Many Pastors In Natomas, One Church

PHOTO BY C. SHANNON

BY SERENA MAKOFSKY
THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz

There’s more than one way to get moving.

That was the lesson of Live Well Natomas, a 90-day challenge which asked Natomas residents to get moving, either by bicycle or on foot earlier this year.

Behind the scenes of this healthy, community initiative were the several faith-based groups – pastors from the organizations who embrace the message of “keep moving” in a wholly different way.

For two years these religious leaders put aside any theological differences they may have to engage in weekly interdenominational prayer sessions and welcome Natomas residents who need of support.

“Our purpose is to gather and pray for one another,” said Pastor John Stone of Crosspointe Church of Natomas and co-founder. (Some pastors have been meeting 10 years.)

Discussions, he said, transcend religious differences.

“It’s not ‘What’s going on in your church, what’s going on in my church’,” Stone said. “It’s ‘How can I be praying for you, your wife, and your children, and your family.’ What’s going on in your heart.”

PHOTO BY C. SHANNON

The pastors’ commitment to the people of the Natomas community is evident during these intense sessions, which sometimes consist of praying for one another and often extend to praying for those in the community seeking support.

“It’s an extraordinary thing,” said Pastor Kyle Johnson of The Crossing Church. “Because (the group) meets weekly, we’re building a lot more camaraderie. We’re all serving the same community with the same set of goals, ultimately strengthening that one-church mindset.”

Although the pastors’ prayer meetings take place every Wednesday morning at Crosspointe Church, no single pastor dominates the proceedings.

“It is an excellent time of building unity within the Church here in Natomas as well as tremendous support and encouragement for the pastors that are involved,” said Johnson.

The religious leaders are visionary, not only for their ability to find common ground amid different philosophies, but also for their deep passion for serving the Natomas community, Johnson said.

Among the congregations represented at the table are Baptist, Assemblies of God, Nazarene, Christian Missionary Alliance, Vineyard, along with leaders from non-denominational church backgrounds.

Pastor Glenn Robinson, of NorthCity Church, underscores the solidarity between pastors participating in the prayer sessions.

“There is a strong spirit of unity across denominational lines as we view one another as ‘brothers in arms’ with the same goal of lifting up Jesus Christ in Natomas,” said Robinson.

These pastors are ground breakers in another way, too.

“… Each man in the room is also a church planter. As such we share a strong empathy of the unique challenges faced by church planters,” said Robinson. “I have been personally encouraged and mentored by the other Natomas pastors who have traveled the road of ministry a little further than I have.”

True to the Live Well Natomas pledge, the pastors of the group intend to keep moving with their meetings and organizing community programs together.

For the past several years,  congregations have joined for a community-wide Good Friday service just before Easter.

“Our prayer group has considered a Natomas-wide mens’ retreat together. We have talked about a Christmas service for the community in addition to what we might do individually,” said Stone. “We have kicked around other community-wide events designed to help people with issues they are dealing with in their lives, including divorce recovery and Financial Peace University with Dave Ramsey.”

Another plan in the works is a reboot of Live Well Natomas for 2013.

According to Joleane King, a coordinator for Live Well Natomas, about 2,000 people registered for fitness and health events held this year. Participants walked, ran or biked an estimated 10,000 miles over the 12-week period, she said.

“We have not yet announced the 2013 Live Well Natomas program, but please invite readers to send their ideas to help with planning,” said King.

To read more about future Live Well Natomas plans, visit www.livewellnatomas, under the “What’s Next?” section.

Chris Shannon contributed to this report.

PHOTO BY C. SHANNON