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Embrace Richmond’s core belief is that great neighbors make neighborhoods great. We also believe faith communities can play a critical role in growing great neighbors. This belief in the unique gifts and capacity of the faith community is why when we launched our Great Neighbor Training Academy. Last fall we began offering a special training designed specifically for congregations.  We call this church-specific training, “Mission Shift.”   The goal of the Mission Shift training is to teach congregations how to identify, support and empower local neighborhood leaders. In other words, we teach congregations how to grow great neighbors.

Since the launch of the Mission Shift training series, Embrace Richmond has trained more than 150 local congregational members in asset-based community development principles and practices. Our “Mission Shift” curriculum was designed to help congregations make ten fundamental shifts in their mission’s efforts with the goal of developing a more holistic, sustainable, transformational and empowering approach to local missions that goes beyond handouts to real lasting community change.

We are thankful for the pioneering congregations and partners who helped us get this training program off the ground – Baptist General Assembly of Virginia, Cornerstone Assembly of God, Chester United Methodist Church, Brandermill Church,  Baptist Theological Seminary, and Union Presbyterian Seminary.

We currently offer the Mission Shift training in three formats:

  • A Learning Cohort: This is a small group of 12-15 key leaders from 3-5 congregations who are trained in ABCD best practices with the goal of then taking these principles and practices back to their home church.
  • A Church-based Training: This training is intended for churches who want to make the shift toward community development as a congregation. The examples used and the exercises that are a part of the training are tailored to match the existing ministries that the church is engaged in as well as the churches context and unique calling.
  • Key Leader Coaching: Individual coaching is also available to key congregational leaders who would like to be trained in ABCD and who will then lead their congregations through the shift process. Coaching is done monthly over the period of six months to a year and customized to the needs of the congregation.

We are currently leading a learning cohort in partnership with Baptist General Association of Virginia. This particular cohort includes key leaders from five local congregations. Our newest staff member, Steven Ebert, will be documenting this process and will be following these five congregations as they make each of these shifts toward community development. We invite you to come learn alongside Steven and discover through these congregations the unique gifts that local congregations bring to the community transformation process. Steven will also be updating you on our existing partnerships with Cornerstone, Chester UMC and Brandermill as each of them moves into phase 1 of their asset-based community development efforts. So please stay tuned!

If you or your congregation would like to learn more about the Embrace Mission Shift training, please email Wendy McCaig at