"What the Movement is attempting to do is unify the Christian body," Kotecki says. "He (God) told us 2,020 years ago to come together. It can take us a long time to learn. And everything our Lord tells us is to come together and we're doing that. The key is: Can we continue and sustain that relationship to move forward to transform the community."
MWM's vision is to have every community in West Michigan flourish spiritually and socially. Leaders serve as the catalyst to spiritually and socially impact their communities through rigorous research, uniting prayer, unified local leadership and powerful collaboration between diverse sectors.
MWM has its roots with the New York Leadership Center, which was founded in 2008 and is now, Movement.org..
In 2010, Movement.org launched Movement Day, which is a collaboration of Christian leaders and influencers crossing denominational, ethnic, geographic and socio-economic divides through measurable progress against the greatest spiritual, social and ethnical challenges.
Movement.org has increasingly received invitations to serve cities nationally and globally, focusing on how to best call together church, nonprofit and business leaders within a city so a municipality can flourish spiritually and socially. The result: a relationship with 200-plus cities across five continents that have either launched Movement Day or are working to launch initiatives in cities across their countries.
A integral part of Movement West Michigan's research involved culling what the "stubborn spiritual and social issues" that vex their communities are and, in so doing, unify commerce, community and church leaders for solutions.
"We took 17 different regional and national studies done in Ottawa County ... and we had the DeVos Center at Hope College review them and come up with the top present issues they saw," Kotecki says. "There were three identified in early 2019."
Social problems the collective studies cited were mental health challenges that crossed all ages and ethnicities; second was affordable housing; and last, literacy, "which had a very large disparity with African American, Hispanic and low income people," Kotecki says.
"What we did not have, and we found this out quickly, was there no information on the churches," she adds. "We have 318 churches in Ottawa County had had 50 percent or more of its citizens attending church once or twice a month. We have a very large population of Christians. We received (survey response) of 78 churches, which was a good mix of denominations, and probably close to 80,000 congregants of those churches.
"That showed churches are very invested in funding programs, and (providing) volunteers in the basic needs," Kotecki continues.
The four pillars
MWM, like Movement.org, adhere to four pillars it considers vital. They are:
• Unifying Prayer: MWM believes in the power of prayer. Prayer meetings are being held virtually via the remote conferencing service, Zoom.
Thanks to technology, the pandemic is not stopping people from rallying together to pray to God for answers.
"We have 55 to 100 people on a Zoom call every day at 2 p.m.," Kotecki says. "Together we talk about the newest things that are happening and that is changing daily. We decide what are the most urgent needs. Our churches are coming around with food distribution of food to students because schools are closed. The other thing talking about what we can do with the homeless. Third option is childcare. The executive order from the government to ISDs (Intermediate School Districts) is to provide childcare to essential workers, a fluid definition. Bottom line is what can churches do for that?"
Then in 2021 a Movement Day is planned for the greater Holland/Zeeland area.
• Rigorous Research: Research is considered critical to learn about the needs in the community and what is already being done to address these needs. We aim to be a go-to source for resources to community improvement.
• Uniting Local Leadership: MWM believes it's important for leaders and volunteers to use the most powerful change agent available to them: love. Faith leaders from diverse sectors of the community are coming together to partner, serve, and accelerate the gospel movement throughout West Michigan by addressing the biggest challenges in their region.
• Catalyzing Powerful Partnership: MWM's mission is to unify commerce, community, and church leaders to address the spiritual and social needs of their community. MWM is doing this by developing trusted relationships and bringing together many sectors in order to identify best practices and create a community where everyone has the opportunity to flourish.
MWM has provided resources to help churches address the impact of the novel coronavirus. Here is the link: bit.ly/MWMCoronavirusResources.
"This is about relationships, this is about trust, it's about authentic conversation and it's about the whole community, the whole church and the whole gospel," Kotecki says. "I see it happening more and more and those relationships are becoming deeper. Champions are coming to the surface saying, 'I want to do something.'"