Boston’s Book of Acts
Prior to the publication of New England’s Book of Acts, Emmanuel Gospel Center (EGC) published a compilation called Boston’s Book of Acts. This document captured the stories of the ongoing work of God through a sampling of the ethnic and immigrant churches of Greater Boston from 1965 to 2002. The idea for Boston’s Book of Acts came about in 2001 when Rev. Dr. Gregory Groover, Sr. of Charles Street AME Church in Roxbury, Massachusetts, expressed his interest to EGC to learn more about what God was doing among the various ethnic groups in Boston. In the 1980’s, many people thought that Christianity and churches were declining in the city of Boston. But as EGC was doing applied research on the churches of Boston, EGC recognized that the number of churches was growing, rather than declining. Dr. Doug Hall, EGC president, called this phenomenon the Quiet Revival. It was God’s work and intervention, rather than any human design or program, that caused this growth to occur. The growth of churches was mostly happening in minority or immigrant churches. As a result, this became the focus of research.
When Rev. Groover, stated his interest to know more about what God was doing more broadly within the diverse ethnic groups of Boston, it sparked an idea in Dr. Hall’s mind for Boston’s Book of Acts. The book of Acts in the Bible describes in narrative form how the Gospel was advanced and churches were planted historically with key events and leaders. Boston's Book of Acts follows this pattern by telling how God has been working among the churches in Boston in a similar way as to the book of Acts in the Bible. In 2001, EGC began holding monthly breakfast meetings, which brought many people of different ethnicities in the Boston area to fellowship and to share about their group. One or two groups would share at each meeting. After collecting data from these meetings and doing additional research, Boston's Book of Acts was created. The stories of thirteen ethnic communities in Boston were captured. This culminated in 2002 with the Multicultural Leaders Consultation. This was a conference that brought together all of the leaders and people who were involved in Boston’s Book of Acts to share about what God has been doing in growing the churches of the ethnic communities in Boston.
After the Multicultural Leaders Consultation and the publication of Boston’s Book of Acts, the monthly fellowship meetings of diverse leaders continued until 2003. During this time, EGC staff members - Rev. Dr. Gregg Detwiler (Intercultural Ministries), Rudy Mitchell and Brian Corcoran (Applied Research) - began to reflect and think about the next steps. While capturing the stories of ethnic groups in Boston, they recognized that the networks of relationships extended far beyond Boston. As all cities, Boston has a lot of people movement not only inward, but also outward into the suburbs, region, nation, and around the world. Just focusing on one city does not capture the full picture of what God is doing in a particular ethnic group. There needs to be an application of the mental model found in Acts 1:8 when Jesus said that his disciples would “be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Thus, the next focus of study, reflection and networking went from the city of Boston to the region of New England.
New England’s Book of Acts
After identifying these ethnic groups and people groups, the next step was to collect additional data and information. This was done in a variety of ways. First, there was Boston’s Book of Acts to build on. Those individuals who were involved with writing articles for that publication were asked to update them with more recent information. Second, EGC did additional research on certain groups sometimes by developing and sending a questionnaire to key leaders of churches. Third, EGC staff sometimes conducted interviews and focus groups. Gregg, Rudy and Brian identified key leaders of the churches and interviewed them about their ethnic community during the immigration period to the United States between 1965 and the present. Focus groups involved gathering a group of church leaders of the same ethnic community and having a discussion with them. Each of these ways of collecting information for New England’s Book of Acts was found effective depending on the culture of the particular ethnic group or people group. But no matter which method was employed, building relationships of trust and strengthening networks was always kept in high view.
In 2007, the Intercultural Leadership Consultation was held to share about the stories captured in New England’s Book of Acts. It gathered leaders from many ethnic and people groups in the New England region and beyond. It was during this conference that printed copies of New England’s Book of Acts were distributed. After this consultation, Gregg, Rudy and Brian followed up on people who pointed out corrections and misunderstandings in the book.
In 2010, the EGC hosted the Ethnic Ministries Summit: A City Without Walls. This summit brought together 700 diverse leaders from across the New England region as well as across North America. Many other cities and regions were inspired to do applied research just as EGC is doing.
New England’s Book of Acts – Online!
Aside from the print copies that were distributed, New England’s Book of Acts was available online only for download in a PDF form. However, Rev. Dr. Gregg Detwiler, the director of Intercultural Ministries, had a vision for it to be an interactive webpage for editing. New England's Book of Acts is a living document. This means that it is constantly being expanded and updated. The stories of the people groups captured so far is only a glimpse of the bigger picture of what God is doing to expand His Kingdom. In the summer of 2012, this website was created and launched to expand and update New England’s Book of Acts.
If you are interested in being a part of assisting us in improving and expanding New England's Book of Acts, please contact us by using the form here. In the future, we hope to have a translation tool so that people around the world can read about what God is doing in their own language!
May God be glorified as more relationships are built and the stories of Kingdom growth among ethnic groups are shared more broadly!