I recently met with some Vineyard leaders at City Seminary in Harlem. It was a great time as we talked about how to reach the diverse mosaic of neighborhoods in all the boroughs of NYC… with a multitude of missional communities and neighborhood churches.
During one of our breaks, we learned more about the school, which graciously hosted our meetings. They walked us through their philosophy of ministry—complete with visuals in the form of a series of posters embedded among their library books (arranged to look like city blocks). Here’s what they shared with us:
Pray and break bread is one of the core practices of our seminary. Every year we go into each of the five boroughs into a different neighborhood to read scripture together, walk around the neighborhood using our senses to learn about what God is already doing, learning from ministries that are there, praying together, and sharing a meal together—usually one of the ethnic cuisines of the neighborhood. Getting to know the city and getting to know each other is a real strength of this seminary. We teach our students on the ground to see what’s going on in the city, how things are already flourishing, and how paying attention to the rhythms of the city will really help them serve.
The Ephesian Moment is when all the different cultures of the church come together and reveal their richness in Christ. It’s not just in one ethnicity, one culture, or one neighborhood, but the full body of Christ coming together.
<Translation signifies how the Word became flesh and moved among us. We thought about calling this panel incarnation. It’s the idea that Christ comes and incarnates in culture-specific segments across the world. So Christ reveals himself a little differently to all people– in different languages, in different cultures, in different times.
<Every Square Inch is a reflection of a holistic Reformed theology that emphasizes that redemption is for all of creation. The church is not just confined to the church proper but is present in every sphere of life—family, work, culture, arts, society. We strive to experience every square inch of God’s creation to see how God can be reflected there.
Formed in the Spirit reflects how we seek to join with the Spirit in everything new that’s going on, to be responsive to the Spirit according to the spontaneity of what’s going on in the present moment.
Pilgrimage is a metaphor for our model of learning. We go to see what God is doing in ministries in our neighborhood and around the globe, so that we can learn from them by seeing how they are interacting with God in their culture, circumstances, and opportunities.
Generations reflects how the faith of all generations would come together to make one committed whole. It reflects our commitment to multigenerational Christians, specifically in the cases of immigrant churches to see how faith passes from one generation to the next while adapting to new contexts.
New Creation is about God making all things new. This panel represents revitalizing a whole section of a neighborhood: building a school, starting work initiatives, building 200 houses. , revitalizing a whole section of the neighborhood. Here in Harlem, this whole seminary was built out of what we were already seeing in the neighborhood—the vibrancy of African-American Christianity and Christianity across the globe.