; charset=UTF-8" /> 2014 Annual Gathering Report from the Urban Mission New Church Start Planter : Connecting Voices
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2014 Annual Gathering Report from the Urban Mission New Church Start Planter

Urban Mission LogoIn the first quarter of 2013 the Board of Directors approved a Call Agreement with myself to plant a new church, UrbanMission, in the city of Pomona at the site of the previous El Buen Pastor church. This new ministry is to be a joint venture with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

Under the leadership of our Conference Minister, the UrbanMission church-planting model was developed to envision an alternative way to church planting. Guided by the same four core values that guide our Conference, UrbanMission seeks to embody God’s love and grace with the people immediately surrounding our headquarters.

The UrbanMission ModelUrban Mission 1

The UrbanMission model an open-sourced, networked, and modular alternative to the traditional worship-event-centered models. In this model, the leader identifies and empowers leaders within the community of faith to develop and lead the ministries of the church. Within this model, the worship event, while extremely important to the life of the community, is but one of the many ministries that make up UrbanMission. Whereas a traditional church plant would measure success by worship attendance numbers, the UM model measures its success by the number of lives directly impacted by its many ministries. These are the current UM ministries: UM Worship, UM Kids!, UM Hot Meals, UM Art Collective, UM on Tap (Pub theology), and Another Chance @ UM (a DOC prison ministry headquartered at UM). We have plans to add several more ministries in the near future.

Urban Mission 3The networked nature of UM allows for our different ministries to interact with one another while still being driven by their respective leader’s passion. For example, our UM Art Collective can interact with the UM Kids! ministry by providing art classes or worshipful art for the children’s worship space. Our UM on Tap ministry can cooperate with the UM Hot Meals ministry and provide an opportunity for two communities that very seldom interact with one another serve the community. Each ministry is guided by the same four core values, but interprets them in light of its mission.

The Story So farUrban Mission groceries

I have spent a great deal of my time developing relationships with our neighbors and promoting the concept of a welcoming and inclusive church. This has not been an easy task as there are many cultural and theological bridges that need to be crossed. Yet, the conversations that I’ve had with many of our prospective members, both individually and in small groups, show a genuine desire to learn from one another and a thirst to listen to the Spirit.

We have worked with a local food bank to distribute bags of groceries and have partnered with Damien High School in La Verne to serve a hot, holiday meal to our community. So far we have served close to 500 meals and distributed over 200 hygiene care kits during Christmas and Easter.

The Disciples Seminary Foundation in Claremont supported us by providing an intern during the Fall and Spring semesters to promote pro-reconciliation and anti-racism.Urban Mission 4

Our property is in need of much repair and we have been fortunate to count with several hard-working volunteers who have helped transform our parsonage into the new children’s worship space. In the near future we hope to continue the transformation of the rest of our facilities.

Our Sacred Conversations and worship gatherings have seen a steady increase in attendance despite their “closed” nature and we have plans to begin our marketing campaign closer to our official “launch month”, September 2014. We are currently worshipping with a small group of about 10 but have heard from several Claremont School of Theology students who have expressed interest in worshipping with us.

My Story So Far

I just completed the second year of my M.Div. studies at Claremont School of Theology and plan on graduating in May 2015 with my ordination following shortly after. I’ve connected with several Pomona-based non-profit organizations as well as with the Pomona valley chapter of Progressive Christians Uniting. I serve on the DOC Pacific Southwest Region’s Board of Directors, and Committee on Ministry, as well as in several DOC regional ministries such as the Church in Society, a committee responsible for assisting regional and local congregations in developing an awareness of justice issues, and One Church Ministry, seeking to promote multicultural inclusiveness in all aspects of church life.

My wife is currently expecting our second daughter and is due just as the Fall semester begins, so your prayers will be greatly, greatly appreciated…even more so if they’re accompanied by lots and lots of coffee!


Al Lopez
Church Planter, UrbanMission


Other Annual Gathering Reports:

Report from the Conference Board Chair

Report from the Executive Associate Conference Minister

Report from the Associate Conference Minister for Church Relations

Report from the Conference Youth Minister

Report from the Acting Young Adult Ministries Coordinator

Report form the Urban Mission New Church Start Planter


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