Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile (left) serves as board chairman for The Crete Collective and Deannae Pierre as co-director of the church-planting network. (Photos Courtesy: Crete Collective)

Churches Advance Strategy to Reach Urban Communities with New Appointment

By RNS Press Release

The Crete Collective—an initiative to plant and revitalize churches in communities with high concentrations of Black and Brown residents—has announced the appointment of its first staff member and co-director: Dennae Pierre.

“We cannot think of a more gifted and dedicated sister to take the helm of the Crete Collective than Dennae,” said Pastor Thabiti Anabwile, lead founder and current board chairman of the Collective. “As a Latina sister in Christ, Dennae adds a perspective enriched by her cultural heritage and the immigrant experience.”

Dennae Pierre was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona and is part of Roosevelt Community Church in Phoenix, where her husband, Vermon, is the lead pastor.  As co-director of Crete Collective, she will have primary responsibility for the organization’s strategic development. She will give attention to team and partnership development including advancing the mission and vision of the Collective and building strategic partnerships.

Mrs. Pierre also serves on the leadership team of Surge Network, a collaboration of missional churches in Arizona and is one of the co-directors for City to City North America. She has an MA from Covenant Theological Seminary and a DMin from Western Seminary (Holland, MI), and is also the founder of Foster Care Initiatives, a non-profit focused on foster care family reunification.

“There is a rich history of faithfulness demonstrated in churches long embedded in some of the most overlooked Black and Brown neighborhoods across America,” said Mrs. Pierre. “I’m grateful to participate in the Crete Collective and to see the Gospel planted and communities formed that are equipped to model Christ’s love to communities God has never forgotten.”

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The Crete Collective was launched by Pastors Thabiti Anyabwile (Anacostia River Church in Washington, DC), John Onwuchekwa (Cornerstone Church in Atlanta), Darryl Williamson (Living Faith Bible Fellowship in Tampa), Louis Love (New Life Fellowship in Vernon Hills, IL), Jeremy McClain (Mercy of Christ Fellowship Church in Washington, DC), and Aaron Reyes (Hope Community Church in Austin, TX). The name “Crete” comes from Titus 1:5 and Paul’s letter to Titus about remaining in Crete to plant churches.

In 2015, Anyabwile founded Anacostia River Church in southeast D.C., an area known historically as economically distressed. Several years later, Anacostia River Church became one of the flagship churches in the Crete Collective network.

Longtime pastor, Christian author and blogger at The Front Porch, Anyabwile says their mission in the network proceeds from the Great Commission. “The Crete Collective is committed to helping build a network of cooperating churches that reach all of God’s creation, with a special focus on neglected Black and Brown communities,” he said. “As America diversifies and grows in cultural populations, so should our evangelism, church-planting, and discipleship strategies. As the Christian church responds to rapidly changing demographics, the Crete Collective will specifically focus on communities of color.”

The Crete Collective aims to plant at least six churches within the next two years. In addition to planting, the network will support declining historic congregations in their return to vitality.

Because these communities face physical, financial and social need, the network churches will be active in holistic discipleship, including Gospel-informed service, support for family formation, job and wealth creation efforts, and justice.

Partner churches who financially support the Crete Collective come from all backgrounds and locations and are not required to be located in neighborhoods of focus. However, new church plants will be located inside neglected neighborhoods and communities. Network leaders are currently reaching out to churches, Christian leaders, and individuals who have a passion for this vision, to grow the collective.

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