray that CNE encourages other congregations all across North America to ask the question, “Can we gather together with other churches in our area and do something like this?” Our denomination has strong roots in evangelism, and we want to see people come to know Christ. We know one way that’s possible is by reaching into our community and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. This was the main reason CNE was founded—we want to see the kingdom of God expand in New England. But we’d love to see the same thing happen all across North America and we hope to work with other like-minded clusters.
With that in mind, we at CNE would love to talk to you and would gladly share our findings and resources with any churches interested, so please feel free to reach out to one of us and ask.
Ryan: How can people keep in touch with what is happening?
Michael: Great question. People can stay connected in a number of different ways. We currently have a Facebook page and an Instagram page up and running (search “Cultivate New England”). We have used both of those platforms to post many updates, and each week we use them to highlight a different location in or around Boston and encourage people to pray for that location. Each post has a picture of the area and gives a short write up on the community. It’s a great introduction to Boston and the surrounding area.
We are also in the process of launching a new website that will not only have updates and pictures on it, but also have more background information about CNE and resources to share (www.cultivatenewengland.org).
Ryan: How can people support CNE?
Michael: First and foremost, we are asking people to pray for this endeavor. Prayer is so important and we in CNE are firm believers that if this is going to happen, God is going to be the one doing it. From the start we have acknowledged the importance of bathing this process in prayer and patiently allowing God to lead us moving forward.
Second, if you’d like to support us financially you can do so in four different ways (two directly and two indirectly): First, by giving to the CLB Eastern Region. They have been encouraging us since our conception and will continue to invest in us in the future. Second, by giving to North American Mission. When you support them, you are also supporting us. They have been a great help and encouragement to us as we’ve progressed forward. Never forget, we are all part of the Church of the Lutheran Brethren and when one of us succeeds, we all succeed. Thirdly, we have set up an account with PayPal that allows people to give electronically (a link can be found on our Facebook page). And the last way is by sending a check directly to the CLB, earmarked specifically for Cultivate New England.
Ryan: Thanks, Mike, for sharing this with us today. We can really see the momentum building for this project.
Rev. Ryan Nilsen is Associate Director of North American Mission for the Church of the Lutheran Brethren.