Introducing The Catacombs
In the last ten years the percentage of people in the Pacific Northwest who do not participate in a faith community has grown to 69%. At the same time, many of our churches, pastors, and members are doing great work to build relationships with people outside our congregations and are inviting them to participate.
There are people in the Northwest who share many of our values and have a deep respect for Jesus. They are interested in theological and ethical conversation, in engaging the scriptures, and even being formed in spiritual practices. Yet for many, large corporate worship is just not their thing. They see a world of challenges and want support and formation to engage those challenges in some meaningful way.
As one way to reach out to them, the Northwest Washington Synod and the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia are supporting an experimental mission start called The Catacombs with Pastor Terry Kyllo as its developer.
The vision of The Catacombs is to create connected house churches to Free, prepare, and support people as they participate in God’s healing of the world.
The Catacombs will be neo-monastic house churches each with a distinct focus of leadership and service in the world. You can find out more at www.catacombchurches.org.
The ancient church began its ministry in houses. In larger cities, an overseer would work with the house churches to help imagine, equip, support and celebrate the ministry of the congregation and to guide the formation of new Christians.
House churches will be groups of up to ten people plus children, with two leaders, who meet weekly for about 2.5 hours for formation, relationship, discernment, to share a meal, and to plan their nonviolent public leadership in the larger world. The house gatherings will be liturgical and sacramental in nature.
All of the house churches will jointly assemble on major days of the liturgical calendar for worship, mutual support, and fun. Participants will also be invited to an annual retreat at Holden Village.
The key questions The Catacombs are going to engage are:
- How do we understand and manage life and death as human beings?
- How do we live together despite the significant differences between our worldviews and cultures?
- How will we live on this planet in a way that respects the ecosystem and those who will live after us?
This new mission is not intended as an indictment against other ways of being the church. There are many ways to be the church. The Catacombs is an attempt to add to the ways that Lutherans and Episcopalians currently express community gathered in and around Jesus Christ.
The Catacombs will be starting in March in the Everett area and south into Lynnwood and Mill Creek. As Terry begins his work to develop The Catacombs he will focus on finding people who do not participate in existing churches. He hopes that some people may become interested in the conversation but find a home in existing churches. If people from existing churches seem to be interested, he will require them to have a conversation with their pastor before any participation takes place.
Please pray for those who will be called to participate in The Catacombs, for Terry Kyllo the developer, and that all the churches of the Northwest Washington Synod and the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia may continue to grow in our capacity to meaningfully engage our neighbors with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.