Insights for Faith Leaders: Interview with Audrey Smith

Submitted by Wendy McCaig on Mon, 08/31/2020 - 11:47

Over the past several weeks I have been engaged in numerous conversations with faith leaders who are seeking to figure out how they can support families who are now facing the demands of virtual learning. 

Audrey Smith is one of many faith leaders that I have had the privilege of training and coaching in Asset-Based Community Development.  Audrey and her church, Chester United Methodist Church, went through Mission Shift training in 2015 and have been doing the hard work of building communities from the inside out since that time.  They began their ABCD efforts in the Broadwater community (you can learn more here) and are now shifting their ministry “for” the community of Greenleigh to a ministry “with” by applying Embrace’s Empowered Communities Framework which they learned during the Mission Shift training. 

Audrey is the team leader for that group. I have been coaching Audrey in her role with her church as well as her role as a lay leader within the James River District of the United Methodist Church which has been a strong supporter of ABCD efforts throughout their district, hosting a Mission Shift Training for all pastoral and lay leaders in 2019 and offering their churches micro-grants to support listening projects throughout the district.

In the interview below, Audrey shares how things have shifted since COVID-19 interrupted their listening project and how their limited interviews yeilded relationships that have continued to deepen during this crisis.

Audrey offers great insights that I believe will be of value to other faith leaders who are seeking to make the shift from “doing ministry for” to “doing ministry with.”

If you are interested in learning more about how churches are responding to this crisis, stay tuned the Embrace Communities Facebook Page as we share more updates from our church partners in coming weeks.

You can learn more about Embrace Communities Shift Training series and Coaching services at our website at

If you or your church is interested in participating a no-fee micro-learning on how churches can apply Asset-Based Community Development principles and practices in thier community engagement efforts, check out this upcoming event hosted by our colleagues from the Network from Social Transformation, Amy Moritz and Annie Allen. 

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