Thriving Congregations Initiative

Reimagining Church

New Models for the 21st Century


This Lilly Endowment funded program is engaging with 40 congregations (ten per year for four years) who will work through an extensive self-assessment, facilitated by Yale Divinity School students in their final year of study, identifying areas of congregational life ready for new direction, for reimagining.

Each congregation will launch new initiatives supported by the cohort, by the divinity school resources, and by visionary leaders. The evolving process is being shared via this Reimagining Church website, so that congregations far and near will be able to follow each church’s efforts, and perhaps model their own reimagining process at the same time.


by Zak Carroll
Branford UCC

Trying to summarize the past eight months of dialogue and discernment is a fraught task, let alone trying to accurately the perspectives

by Zak Carroll
Branford UCC

One question inherent to the Reimagining Church program that is so fundamental that it runs the risk of being overlooked is: Why Church?

by Vanessa Gonzalez-Rivera
St. Paul and St. James

I have sat down to write this reflection since last week more times than I care to count. What should my focus be?

by Jake Cunliffe
Branford UCC

From my view as facilitator of Branford UCC’s conversation with Becca, I saw something remarkable happen.

by Rev. Barbara Libby and Ray Andrewsen
Spring Glen UCC

When I first came into this program called “Reimagining Church” I wondered aloud at one of our first meetings whether the title “Reimagining church” meant re-imagining “our” church or re-imagining the big “C” Church community.

Featured Video

First Visionary Meeting

Second Visionary Meeting

Thriving Congregations Lecture - 4-11-2021 Sponsored by Virginia Union University

9 Connecticut Congregations

Nine Connecticut congregations are participating in the Reimagining Church Project this first year of four.  The work began in September, when small working groups were established in each congregation and matched with a YDS student in their final year of study.  These working groups, facilitated by students, are engaging in a process of self-reflection and visioning as they reimagine what Church will look like for them.

These nine congregations are both small and large and represent a broad range of denominational traditions and demographic identities.  Most of all, each congregation is ready to try new things in a world that is constantly changing.

Visionary Leaders

One of the remarkable parts of this year-long experience will be the chance to work closely with nationally known visionary ministry leaders. These guests will join us, ready to tell their own story of visionary ministry, and then to focus on the work of each of ten churches, helping them to imagine the kinds of transformation that can be possible.

Rev. Becca Stevens is an Episcopal priest and the founder of Thistle Farms, in Nashville. Thistle Farms is a widely recognized model for Christian outreach, a housing first network for women survivors of addiction and sexual violence. Thistle Farms uses economic development as a tool for personal empowerment and relies on faith for changing lives. 

Marquand Lights

The Reimagining Church: New Models for the 21st Century Project

will utilize YDS students, faculty and staff with expertise in a range of ministerial skills, providing an array of opportunities to empower and strengthen congregations as they engage in this transformation. 

Collaborative, Coordinated Work

Church Teams, YDS Staff, Visionary Leaders, & Cohorts

Congregations appoint work teams of 5 members and one staff person, who meet together regularly, and with the help of YDS Student Facilitators, sketch out a picture of who the church has been, while making some tentative claims about who they hope to become. Then, through engagement with the cohort of ten congregations and Yale’s Visiting Visionary leaders, each congregation will design steps forward and an action plan for that new vision.