Co-Creators Cycle 3 culminates with Launch Summit
VALLEY FORGE, PA (11/9/2023)—On October 16-18, 2023, American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) hosted the Launch Summit of Co-Creators Incubator Cycle 3, a program of ABHMS’ Leadership Empowerment unit. Held at the Leadership and Mission Building in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, the gathering culminated a year-long effort of the ministry innovators who participated in the Cycle 3 cohort. They presented their work and enjoyed opportunities to network and exchange experiences.
The Co-Creators Incubator was launched four years ago to foster the development of fresh ministry concepts. The incubator promotes collegiality while providing entrepreneurially minded people—the Co-Creators—with resources to develop their concepts or improve their ministries. The program matches Co-Creators with mentors and exposes them to potential partners capable of providing long-term financial and other support.
After an initial in-person gathering at ABHMS in January 2023 for the Co-Creators Kickoff Summit, the cohort convened online between then and October 2023 to address topics related to business and professional entrepreneurship. During that time—the incubation period—cohort members developed a strong understanding of what they wished to achieve, designed a business plan, and learned to tell their story in a compelling way to a wider audience. As part of the program, each Co-Creator receives seed funding of $3,000 to launch their project.
At the summit, the Co-Creators pitched their projects to a panel of distinguished entrepreneurs, including the Rev. Amy Butler, founder of the nonprofit Invested Faith and former senior minister at the Riverside Church, New York, and Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.; Rasheed Abdellah, co-founder of Indie-Life, a creative agency specializing in branding, communications, events and production management; and Garry Mills, founder and executive director of the nonprofit Shoot Basketball NOT People.
The group, accompanied by ABHMS staff, also went on a field trip to see innovation in action. They visited RAWTools, a Philadelphia community whose mission is to get guns off the streets by melting them, and other weapons, to fashion garden tools.
The Rev. Dr. Lauren Ng, director of Leadership Empowerment at ABHMS and the Co-Creators Incubator program said that its “first missiological priority is around supporting and connecting innovators and creators as well as ministry leaders.” She continued: “What ABHMS is uniquely positioned to do is serve as a means by which these missional entrepreneurs are connected to one another and to a larger universe of potential supporters.”
Ng explained that the nature of their work means that these missional innovators often have a sense of being isolated. The incubator provides program participants with a unique opportunity to interact with fellow entrepreneurs. “They’re not in traditional models of church,” said Ng. “They wake up every morning, often feeling like no one’s going to get this thing. ‘No one’s going to move the needle except for me.’”
“Starting a new ministry is incredibly daunting and there are so many things I didn’t know that I didn’t know” said Co-Creator Josh Richardson, executive director of Brugmansia Ministries, a nonprofit that helps faith organizations to address local challenges related to global warming. “Being a part of the Co-Creators Incubator has not only saved me years of initial struggle in my ministry but, with the collaborative nature of this program, it has helped evolve my ministry to be more focused and effective.”
Richardson went on to describe the Launch Summit as a wonderful opportunity for everyone, including the mentors and program leaders, to celebrate all their hard work “birthing so many incredibly important, diverse, innovative, and absolutely vital ministries.”
For more information about the Co-Creators Incubator, visit abhms.org.
American Baptist Home Mission Societies partners with American Baptists to promote Christian faith, cultivate Christ-centered leaders and disciples, and bring healing and transformation to communities across the United States and Puerto Rico.
American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with approximately 5,000 congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.