So what is the story of NewStory? As you read through the history of this “scrappy Jesus church,” we hope you will find yourself in this story. We hope it will be used to restore and repair what has been broken.
Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign. But stories can also be used to empower, and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people. But stories can also repair that broken dignity.Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author
NewStory Church began as the Edgewater campus of Community Christian Church in the Fall of 2010 when our first pastors, Rich and Dori Gorman, moved to Chicago. NewStory began as an experimental project to discover how churches can be planted with community development as a part of the core work. As Rich Gorman stated at the time, “We don’t just want to be a good church, we want to play a role in cultivating a good neighborhood.”
Worship services begin on Sunday evenings. The first worship service was held in the Gorman’s apartment and consisted of two people, the pastors. The feeling was that the church always gathers, so even if there’s only two people, we gather and worship. As Dori says, “I preached and Rich led worship. The offering was horrible, but it was a start.” The first gatherings were called “Static Free” and focused on worship and contemplative prayer. Rich claimed, “We assume that God is always speaking and working. So it’s up to us to dial down the static of our lives caused by the hurry, worry and pressure of our lives so that we can discern what God is already doing in and through our lives.”
Community partnerships with the 48th Ward Alderman’s Office and other community partners such as the Edgewater Chamber of Commerce, All-American Nursing Home, Care For Real, World Relief Chicago, Peterson Garden Project and Andersonville Farmers Market begin to take shape. One of NewStory’s summer traditions, Chill-n-Grills started this spring. We also started #ChalkTheBlock in the early spring of 2011.
The Sunday “Static Free” gatherings outgrow the Gorman’s apartment and moves to the Edge Gallery (1610 W. Highland). Over the next few months, the gathering continues to grow, worship leaders join the staff team, and summer interns arrive.
Alderman Harry Osterman introduces NewStory leadership to Swift Elementary School. The worship services move to Sunday mornings at Swift Elementary School during the summer of 2012. We officially “launched” on September 9, 2012.
God opens doors for the church to deepen in 4 specific justice initiatives: Racial Justice, Mental Health Justice, Education Justice, Environmental Justice. We settle into 3 intentional seasonal rhythms, Fall, Winter/Spring and Summer. Our children’s and student ministries also grow during this time, adding new staff to lead and guide these age groups. Year-long residents also join the staff team to learn more about church planting and community development.
Community Edgewater officially re-launches as NewStory Church. Same pastors, same school, same church – but a new name with a renewed vision for joining God in God’s good work in Edgewater, Rogers Park and Uptown. At this time, the vision is summed up by this statement:
We are a vibrant, multi-ethnic, and welcoming community of people who are committed to accepting God’s invitation to write a new story in and through our lives.
The first crew of elders is installed. Sam Boyd, Esther Kim, Mike Lueders, Sue Lueders, Bill Hicks become the “Direction and Discernment Team” as the primary role of the elders is to discern God’s leading and direct our steps to follow.
Sergio Diaz-Ramos becomes the Associate Pastor leading worship teams. He is only the second full-time paid staff member.
In faith, through love, and with unity, Pastors and Elders of NewStory Church unanimously supported the direction as a church family toward full inclusion for our LGBTQ siblings by announcing:
At NewStory Church we welcome all persons and families to participate at all levels of community, this includes serving in ministry, leading on a ministry team, and holding a staff position. NewStory offers full pastoral care to everyone in our congregation regardless of ability, age, race, sex, gender expression or sexuality. This includes, but is not limited to, spiritual counsel, prayer, baptism, weddings, funerals and visitation during illness.
Founding pastors, Rich and Dori Gorman, step aside to create room for a new lead pastor. Sergio Diaz-Ramos steps up as the Interim Lead Pastor. While the next chapters for NewStory have yet to be written, we are confident that the one who began a good work in us, is faithful to complete it. We believe that in the midst of change and transition, we can do hard things because of the one who dwells within is. Thanks be to God that the story of NewStory continues today. We hope you will find yourself in this story too.