A National Family of Progressive, Inclusive, Christian Churches
A National Movement of Progressive Churches
The Missiongathering Movement was born out of the life experience of Pastor Rich McCullen. Rich spent many years as a the leader of a non-denominational student ministry called Campus Life. Many of the teens who attended Campus Life wanted to connect with a local Church but when Rich would take these kids to church they were met with resistance and rejection. It was during this time of ministry that God began to place a call on Rich’s heart for the kids who no one wanted at their Churches.
So Rich got together with a local Methodist Church and asked if they could have a youth gathering on Sunday nights. He hoped that this could be a place where disconnected kids could connect with God in a Church environment. From a humble beginning the Sunday night gatherings grew into a movement. With more kids attending the gatherings than there were members of the host Church the Pastor did what many in his situation would do. He attempted to make the teens become Methodists asking that they complete conformation and become members of the host Church. This was problematic for many of theses teens who came out of different cultures and denominations. Rich felt as though forcing this on these kids that he had watched grow up was not right and so the gathering began to look for a new home. As the gatherings began to grow into a larger body it began to take on the life of a congregation and not just a Sunday night meetup.
So Rich and his team began to seek out a larger home for the movement connecting with a tribe larger than their own experiences. They eventually landed at Torrey Pines Christian Church(Disciples of Christ) who agreed to help nest what had now become the early stages of Missiongathering. The Disciples offered a home where all of the diverse backgrounds and beliefs that made up Missiongathering could be allowed to grow and mature on their own path, rather than being conscripted in to a rigid structure.
The message of the open table being a welcoming place for all to come fit with the mission that these gatherings had started with from day one. So the wonderful folks at Torrey Pines agreed to nest Missiongathering so that they could find there own home in a more urban context. Missiongathering soon grew in San Diego’s Urban core to be one of the leading forces for change in the city. MG San Diego currently runs a program called Urban Street Angels that helps cloth, shelter, and feed the enormous homeless youth population of San Diego. They have become a dynamic movement of change in the lives of people who have been discarded by most of society. Urban Street Angels currently provides job training, transitional housing and wide variety of services to homeless youth. The impact of the missional presence of Missiongathering has been so large in San Diego that the city government has partnered with MG to expand the impact of Urban Street Angels on a city wide scale! Missiongathering has always been a movement and every movement needs to grow and expand.
In 2007 while meeting in Charlotte for a General Assembly for the Disciples of Christ Rich began to feel the call to plant a new Missiongathering in the heart of the New South. The funds were available and he had found building everything seemed to have fallen exactly into place. But then as we all know the bottom fell out and the great recession was in full swing. So Missiongathering had to pull their funds out and wait. Missiongathering Charlotte still weighed heavy on Rich’s heart over the next few years so in 2015 Rich met with Regional Minister John Richardson and leaders in the North Carolina Region to take the dream of Missiongathering Charlotte back off of the shelve. In 2016, Missiongathering Charlotte was planted and is now a thriving congregation of nearly 100 followers of Christ embodying the radical message of grace and inclusion.
In 2017, God opened the door to plant Missiongathering Seattle, WA and Missiongathering Denver, CO, and in 2018, plans to plant Missiongathering Pasadena, CA was announced.
"One of my favorite churches in the country—Missiongathering … has managed to attract throngs of young people by fostering a community that is diverse, inclusive, biblically literate, spiritually connected, appreciative of both liturgy and contemporary worship, and absolutely bursting at the seams with grace.”