“The only constant is change.”
And sometimes change and its anticipation comes in more dense periods. We are in one of those periods now. When Pastor Peter announced his coming resignation last Fall, and then completed his ministry in December, it initiated a process whose guiding question is “What’s next?” A smaller question of “Who is next?” might have been the only question asked if the context of change were also smaller. That is, the focus might have been on simply searching for the next settled co-pastor. Yet, what was perceived was an opportunity to discern more widely and deeply amidst currents of change that are wider and deeper than simply personnel. Simply put, this is an opportunity to survey the ‘landscape’ and discern the path to which God is calling us in this emerging moment.
And so we have a Church Futures Task Force bringing together various pieces of the discerning puzzle; Research on the context of church and society, Listening to the voices of our congregation, studying church Staffing patterns and possibilities, looking at church Membership data and trends, and synthesizing it all together with a Steering group that will generate a report. The goal is to have our values and visions meet with our present world and cultural situation to help us discern a sense of the next 5-10 year UCUCC mission. That mission will guide our priorities and personnel.
While we have a ways to go yet in this process, much has already been done.
We hired a Bridge Minister (me, Pastor Todd) to continue the previous clergy structure while we are discerning. The Church Futures Task Force has been meeting regularly as well as each subgroup. Each is reading, collecting data, listening, discussing. We hired Rev. Don Hill as a consultant to strengthen the Church Futures process. He has already visited and begun conversations with the Team. Individual and group conversations with members and friends of the congregation have begun and will continue. Your voice is welcome and needed, and more opportunities for input are coming including a congregational survey. The goal is to have an initial status report completed in October that may then outline remaining steps in the next months.
I cannot emphasize enough the large currents of change afoot in relation to church and society in the 21st century; trends that affect every level of our church and urban community. That does not mean that everything about our church will change, but it does mean that many of the old forms and ways that some of us have known around church must evolve. We can always improve on what we know and do. We can define solutions to these and do them better. And, some change of forms and practices will be required that may be so novel that these changes and what they require are not yet known fully, and will have to be discovered and defined along the way.
Please offer your prayers and blessings to this Church Futures process and to the team members. It is a big task.
The Futures Task Force includes:
Tim Croll, Ellen Naden, Bart Klingler, Joan Davis, Margaret Stine, Mary Jean Phipps, Mary Kollar, Mary Sue Galvin, Carol Bryant, Denis Streeter, Tim Johnson, Becca McMullen, Emily Morishema, co-chairs Kathy Kripps and Pris Kloess, and Catherine Foote, the staff liaison.