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Changing Opinions

Boston-area church planter wants to adjust perceptions about evangelical Christianity.

“Evangelical is almost a swear word here,” says Devlin M. Scott, lead pastor of NewCity Church in Newton, Massachusetts. NewCity launched with help from the Church Multiplication Network and received AGTrust Matching Funds. NewCity is also in a parent-affiliated relationship with East Coast International Church of Lynn, Massachusetts. In September 2018, Scott and his wife, Katie, planted NewCity Church in the affluent suburb 7 miles west of downtown Boston, where people tend to treat their personal faith as a private matter.

There are relatively few evangelical churches in Newton, and the nation’s current political climate means locals often put up walls due to their assumptions about what it means to be an evangelical Christian.

“People seem to embrace every type of diversity except religious diversity,” Scott says. According to Scott, a black American, people are often more accepting of his interracial marriage to Katie, who is Korean American, than they are of the Scotts’ status as Christian pastors.

However, Scott is quick to assert that people in Newton are not hostile to him or other people of faith.

“The attitude here is that your faith is what works for you, but it’s not something that is brought out in public,” he says. Although there is little outright hostility, Scott still finds it challenging to be vocal about his Christian faith because of perceptions.

“Evangelicalism isn’t trusted in this area, and for good reason,” says Scott, 35. “We evangelicals have to admit that our current reputation doesn’t fully reflect the love of Christ.”

Seeing church and Christianity done differently is exactly why Richardson “Richie” and Courtnie Douesius attend NewCity.

“All I used to get out of church was going to and listening to the worship and the sermon,” says Richie, 32. “Now it’s more than listening; I want to share with others what God is doing.”

The Douesiuses felt drawn to NewCity because of an authentic sense of community.

“It’s all about journeying with everyone together, not just at church, but throughout the week,” says Courtnie, 29. The couple also find the church’s involvement in the city to be important.

“We show up and get involved, no strings attached,” Scott says. Since Launching NewCity in 2018, Scott has been determined to change opinions in Newton about evangelicals. He has become active in several local organizations, including the Newton Interfaith Clergy Association, the Perpetual Benevolent Fund, and the Harmony Foundation. Scott spoke at the Harmony Foundation’s 52nd annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration in January. Scott sees community involvement as a way to show that NewCity is committed to making a positive contribution to the community.

“If we can help people see church differently, they might lean in and see God differently,” says Scott. Nevertheless, he knows building a church in an affluent, well-educated Boston suburb is a challenge that takes patience and persistence.

“There is no microwave church planting in New England,” he says. The Scotts previously served on staff at Northwest Assembly of God in Mount Prospect, Illinois, for seven years.

Ally Henny

Chicago-based Ally Henny is a writer, speaker, minister, and vice president of The Witness: A Black Christian Collective, an organization committed to encouraging, engaging, and empowering Black Christians. She has her Master of Divinity from Fuller Seminary with an emphasis in race, cultural identity, and reconciliation,