Our Missional Invitation

“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment,
for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse.
Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins.

If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined.
No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”

~ Matthew 9:16-17 (NIV)

There are special times appointed by God for turning and transformation; for a new thing to spring forth. These times, called kairos moments, are characterized by a stirring of the Spirit that invokes fear, hope, and excitement. We believe the Church broadly-speaking, and the PC(USA) in particular, is living through one of these moments in regard to our life together.

Fresh expressions of faith are springing up all around, even as older expressions are passing away. The Church at every level, from individual congregations to national denominational bodies, is examining anew what it means to be and do church. That is why in 2021 the Presbytery of Northeast New Jersey was formed to be a fresh expression of faith serving the communities along the Hudson River and Newark Bay (Bergen, Passaic, Hudson, Essex, and Union Counties). “As the Church seeks reform and fresh direction, it looks to Jesus Christ who goes ahead of us and calls us to follow him. United with Christ in the power of the Spirit, the Church seeks ‘not [to] be conformed to this world, but [to] be transformed by the renewing of [our] minds, so that [we] may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect’ (Rom. 12:2)” [F-1.0401].

For decades, our congregations, and thus our presbyteries, have been declining in membership until, like a tiny congregation in a huge old building, most of our time, energy, and resources are spent maintaining outdated and inefficient structures and systems, to the detriment of our mission as the body of Christ in the world. The Presbytery of Northeast New Jersey believes this is a time to radically change the structure and function of our presbytery; to embrace an understanding of our role as a spiritual community rather than a legal and administrative organization.

As we begin this new work and rejoice in the movement of the Spirit, we celebrate the long history and the good and faithful work of our former presbyteries in Newark, Elizabeth and the Palisades. These old wineskins were wonderful containers for the old wine, but the new movement of the Spirit in this kairos moment calls for a new sort of structure. Like wineskins, the new structure we are co-creating for the Presbytery of Northeast NJ is only a container, designed not for its own sake, but to hold and preserve its contents. In this instance, the contents are a Spirit-filled missional community that remains responsive to the changing contextual realities and the leading of the Spirit.

Come join us on this journey of change and help create this new thing God is calling us to become.

Adapted from the Invitation to Participate in New Jersey New Missional Communities – February 2019