A church plant in a mostly white county draws upon its unique gifts — including music from classical and black church traditions — to attract worshippers and respond to the needs of the community.

 

When St. John’s Compton Presbyterian Church on the outskirts of Los Angeles closed in the late 1960s, the mostly white congregation designated a portion of its residual funds for a black church to be planted in Orange County someday.

“Someday” came nearly 40 years later in the form of New Hope Presbyterian Church (link is external) in Orange, California. It’s headed by the Rev. Chineta Goodjoin, a native of South Carolina who brought to California her unique vision of what the church could be.

New Hope is known for its music, but that’s just part of the church’s mission, which has expanded during the nine years of Goodjoin’s ministry to respond to the needs of the diverse communities it serves in dynamic and creative ways.

In addition to hosting an annual benefit concert to raise money for a local public school that lost its music program, the congregation is working to address social justice issues, from gun violence and racial reconciliation to economic stewardship.

What are your organization’s core gifts and talents? How can they be used to connect with the community?

Goodjoin wanted to get to know the community and figure out the community’s needs — and help meet those needs.

“My focus is not on bucks in the plates and butts in the seats,” she said. “My focus is, ‘But, God, how can we help these people? But God, what do we do with our gifts and talents so that those around us know that they matter?’ …

 

Read the rest of the article here New Hope in Duke University Faith & Leadership Magazine