Lesley Mazzotta (Class of 2014) is leading two churches on the north shore of Long Island to work together in a new, path-breaking ecumenical way. For two hundred years, Christ Episcopal Church and Community Reformed Church (RCA) shared land and a historic cemetery in Manhasset, NY, but ministered independently of one another. Now, since 2012, these two churches have created an interdenominational spiritual formation ministry that brings their congregations together to share their Christian journey, experience God’s presence, build community and learn and live Christ’s ways. Mazzotta works jointly with both churches to develop curriculum, lead educational programs, organize service projects and plan fellowship opportunities for all ages.The partnership starts with children and tweens, who share a weekly Gospel-based Sunday School, as well as many special events.
The youth group is also open to neighboring churches and the community at large. Youth are participating from six other churches, including Congregational, Lutheran and Catholic, and a community youth council is being created so young people can help shape the most meaningful opportunities for their peers! Multiple spiritual, social and service programs are being planned, including a New Year’s retreat; a Lenten supper and service night; a high ropes adventure day; a car wash fundraiser, a Christmas trip to NYC and an annual summer mission trip.
Ecumenical adult programming includes: a Sunday bible study, a New Year’s Retreat Day and a Lenten supper series. A joint women’s ministry, which includes women from five other local churches, works together on opportunities that inspire and celebrate women’s lives.
“Our ecumenical partnership is powerful in its ability to unite the community, while helping bring faith into every area of our lives,” reports Mazzotta. “We recognize that all people, no matter what their denominational background or where they are on their spiritual journey, desire a place where they can fully and safely explore their faith. Our Christian diversity creates exciting opportunities to share in meaningful ways, while continuing to honor our denominational traditions through individual worship service on Sunday mornings.”
Mazzotta is pleased to see the congregations “dream big and create vibrant programming that invite faithful solutions to real life challenges that affect our society today,” including a retreat day for women and teenage girls; a day-long Youth Leadership Lab with a trip to the UN to look at the problems in our world and how to address them, and a family ministry program to discuss the complex issue of bullying. “These events would not be possible if we didn’t come together as a larger faith community in support and participation.”