I am a strong believer that worship can and does happen outside of the sanctuary walls– that is why I was overly excited when my husband handed me a business card for one of the founders of “Farm Church.” He explained that he met Rev. Allen Brimer earlier that morning and that “they are doing this cool thing… church on a farm or something like that.” Full disclosure, my husband is one of the many young adults who do not go to church regularly for a variety of reasons, so when he told me that this was “really cool” I was all over it.
Farm Church started showing up in my Facebook news feed within days of my initial introduction and research. I read article after article about these three friends who attended seminary together and were now starting a new worshiping community with one another. Two of three recently moved to Durham, NC where they intend to plant this new, non-traditional, 1,001 worshiping community.
Finally, I sat down with Allen and Ben to hear their story first hand and begin brainstorming how Farm Church and Union Presbyterian Seminary can work together (I have not yet met Rev. Brandon Wert, the third friend who currently lives out of the country). As I listened to the two friends take turns recounting the many steps from the hypothetical discussions around the dinner table while still in seminary, all the way to their recent move to Durham, I was filled with a range of emotions. Neither Ben nor Allen holds back and it is all too easy to both hear and even feel the struggles and fear that came with this new faith adventure, and my already present excitement grew even more.
(Learn more about how Ben, Allen, and Brandon moved from hypothetical discussions to dropping everything and moving to Durham, NC here.)
Allen, Ben, and Brandon are currently working with a core team through the discernment and development process at as they look for land for the farm and envision what worship will look like. As a team, they are asking questions like “what do the sacraments (baptism and communion) look like in this non-traditional setting?” and “what will the welcome look like at each worship service?” while also working through more in-depth and foundational things like a statement of faith.
I hear more and more of people who want to be part of a worshiping community but do not attend Sunday morning worship for a variety of reasons. Many individuals have been hurt by a congregation or might not feel any connection when sitting in a seemingly sterile environment with a very formulaic worship service or cliques of friends that might make the environment seem unwelcoming. Even more common, I hear of people complaining because the congregations they have been a part of seem to be “all talk and no action.” Once Farm Church has land, members of the worshiping community will gather together for worship in addition to and while growing and harvesting crops for local organizations that reach out to those in need. This hands on, community focused worship is a breath of fresh air in a town that is commonly known for its low-income community.
People of all ages, not just young adults, are looking for something new and different- something that will put Christ’s teachings into action. My excitement is only a glimpse of the attitude here in Durham, NC as people wait to hear the next step for Farm Church, the worshiping community that is already planting seeds that just might open a few doors that have swollen shut over the years.
Jordan B. Davis
Church Relations Officer
Farm Church is preparing for their first public worship service which will ideally take place before Easter 2016. If you are interested in following this journey and/ or worshiping with Farm Church, “Like” them on Facebook and visit their website, www.farmchurch.org.