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Moving ministries from idea to fruition (UM News)

October 5, 2022

The Rev. Yevette “Vette” Christy has a dream. But it’s an expensive and complex one, and she could use some help.

The Reclamation Project is a nonprofit agency that seeks to help women who are victims of sex trafficking to reclaim, restore and rebuild their lives by providing long-term residential housing options, coupled with comprehensive care and vocational educational opportunities,” said Christy, a doctoral student at Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University and an ordained elder in the Mountain Sky Conference.

That’s a mouthful to say, much less do.

Christy was one of the “ministry entrepreneurs” who in August attended a two-and-a-half-day seminar called Hatchathon at Saint Andrew United Methodist Church in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. The event, done in collaboration with the consulting firm Ministry Incubators, is designed to help ministry ideas in the conference move from concept to launch.

“Some may have the most basic idea,” said the Rev. Jeff Rainwater, the superintendent of congregational and community vitality for the Mountain Sky Conference. “(Christy) had done quite a bit of work on her vision, but was able to refine it more and will be supported through the coaching moving forward in this over the next year.”

Other projects at Hatchathon include an idea for a church that operates exclusively online and another that is mixing video games and faith.

“We realized that maybe what we were trying to make wasn’t really much like a worship service at all, and so we started experimenting with that. … There was some music and storytelling and questions about spirituality interwoven, and we call it a Tapestry, and we realized that was pretty cool.”

Orr went into the Hatchathon experience “a little skeptical,” he said.

“We’d already been working on this project for a while and had a pretty good idea of where we were going and what we’re doing,” Orr said. “By the end of the first hour, I was like, ‘Oh, I’m so glad I’m here.’”

He also liked the fellowship with the other Hatchathon students.

Crossfire: Faith + Gaming was started in 2017, “but our vision and direction for it were limited,” said the Rev. David Petty, pastor of Meeker United Methodist Church in Meeker, Colorado. It uses video games to pull together a faith-based community.

Members play video games together, but there’s more to it than that.

“We create a safe place for people who have been pushed away from the church to feel heard and to belong,” Petty said. During weekly chats and podcasts, scriptural themes in stories found in video games are discussed.

“We have Bible studies and devotionals,” during the chats, Petty said. “We check in with followers on how they are doing and where we can pray for them.”

Crossfire now has about 700 members through Facebook and another 700 on other platforms. The group also has two Minecraft servers for gamers.

Petty participated in a previous Hatchathon that had to be done completely online because of COVID-19. The experience helped him get grants from Methodists Helping Methodists Foundation and Whittier First United Methodist Church in Whittier, California, and to forge a partnership with the Boulder Spirit Foundation as it works toward financial sustainability.

The program emerges at a time when the country is suffering economic, social and political crises.

“The Hatchathon is an essential part to anyone looking to start a new ministry,” Petty said. “If the ministry idea is a seed, then Hatchathon and Ministry Incubators are the fertilizer, the water and the soil.”

Not every Hatchathon project makes it, Rainwater said.

“For the smaller projects, I think it’s getting distracted with their daytime job and (not) finding the time to put effort into just whatever the next step is,” he said. “We’ve seen some teams, they come with an interesting idea, but they’re not in a place to launch it.”

One project that fell short was an idea to do a food justice ministry through a food truck.

“But it was a very small community for him to launch this,” Rainwater said. “So he went through the process, but it just wasn’t able to really get off the ground.”

Christy, who suffered through years of prostitution and drug addiction, has yet to open her first home for survivors of sex trafficking, but she continues to pursue her dream.

“What I do right now is primarily just speak and share my story,” she said. “I speak not only to generate awareness for advocates and allies, but also with a hope that I’ll have the right audience at some point, and be able to open my first home.”