Is GWM independent or is it part of another organization?
GWM (Greater Williamsburg Movement) is an independent organization incorporated in Virginia, and is an “expression” of the International organization https://www.movement.org/ (founded in NYC in 2010). GWM is also associated with similar work being done on the Peninsula and in the greater Norfolk area under the “umbrella” name of Movement Day Virginia Cities.
The Movement Day website whose link is above has additional information and videos which give more details as to the overall vision for what we are seeking to do here in Williamsburg and Eastern Virginia as well. A “Movement Day” is a 1 – 3 day event whose purpose is to gather a diverse group of Christian leaders in a city or region for a time of collaboration in order to accelerate a gospel movement in their area, and to convene leaders to address the stubborn problems that face their cities. Movement Day is an initiative of Movement.org, which exists to help cities create these “movements” to foster gospel movements that result in personal and city transformation. GWM is an “on the ground” organization which seeks to accomplish these same goals here locally.
What are the potential benefits for member churches?
GWM has the advantage of being a neutral convening body – one that can help gather Christian leaders from all parts of the community around a common purpose. We recognize that there are a lot of things competing for your time, so participation in “one more thing” needs to be worthy of your time. We anticipate the potential upside of your involvement to include:
1. Growth in relationships with leaders of other churches, resulting in mutual support and fruitful collaboration that benefits not only your church but the Greater Williamsburg community. Here is an example of what God has done elsewhere:
2. Access to input from pastors and leaders who are pursuing church unity movements in other places in the US and internationally to learn from what they have been doing and to gain inspiration for the powerful impacts these movements are having on people and cities
3. Opportunities to participate in enrichment events including special gatherings with national faith leaders, trips with other leaders that offer time for fellowship as well as exposure to experiences, other leaders, and to ministries that can enrich your own ministry and expand vision.
4. We believe that there is a hunger among church members “in the pews” to do something meaningful. One of our goals is to provide opportunities for churches to work alongside other churches on community initiatives that will meaningfully impact people’s lives for the long term, while providing opportunities to build relationships that will lead to lives being shared.
5. Opportunity to participate in collaboration and in seeking God together as we pursue His vision for our community.
It seems that there is a focus on racial healing. How did that come about and how does it fit with the vision, mission, and values?
Our goal as an organization is to foster church unity and to see the Body of Christ functioning as a unified whole in Greater Williamsburg. One of the major hindrances to this happening is the reality evidenced by what some describe as “the most segregated hours of the week” - when churches meet on Sunday mornings. In order to see a fulfillment of God’s plan for his Church in our community, we have come to realize that there needs to be a relational breakthrough on this issue and all that it encompasses as a prerequisite to true unity.
Since we began this journey over a year and a half ago, we have found that the relationships between the white and black churches was generally polite but also very guarded. There has been and is a lack of the trust that can only come from relationships built on true unconditional love based in Jesus. As the location of the origins of slavery in our country over 400 years ago, our community is in a unique position to also be a leader in healing the deep wounds still pervasive in our black community and in developing a better understanding across the whole church of the injustices that have occurred. We are passionate about our mission for unity of Jesus Church in our community and committed to removing any hinderances standing in the way of a gospel centered movement. Only as we worship, pray, and serve together can we achieve of our vision for transformed lives and a flourishing community.
Books: “One Blood” by John Perkins, “Divided by Faith” by Michael Emerson and Christian Smith, and “The Color of Law” by Richard Rothstein.
What other churches are involved?
The current list of churches who have committed to involvement with Greater Williamsburg Movement include:
Chickahominy Baptist Church
Jamestown Christian Fellowship Church
King of Glory Lutheran Church
Little Zion Baptist Church-Grove
Mount Pleasant Baptist Church
New Zion Baptist Church
Parrish HIll Baptist Church
Powerhouse of Praise Church of God in Christ
River of Life Christian Church
The Historic First Baptist Church of Williamsburg
The River Church
Vineyard Church of the Peninsula
Waters Edge Church
Williamsburg Christian Church
Williamsburg Community Chapel
How is GWM different from the other organizations in the community that also bring churches to work together?
The mission of Greater Williamsburg Movement is to foster unity the Christian community, mobilize the Church to address key needs in our community, and convey God’s love and transforming power in a Gospel-centered movement. The central goal of Christian church unity is a defining characteristic of GWM that is different than that of other organizations in our community. As such, our strategy is to serve as a neutral convener and facilitator to bring together the Christian churches, as well as Christians working in non-profits, government and the business community to serve primarily through already existing initiatives in ways that no church could do alone.
In significant ways, many followers of Jesus are already at the center of serving the needs of our community. We believe that one of the keys to accelerating long-term change in addressing stubborn problems within the community is for the entire Body of Christ to be awakened and mobilized with a vision to “love our neighbors” both within the church and within the community around us.
We believe that there are followers of Jesus within our congregations who are longing to invest themselves in serving the Lord, and that as they have the opportunity to develop flourishing relationships with people who are different than themselves, this will lead to long term individual (as well as church and community) transformation. We seek to be a connector of churches and people - helping to accelerate ministry that is already going on and incubating ministry efforts to address needs that aren’t yet being met.
We applaud and are grateful for the many organizations that provide opportunities for members of a wide variety of churches to work together addressing issues in our community. They have a huge impact in greater Williamsburg, and we would be a very hurting community without them.
We have relations with other churches, so I think we are doing our part for unity. Isn’t this what GWM would be trying to do anyway?
We are believing for a deeper unity to be developed in the Church in Williamsburg than what we have experienced to date. In John 17:22-23, Jesus prays to His Father, asking “…that they may be one, even as We are One, I in them and You in Me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent Me and loved them even as You loved Me.”
Jesus was passionate about unity - this is the kind of unity that we are pursuing – the kind that results in our community realizing that Jesus must be real, because of the love that we have for one another. We believe that disunity breeds atheism, and true unity breeds faith. It will take sustained and intentional effort to get to the point where the Church in Greater Williamsburg is operating in experiential unity that outsiders can observe. This is important not only because Jesus commanded the Church to operate in unity, but because we believe it is key to seeing God’s purposes fulfilled, we are passionate about working to make it happen. The link in the first point under “potential benefits for Member churches” above is one example of what can happen when churches develop deep unity. Another example is the remarkable story of city transformation that took place as leaders came together in Salford England:
Is there a theology and doctrine that member churches are expected to accept?
We have purposely attempted to keep this simple. Here are what we call our Core Values, which form the basis of belief around which we operate. These are the Core Values that we ask all member churches to agree with:
1. We come together and deeply value the centrality of the Gospel. We are united in the person of Jesus Christ and in His divinity.
2. We believe in the unity of the Church. There is One Church and many beautiful expressions of that Church.
3. We come together around Christ’s mission for the transformation of communities
Why don’t you open GWM to all faiths?
We respect, appreciate and honor the service of all in our community who desire to serve their fellow man, and will gladly work with all in addressing “common grace” issues. However, this organization has been founded specifically as an effort to bring together Christian churches and followers of Jesus with a vision to do walk together in unity (John 17:20-23).
Is GWM a 501c3?
GWM has applied for 501c3 status and is awaiting response from the federal government. We hope to have this in place before the end of the year.