Rev. Jeremy Wicks describes the many diverse “pieces” of Mosaic Church in Traverse City. God, the artist, brings us together and creates something that is beautiful.”
REV. PAUL DONELSON
Michigan Conference Communication
Rev. Jeremy Wicks, pastor of Mosaic Church, a new United Methodist church start in the Traverse City area, has his job cut out for him. Jeremy will quickly tell you of the wonderful opportunities awaiting. But, at the same time, he’s frank about some of the challenges that may be on the horizon.
Located in a beautiful countryside five miles south of Traverse City, in the midst of small lakes and upscale residential developments, there sits a church building complete with sanctuary, fellowship hall, rooms for Christian education, a large parking lot, and a big vegetable garden. The building once housed Christ United Methodist Church, a congregation that was officially closed by action of the 2018 Michigan Annual Conference.
In 2017, Wicks was appointed to start a new church, there. Within a short time, Wicks came up with the name, “Mosaic Church,” explaining, “I’ve always seen the church as people of all different shapes and sizes and colors and textures that God brings together as an artist and creates something that is beautiful. And as I was explaining this to someone, one day, the person said, ‘Hey! That sounds like God is creating a mosaic!’ So, I said, ‘Wow! That sounds like a great name for a church!’”
According to Wicks: “Our folks come from different walks of life, with different opinions and thoughts on theological and social issues, but we strive to live in community together, even when we disagree. We’re very clear about that, and consider ourselves to be a welcoming community, inclusive of everyone – all different sizes and shapes being brought together by God to create a masterpiece.”
Wicks points out that most of the people Mosaic has attracted so far are “persons who have been burned by the church, or are simply tired of the same old thing, and are done with an inward-focused version of Christianity.”
Right now, Mosaic Church and Wicks are working closely with the Kingsley United Methodist Church, about eight miles away. Since the pastor of that church owns her own home, Wicks, his wife, and their four children live in the Kingsley parsonage.
Wicks exclaims, “The Kingsley church has been amazing! We look at them as partners. I was their story teller for VBS. When they have stuff we get involved. When we have stuff they get involved. We did a small group together in Kingsley and started a Wednesday after-school lunch program from January to the end of the school year for local Kingsley school children. Thanks to a grant from the Grand Traverse District. together we packed a hundred lunches a week for any high school student who needed one.”
“The area is ripe and ready for persons who are willing to think out of the box and for existing churches that are willing to walk outside of their doors.” ~ Rev. Jeremy Wicks
Mosaic will be starting more small groups very soon and continues to be in partnership with Kingsley UMC and Traverse City Central UMC, as often as possible. Some of the small groups will be based on what is called, “Pub Theology.” Wick’s says, “We’ll call the groups ‘Bible and Brew.’ One of them will be in a coffee house and the other one will be in a pub. So the name fits for either location. We have two that will start this month and a couple more starting in September.”
Wicks says he is also excited that a world-renowned yoga instructor will be teaching five yoga classes in their building throughout the week, saying, “Not only will that get people into the church, but the church will be paid 10% of what the yoga instructor brings in.” Then the Sunday after Labor Day the church will be launching a free “holy yoga worship service” from 9:00am to 10:00am. Wicks points out that “John Wesley bridged western and eastern thought in a lot of his theological understandings. So, maybe there’s something to be said about us stepping outside of the norm, or what we think of as being the norm.”
One of Mosaic’s challenges is that the church has relatively little in the way of financial support, at this time. The Annual Conference generously granted the project phase one funding in the amount of a little more than $200,000. It is expected that this grant, paying for ministry, outreach, salary and building expenses, will only last around 18 months. Wicks and his team will soon send out a letter to churches across the state asking for support. “Of course, it is difficult for a new church start like ours to measure success over the short term,” he says. “On the other hand, we can’t depend upon the Annual Conference for financial support forever.”
Yet, Wicks believes there is a lot of potential for church growth in the Traverse City area. He says that there are a lot of new residents who are involved in the year-round tourist industry. “The area,” he believes, “is ripe and ready for persons who are willing to think out of the box and for existing churches that are willing to walk outside of their doors. The people aren’t going to come rushing to our churches just because we’re here. Rather, we have to be creative about getting out of our building, going to where the people, themselves, are gathering, oftentimes in small numbers.” The pastor makes a point about counting numbers. “While gatherings in our building may be less than 40 at this time, the measure of our success may be in how effectively we’re able to minister to many more persons outside our walls.”
Ironically, one of the interesting possibilities Wicks has been thinking about might be a three-tiered approach to Sunday that came from one of the Mosaic launch team members. The idea came from an agnostic boyfriend who had been seriously disaffected by his experience with organized religion. The concept begins in the morning offering the holy yoga worship service. After, that, around 11 a.m., they could have a serve project wherein participants could do something at the church or somewhere else to minister to the community in a variety of ways. Finally, in the evening there could be a worship service.
“At this point,” says Wicks, “we’re absolutely dependent upon and open to the leading of the Holy Spirit. With any of these service projects we could do a 30-second sermon, say a prayer, and then get going ministering to people. For many persons, especially those who have been disenfranchised or disregarded as a result of what they’ve experienced of Christianity, from the media, and elsewhere, this would be more than enough. In many ways this has a class meeting vibe. Of course, John Wesley expected persons who went to those meetings to also be in community service.”
Rev. Wicks entered into professional ministry in 2011 as a local pastor, starting in a small village church downstate. He continues to go through the required courses of study for licensed local pastors. This, he says, has motivated him to continue to pursue the completion of educational requirements for becoming an ordained elder.