By Rev. Greg Moore
The Ten Dollar Club was ahead of its time.
Truth be told, it was ahead of our time.
The year was 1953 and, by all empirical measures (number of congregations, members, budgets, etc.), The Methodist Church in North Carolina was strong. There were congregations in almost every place (from Manteo to Murfreesboro, as they say) doing the work of the people called Methodists.
There were a little over 4.5 million people living in North Carolina then (only about 50% of our current population), and there were approximately 680 Methodist churches in the eastern part of the state (about 85% as many churches as we have in our conference today). AME, AME Zion, Baptist, and Pentecostals were also seeing similar strength in numbers and ubiquity of presence.
If ever there was a time to say that we had enough churches, that was it.
And yet, in that moment of seeming church saturation, the people called Methodists in North Carolina formed a movement to create new spaces for new people.
They called it The Ten Dollar Club.
The idea was simple: every member of The Methodist Church would give $10, five times a year (the equivalent to about $500/year in 2017 money). That money would then be used to establish new Methodist congregations across the conference.
Some of our strongest congregations today were formed during this era and were established using the collected resources and vision of The Ten Dollar Club.
The New Room
While the formation of the Ten Dollar Club was ahead of its time, it wasn’t really a new thing. Particularly for Methodists.
In 1739, John Wesley took up an offering from the people called Methodist to construct what would become The New Room. The purpose of the New Room was to attend to three particularly Methodist disciplines: Liturgical Worship (making preachers out of everybody) Relational Discipleship (by training class leaders) and Holistic Mission (by providing food and clothing to the poor in the area around Bristol).
These three disciplines became the primary way Methodists lived our lives and created new space for new people to find their way into communion with God, each other and the world.
This was how we went ahead, with God’s grace, into the world.
The New Room Society
This year marks another new beginning for this old work.
In June of 2017, The New Room Society (NRS) was launched.
The NRS is an order of laity and clergy who are called to create new space for new people. Our lives are bound together by:
- Common Prayer (Daily Prayer and Weekly Fasting)
- Common Disciplines (Liturgical Worship, Relational Discipleship, Holistic Mission)
- Common Learning (Collaboratively learning from one another)
Going forward, The Ten Dollar Club and The New Room Society are one in the same.
Joining The New Room Society
There are two ways to join the NRS.
The first is to become an NRS Sponsor. This means supporting the NRS financially (100% of your funds go directly to start new Methodist faith communities in North Carolina) and joining us in our shared prayer life.
The second is to become an NRS Planter. This means that you feel called to create new space for new people in some way, and would like to fully covenant to our three practices (above).
Either way you join the NRS, know that you are participating in a very old work, which is still ahead of its time. You will be the very incarnate presence of God’s prevenient grace, going ahead to extend communion to all.