History of Ikon
After completing his residency at All Souls Fellowship, located in Decatur, Darryl Ford and the core team make preparations for planting Ikon. Two years prior to beginning his residency, Darryl settled on the name "Ikon" (Greek for "image") to highlight God's work of creating us in God's image. This means that all people were created to reflect God's grace and renewal in the world. The name also leads us to reflect on Christ's redemptive work in restoring us as image bearers.
Developing a Core Team
Through relationships Darryl developed during his years of ministry, a core team of a few members begin gathering for vision, prayer, and planning in anticipation for Ikon's first services. In the fall of 2013, Darryl also invites Meme (Ikon Worship Leader) and Phil (Ikon Worship Technical Director) to join the core team. Given Darryl's passion for music and worship, these additions have cultivated Ikon's commitment to be a community that celebrates, communicates, and experiences God’s grace together.
"I was excited to be part of a committed group of people who longed for renewal and genuine community. My husband and I served on the community assessment team. The goal was to get to know the community, identify areas of brokenness and injustice so that we could be a church that meets genuine needs in order to be of benefit to the community. We also looked for what was strong about the community in order to come alongside and support the good work that was already happening. I learned so much about myself and others. I was changed in dramatic ways as a result of being part of this kind of ministry."
Jen Joins the Launch Team
Having worked together previously at a church in Indiana, Darryl invites Jennifer Botzet to join the core team. As pastors, Darryl and Jen work to launch Ikon's summer preview services at All Souls Fellowship, where Darryl completed his Church Planting Residency. Jen's vision to see the Church not as a program or organization, but as the living and active embodiment of Christ on the earth solidifies Ikon's values of grace, community, and renewal.
"Desiring to be a part of Ikon has been and continues to be an active and driving work of the Spirit in my heart, mind, and soul to see the Church repent and be reformed - and for it to be a catalyst and empowered agent for righting wrongs and setting people free."
First Church Service
Ikon launches regular church services at the East Lake Park Recreation Center. At this time, initial attendees primarily consist of those from the immediate East Lake community. As an unconventional worship space, each week required significant teamwork and cooperation for set up, tear down, and showing hospitality to the increasing number of visitors. From those who worked at the Recreation Center to passersby on the street, Ikon became a place where people from all walks of life gathered for worship in community.
Year 1: Emerge
"The preaching at Ikon brings insight, truth, and attention to biblical context that you might not get elsewhere."
Missional Community Groups Begin
Placing a high priority on building community, Ikon starts it's Missional Community Groups. These small groups meet in homes across the Decatur and East Atlanta metro areas. In many ways, it felt like family as people at Ikon gathered for deeper conversations, learning, and fellowship. In partnership with the East Lake Foundation, a local non-profit, these groups also served together by volunteering in the community.
Ikon's First Membership Class
Six months after its first service, Ikon begins its first member class. At Ikon, church membership keeps us accountable to each other. We are saying, “I am here to stay. I want to help you grow in godliness. Will you help me to do the same?” At Ikon, church membership is an integral piece for community and discipleship.
YEAR 2: CULTIVATE
Despite its small size, Ikon prioritizes building community not only within the church, but also within the community. Regular bimonthly book clubs begin, allowing attendees to learn about domestic and international forms of injustice, while also considering implications for how we might respond to these issues. Prayer gatherings and continued volunteer opportunities with the East Lake Foundation also move those at Ikon to be attentive to the needs of those around us.
"What resonated most was an attempt to be a unified and diverse body of Christ in the midst of a Christian community that for the most part is incredibly segregated…that's what the body of Christ is called to and if we can't do it in the church, how can we ever think and trust that the world will do it."
Ikon Moves to South Dekalb Movie Theater
After outgrowing the Recreation Center, Ikon moves worship services to the movie theater at South Dekalb Mall. The congregation experiences some significant shifts in attendance due to the location change. Nevertheless, Ikon begins attracting people from all over the metro Atlanta area. Primarily due to word of mouth, Ikon sees a major increase in church attendance and reaches seating capacity during its first Sunday, as well as many Sundays afterward.
YEAR 3: REVEAL
As a multi-ethnic church community with an array of political leanings, the 2016 election marked a significant time for Ikon Community Church. Missional Community Groups became a central way for the church to engage in difficult conversations with one another. Through listening, processing, and learning, Ikon sought to be a place where people could lean into questions about values, identity, and justice. This involved confronting truths that call us to seek the flourishing of all image-bearers.
"So many people (whether you're a person of color or not) were wanting to have these difficult conversations, but didn't know how to engage in them, didn't have places where they could...I wanted a place where I could worship the Lord and be challenged and feel okay to do so."
Serving our neighbors
Despite the various changes in location, Ikon remains committed to serving its Atlanta neighbors, especially Atlanta's refugee community. Whether through clothing drives or Ikon Kids collecting cleaning and hygiene supplies, Ikon seeks to engage the larger community. Ikon's Community Development Team (CDT) also develops during this time with the goal of helping Ikon join God in the work of bringing renewal in our communities, affirming the dignity of image bearers, and ushering in the coming Kingdom.
YEAR 4: STEWARD
Through an eight-week sermon series, "Stewarding Privilege", Ikon dives deeper into an exploration of various forms of injustice. This series challenges us to consider how we can leverage whatever privilege we possess (related to race, gender, citizenship status, etc.) for the flourishing of those who are often overlooked and/or ignored. Additionally, the series equips us with tools and a shared language for addressing some of the biggest heart pains of our culture. Following the end of the series, Ikon hosts a panel discussion on racial privilege for further conversation.
"Being at Ikon has challenged me to reconcile my cultural identity. Ikon has provided a safe place for me to ask questions about my culture and to consider which voices and people I may have overlooked."
Ikon moves to All Souls Fellowship
After outgrowing the movie theater, Ikon moved worship to the afternoons at All Souls Fellowship, a church in Decatur. Ikon continues to attend to present-day challenges and injustices, while using scripture to reorient our minds and actions toward God's vision of community.
Panel on Gender Privilege
As an additional follow up to the "Stewarding Privilege" series, Ikon hosts a panel on gender privilege featuring several women from Ikon. The panel was born out of a need to respond to conversations happening in national and church-related spheres regarding women. Seeking to restore our view of women, the panel centered the stories and experiences of women who lead at work, in the home, at church, and the many places where women are needed to bear God's image in the world.
YEAR 5: RESTORE
With the leadership of Ikon's Church Planter Resident, John Thompson, Ikon starts Ikon Students, a ministry for youth 6th-12th grade.
As Ikon continues to explore what it means to bear the image of Christ in the world, we also seek to live out that image beyond our Sunday gatherings. In great expectation for what God will do this next year, we invite you to join us in listening and responding to God's movement in our church, our community, and our world.