Joshua Lichter is a young man who has a unique mission in Auburn, California. (The only Auburn I knew as recently as a few years ago was in Alabama. It is the home of my biggest football rival. I’ll save that story for another time!)
Josh and his wife (Rachel) are good friends. Josh was recently ordained in the Reformed Church in America. He understands missional-ecumenism in a unique and powerful way. I saw Josh a few weeks ago when I spoke to the Central California Classis of the RCA. Josh later sent me an account of one aspect of his unique mission. With his permission I post part of his story to demonstrate how one visionary church planter is engaging modern mission realities with clarity and openly following Jesus into the world where he actually lives and serves. Here is Joshua’s account:
Once a month, I have been participating in a book reading/ discussion club with several local clergy, most of whom are Episcopal priests. Most are quite liberal in their theology.
This past week, we met and discussed a book called The Meaning of Mary Magdalene by Cynthia Bourgeault. I find this book a tough read, largely because I disagree so strongly with most of her points. (For example, she embraces acceptance of the Gnostic gospels of Thomas and Mary Magdalene and urges that we incorporate them into our liturgical life!)
We had a guest at this particular discussion; the woman who runs The Mercy Center, which is a local Catholic Convent and retreat center. Our ensuing conversation was incredible. I had prayed extensively that God would direct the dialog in a gospel focused manner. That is exactly what happened. Ultimately it went in the direction of the power that both word and sacrament can have in our lives. We even discussed why we don't need Gnostic or new age mysticism to "spice up" the church.
If you knew the clergy present you'd quickly realize that this was a work of the Spirit in our midst. The discussion could easily have gone in completely different direction. Frankly, I was amazed.
Anyway, that's just one more example of how God has used the ecumenical connections Incarnation (this is the name of Joshua’s church plant mission) has forged to stimulate kingdom growth. I have seen these clergy slowly change over the past two years as we’ve have been meeting together. It is a huge affirmation that we are on the right track and listening to God's direction for us.
Please keep all of us here in your prayers. Josh describes Incarnation as: "A Community that Enjoys God, Loves Others, and Engages Culture." I encourage you to check out this wonderful ministry and see how one good brother is reaching out with the gospel of Jesus into unreached fields of opportunity.