On this side of the election, on this day of remembering all who give their lives for our country, last weekend’s church leadership retreat seems like ages ago. (Honestly, everything before Tuesday seems like ages ago.) I can’t forget, however, my excitement about the work done by an energetic group of Westerners – both the participation over the weekend and the outcomes moving forward.
You’ll be hearing more from them, but here’s a little more from me, too. This group of twenty-five – all of the session members, two current deacons and two new ones, and representatives from different session committees – used the input and feedback you shared in community conversations and worship small groups in their conversations around a strategic practical vision. Encouraged by our leaders Eunice and Sherwood Shankland to be both bold and specific, your leaders discussed aspects of our vision in small groups who were tasked with identifying priorities from all of the congregational feedback. They talked about deepening our community life; recommitting to children, youth, and young adults; engaging all of us in deepening our faith, spirituality, and discipleship; and connecting with and developing partnerships and networks for the sake of our mission.
I was proudest of this group, however, for being honest about the challenges we face looking forward. They know you are busy, and that schedules and traffic often make it difficult just to get to church. They recognize that we have work to do to improve our church communication, particularly when we have conflicts. Your leaders talked about these things, as well as the need to better align our resources – finances, personnel, facility, church organization – for the sake of our vision, and how we can create a culture in which all members discover their own ministry. And even better – they organized themselves to address these challenges, so that we might be prepared to move into a new vision.
The above words are my own; a group of leaders is still working on a more detailed, practical description. Others are in the process of considering how to clarify and articulate the results to any number of Western groups – including the deacons, committees, and other groups. We’ll have another gathering in worship the first Sunday of December, so that you might hear more and offer more feedback – as well as consider how God might be calling you to be further involved!
Giving thanks for each of you and for all of you, and for the ways you remain committed to your faith through the life of Western,