Monday, July 23, 2012


Bishop Robert Hoshibata recently appointed the Rev. Beth Estock as a coaching consultant to The Epicenter Group: the third full-time person on our ministry team, and our first fulltime "associate pastor"!  Beth is coaching church planters and transformation leaders, especially in the areas where conventional church is failing to engage the population.  She also will lead several leader development clusters (perhaps the fastest growing dimension of Epicenter's work).  I am delighted to add Beth to our team for the following reasons:

* Beth understands that business as usual (or as yesterday) will not get the job done in any sort of ministry.
* Beth has experience in the local church and also as a skilled systems builder at the judicatory level.
* Beth has as good a grasp of the gigantic shift we are in as anyone I know, as we see Christendom fade into the fog of the horizon behind us.
* Beth is an amazing listener and learner.
* Beth will enable Epicenter to grow our work in the western United States (as she is based in Portland, Oregon).
* Beth is uber-smart and she sharpens my own thinking and analysis.
* Beth will be sharing some of her time with Epicenter's parallel organization: Readiness 360.

 She joins Justin Kan, Karyn Wiseman, Amy Butler, Paul Nickerson, Kim Shockley and a cast of others who are working with Epicenter.  Then there is the amazing lineup of church planters and world class leaders that we have mentored in the last few years - scattered all over the United States - leaders who are on the cutting edge of ministry excellence in a variety of ways and paradigms.
In August, Epicenter's office will move to 980 Massachusetts Ave NW, Suite 206, Washington DC 20001.   This office is on the second level of the award-wining glass building that Mount Vernon Place UMC erected behind their historic sanctuary four years ago.  This is the same building where Wesley Theological Seminary houses its central city campus and residential student community.  After many years in the most humble of office spaces, I am actually going to swivel my desk chair around to a magnificent K Street view in downtown Washington - hard to believe!  It is an honor to share as a ministry partner with the Rev Donna Sokol and Mt. Vernon Place Church.

I am entering my sixth year in Washington DC.  I came here to plant a faith community for and with urban young adults.  That community planting project moved through four iterations, culminating in the creation of Sunday Night @ Foundry, where Dean Snyder and Kevin Wright now serve as pastoral leaders.  I continue to share in that community as a member, servant and occasional trouble-shooter.  My first years in DC were years of rigorous un-learning.  I had to unlearn much that had helped my ministry thrive in the late twentieth century.  I documented some of that learning in 2008 in my book Finding Jesus on the Metro.  That book won the Mayflower Award from Pilgrim Press - and to date remains my personal favorite of all my published work.  

The Epicenter Group now rises from the hands-on missional experience of my DC adventure. We are a community of coaches, thinkers, practitioners and pilgrims, learning (and unlearning) together, as we discover the contours of what great local church ministry will look like in the mainline traditions in this century.  In the next few years, Epicenter will partner with great churches, with theological seminaries, with other consulting organizations, with judicatories and national denominational offices.  In a few months, we will announce our first seminary course (for credit) to be offered in the field of church planting.

The hours are long, but the work is just an awful lot of fun!  And more fun because we are attracting the best of the best (like Beth Estock) on our team!

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