The following is a Christian Work Project sponsored in part by a grant from the Boston Baptist Social Union.
We are a small, aging, and diminishing congregation, and our efforts at growth over the years have not succeeded. The result of our study was that we felt we should seek to nurture to life an emerging congregation in the hope that God would raise them up to a point where they would be able to succeed us in bearing an American Baptist witness to our community. With the aid of TABCOM, we discovered just such an emerging congregation nearby, which was ministering primarily to Chinese and other Asian immigrants to the United States.
Their leader, Jie Jiao, was anxious that this fellowship be part of our American Baptist family. We met with them and agreed to offer them space for worship and fellowship at no cost and to share our ministerial and volunteer services with them as required. At that time, the group was made up largely of seekers, not yet having come to faith and baptized, and with no church relationships in their native countries. We came to you [BBSU] for help so that we could meet the costs of opening our facilities to their use and supporting their need for teaching resources.
A regular group of between 25 and 50 persons attending the fellowship gatherings on alternate Saturday evenings. Throughout the spring, this group continued to gather on alternate Saturday evenings with an average of about 40 in attendance. When summer came, we moved our English service to 9:30 AM on Sunday morning, as was our custom. I invited Jie to plan, for the summer months only, to experiment with Chinese-language worship at the 11 o'clock hour. From early June through Labor Day, their attendance at worship was between 30 and 70 adults each Sunday. During the summer, several Asians of mature faith have participated in this fellowship and have served as worship leaders and Sunday School teachers. Their worship was followed each week with a fellowship lunch, after which some of the attendees took their children to a local Chinese school for further education.
In August, our English congregation offered to move our service to 10:00 AM so that the Chinese group could begin their service at 11:30, and maintain the continuity of their after-worship luncheon and schooling for their children. Attendance levels have been maintained through the winter, with modest additional growth. In addition, we have baptized three candidates and welcomed seven others to membership on profession of faith.
A Sunday School with an average attendance of 15 to 20 children (at that time we were averaging between 4 and 10). The Sunday School is reaching an average attendance of 20 now plus a group of teenagers numbering 6-8, with their own program and a volunteer leader from our English congregation.
More Chinese persons in attendance at LPBC worship, and a greater integration of Chinese Christian aspects to our worship. We have approached this objective differently than we had intended. We continue to worship separately most Sundays (English worship at 10; Asian worship at 11:30). However, on the first Sunday of each month we worship together at the 11:30 hour in a service that ends with Communion. At other times such as the Sunday before Christmas: we also worship together.
At least six social and cultural events that will serve to encourage mutual love and care between tho two congregations. A group of leaders from both congregations has enthusiastically put together a common calendar for the entire year which includes many more than six such events that we can share together.
Including Jie and other baptized Chinese congregants who became members of LPBC into the three standing committees of the host church. We have spent time with the Chinese leadership reviewing the By-laws under which we operate and are planning to add members of the Chinese congregation to the three standing committees at our Annual Meeting this coming May. In the meantime, our two groups of leaders are meeting to discuss items of interest and mutual concern so that we are able to take appropriate action prior to Annual Meeting.
An emerging sense of stewardship among the Chinese Christians that will be a foretaste of their willingness and ability to fully support this ministry into the future. This has begun with the start of the summertime worship, and offerings that will probably reach $9,000 have been made by the Chinese congregation. These funds are integrated into the Lincoln Park Baptist Church treasury and have helped us meet our deficit, defray some additional expenses, and offer a modest stipend to Jie Jiao. There is much work yet to be done in terms of stewardship training, though, and it is a high priority for this year.
You can get some sense of the number of persons served from the information in the previous section. Although most of the persons participating in this ministry are from Newton and Wayland others have come from as far as Gloucester. Their ages range from the very young to retirees, but probably average out to early thirties, early forties. This is considerably less than that of the English congregates, which doubtless averages over 65. As for future growth we feel we will be seeing continued growth over the next few years as a result of the enthusiastic faith of this young congregation, their expressions of feeling at home in this place and among those of us who have welcomed them, and their constant and consistent witness to their "Gospel friends," who are their neighbors, local college students, and coworkers. As this community grows within the Newton, and as this congregation continues to invite seekers, we feel growth is inevitable.