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The New Parish

The New Parish

Author: Paul Sparks, Tim Soerens, Dwight J. Friesen

"As our vehicles and gadgets get faster and faster, people are hungry for a place to belong and a people who know them. What a gift the notion of the parish is for our time. And what a joy to know this collective that's figuring out how to breath life into this ancient notion in our time."
–Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, author of Strangers at My Door
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2015 Christianity Today Award of Merit (The Church/Pastoral Leadership)

2014 Readers' Choice Awards Honorable Mention

2014 Best Books About the Church from Byron Borger, Hearts and Minds Bookstore

"When . . . faith communities begin connecting together, in and for the neighbourhood, they learn to depend on God for strength to love, forgive and show grace like never before. . . . The gospel becomes so much more tangible and compelling when the local church is actually a part of the community, connected to the struggles of the people, and even the land itself."

Paul Sparks, Tim Soerens and Dwight J. Friesen have seen—in cities, suburbs and small towns all over North America—how powerful the gospel can be when it takes root in the context of a place, at the intersection of geography, demography, economy and culture. This is not a new idea—the concept of a parish is as old as Paul's letters to the various communities of the ancient church. But in an age of dislocation and disengagement, the notion of a church that knows its place and gives itself to where it finds itself is like a breath of fresh air, like a sign of new life.

About The Author

Paul Sparks

Paul Sparks is a Parish Organizer and Social Entrepreneur. His place-based expertise and trusted friendship in neighbourhoods across North America make him an indispensable consultant to faith communities, academic institutions, and community organizations. Paul speaks for strong resilient relationships within the parish, and brave collaborative links across places. Paul is the co-founder of Local Life: Coalition for Livable Communities, the Parish Collective: Rooted and Linked for Parish Renewal, and Urban Landscaping: Rapid Placeshaking Collaborations. He is also an instructor for the Leadership in the New Parish at the Seattle School of Psychology and Theology and is the co-founder of the Inhabit Conference. Paul lives in an urban neighbourhood at the heart of Downtown Tacoma, Washington with his co-conspiring wife Elizabeth. They pastor a growing faith community comprised of friends, artists and entrepreneurs seeking a common life together with their neighbours.

Tim Soerens

Tim Soerens is a pastor, social entrepreneur, and co-founding director of the Parish Collective. As co-director of the Parish Collective he convenes ministry leaders, teaches, and consults with organizations seeking human flourishing in particular neighbourhoods while also working collaboratively across the city. He is also the co-founding producer of the Inhabit Conference and the new "Leadership in the New Parish" certificate program at The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology. As social entrepreneur, Tim is a founding adviser to the Hub-Seattle, an innovative co-working space for change makers in both non-profit and business sectors. He earned a BA in Rhetorical Sciences from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Masters of Divinity from The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology. He lives in the Wallingford neighbourhood of Seattle with his wife Maria-Jose and their son.

Dwight J. Friesen

Dwight J. Friesen (DMin, George Fox University) has over a dozen years of missional pastoral experience and is currently Associate Professor of Practical Theology at The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology. He is passionate about peace-making, interfaith and missional-ecumenical conversation, and about communally and personally embodying the Gospel of Jesus Christ in local contexts. In 1996, Dwight pioneered an emerging network of simple churches in Seattle called "Quest-A Christ Commons." He has served as a guest lecturer and spiritual director around the country and is a co-founder of the Inhabit Conference. As a speaker and consultant for churches, denominations and mission agencies, he speaks internationally on issues of contextual ministry, postmodern culture, social systems and missional Christianity. He also served for a number of years on the Faith & Order Commission of the National Council of Churches. Dwight, his wife Lynette, and their son are active members of the Lake Hills neighbourhood of Bellevue, Washington.

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