What’s Happened Since We First Met Jessica Tate

It’s been a year since the Rev. Jessica Tate graced the pulpit of Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church for the first time. Jessica is the executive director of NEXT Church, a network of leaders across the Presbyterian Church (USA) working to envision a vital, progressive future for the denomination. As we anticipate her return this Sunday we asked what NEXT Church — and Jessica herself — have been up to for the past 12 months. Here is her report.


In January, on the heels of our 2017 National Gathering, NEXT Church released the Sarasota Statement, a new confessional statement in response to the current state of the church and world. The statement, a collaboration of eight PCUSA pastors, is addressed particularly, in its words, “to all whom the church has harmed, in recognition and apology, as we vow to do and be better, with God’s help.”

You can read the full statement here.

We’ve really excited about the Certificate in Community Organizing that will launch in October. This program will consist of a one-week intensive training in Baltimore, followed by a six-month distance learning cohort to integrate the training into your work.

The program is open to clergy, laypeople, community leaders, seminarians and others interested in organizing and community engagement. The program is a partnership of NEXT Church, Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary and Metro Industrial Areas Foundation.

We’ve also got an interesting roundtable coming up later in August. Our Church Leader’s Roundtables are one-hour online conversations around a particular topic. We emphasize conversation, because this isn’t a traditional webinar where an expert presents information and the rest of us consume it. The Roundtable is designed for collective participation and learning, and for everyone to leave the conversation with more ideas and resources for their ministry.

The next roundtable, at noon on Tuesday, Aug. 29, is on “Toward the Purple Church.” You can learn more and RSVP here.

And we’re heading to Baltimore in February 2018 for our next National Gathering!

On the personal front, my spouse, John, and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary with a trip to the North Carolina mountains last December. (Our dog dressed up for the occasion.) 

I also survived a weeklong canoe camping trip in the wilderness of Quetico National Park (not too far from where Scott vacations) and am headed back there next week.

John will be with me at FAPC this year. I’m looking forward to being back!

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