“We, the church, must take on and overcome the community woes like unemployment, homelessness, and unscrupulous pay day loans, to see our land transformed,” said Dan Walker, executive director of Love INC in the Florida District of The Wesleyan Church. Love INC is a partnership of churches working together to help those in need in central Florida.

Rev. Walker was one of many Wesleyans attending the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) National Conference in New Orleans in September. It was a four-day conference with programs, workshops, and training offered to assist church and faith leaders in the area of Christian community ministry and development. Thousands of church practitioners, denominational leaders, faith-based organizers, community developers, and advocates from across North America gathered for the annual event. There were Wesleyans in attendance from at least ten districts and headquarters, including Dr. Jo Anne Lyon, General Superintendent of The Wesleyan Church; Dr. Jim Dunn, executive director of Church Multiplication and Discipleship; and Rev. Richard Meeks, district superintendent of East Michigan District.

The leaders gathered for dinner at the annual Wesleyan CCDA networking event hosted by the Church Multiplication and Discipleship Division under the leadership of Rev. Jeremy Summers, director of adult spiritual formation. This event was held to give Wesleyan pastors and leaders an opportunity to network, share best practices, and to hear from each other as to how Wesleyans are transforming their communities.

Here is what a few attendees had to say about the conference:

This year I witnessed the greatest energy as we met in New Orleans and shared our stories. We heard stories from large urban centers as well as smaller but significant cross-cultural communities. All of the presenters really had one idea in common, and that was an intense dedication to impact our communities with the holistic Good News of Jesus and His Kingdom.” –Richard Schenck, co-pastor, Lakeview Wesleyan Church, Noblesville, Ind.

“Any CCDA gathering is inspiring and wonderful but I am especially encouraged and blessed by connecting with all the Wesleyans that are now engaged in community development work throughout the country. Each year, there are new faces that are doing amazing things in their communities and there is nothing quite like building relationships and sharing ideas, struggles, and joys with those who are traveling a similar journey.” –Rod McCallum, Western New York District

“It was a real privilege to attend CCDA representing Holland Central Wesleyan Church, as well as being a presenter at one of the workshops. Ruthann and I have recently moved into the core city of Holland and enjoy our role of being intentional neighbors. The CCDA Conference was the perfect place to learn from those who have already done what we are beginning and we were able to establish contacts for networking. “ –Ramon David, Central Wesleyan Church, Holland, Mich.

“The CCDA conference stoked a fire in both my heart and in my understanding of Christian community development. In the multi-ethnic worship, the passion for Christ was intoxicating. The education we received on social enterprises was challenging, and my own experience also empowered our conviction that we, the Church, must take on and overcome the community woes like unscrupulous pay day loans, unemployment and homelessness to see our land transformed.” –Dan Walker, executive director of Love Inc., Florida District

“I was really challenged by this year’s CCDA conference. We cannot accept the church being an agent for keeping the status quo. The 8 key principles of CCDA are the best biblically based model I have seen to avoid this trap. It was great to see so many fellow Wesleyans there. –Mark Judkins, pastor, Wesleyan Community Church of Detroit (Mich.)

Interested in engaging and reaching your community or have questions on where to start? For more information about this kind of ministry to your community, contact the Adult Spiritual Formation office at 317.774.3891 or summersj@wesleyan.org.