The Freedom Church: Reviewing Our Practices for Ministry in the 21st Century Open Access

Miller, Melanie (Spring 2019)

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In an effort to refocus on the mission of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, the Board of Bishops presented the quadrennial theme "The Freedom Church: Refocusing on Our Purpose, Reviewing Our Practices, Retooling Our People and Reaching Our Potential" at the 2016 General Conference. This study will argue that the AME Zion Church needs a process to fulfill the second component of the theme, Reviewing our Practices. This process would help churches address the longstanding mission of liberation as the Freedom Church, and to carry out a new mission layered on top of it that challenges 21st-century postmodernism. Postmodernism poses a threat as it presents a new, complex and ever-changing definition of liberation and freedom that has the ability to undermine the spiritual engagement of the church as followers of Christ. This study explores how Robert Schnase‘s five fruitful practices of radical hospitality, passionate worship, intentional faith development, risk-taking mission and service, and extravagant generosity were used to implement a process in seven churches in the New Jersey Annual Conference to evaluate their current ministry practices. The process can be used to provide feedback to the members, pastor, and other leaders to help with addressing the historic and contemporary challenges that black people and other people of color face in an attempt to obtain true freedom in today’s society.

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