Summer is quickly coming to a close. Where has the time gone? On September 12th I will have been your interim pastor for a year during which time I have enjoyed getting to know you and learning about your church. This year we were also steadily meeting the requirements set by the Presbytery regarding the search process. It may feel as though there are many hoops to jump through, but each serves an important purpose as you begin the search for a new pastor.
Several times I have mentioned the Mission Study which we are required to complete and have approved by Presbytery before we can elect a Pastor Nominating committee. So far, in fulfilling the requirement, we have completed a Ten Year Trends Chart, a comprehensive statistical study ranging from membership numbers to number of baptisms, to mission giving and pledging. We have also completed the required Three Year Financial Statement. Through letters and from the pulpit we have learned about the Church Life Cycle and seen where on this chart the church finds itself. We also have learned of Church Size Theory and where we believe the church to be. We are also working on a Review of the Geography and Demographics of the Big Flats and surrounding communities.
On a recent Sunday we focused on creating a new Mission Statement, the North Star, leading to where you hope to be in terms of your calling, your purpose and your responsibility as followers of Jesus Christ. We have learned about Family Systems Theory and have seen how the church is indeed a family, and how it might best handle anxiety and conflict among its members.
Another task is that we write a Narrative, the story of the church which gives us a comprehensive view of the churches history as we look ahead to its future. To help us to do this we need to create a Timeline. I have completed the years 1827- 1960, volunteers are working on subsequent decades. Some information is easier to obtain that others. Your help is is needed! For the 60’s 70’s 80’s 90’s the 2000’s we need your memories of the church, any issues that might have arisen, the style of ministry, or any highlights, anything that can cast a light on church life at that time. You can email me, or stop by the office. We also need to do an extensive review of our facilities.
Visioning and writing our Future Story is ongoing. I have distributed a sheet to help in this process. Copies can be found in the back of the church.
We cannot elect a Pastor Nominating Committee until our Mission Study has been approved by Presbytery, but we can prayerfully consider whom we might ask to serve. If there is someone you think should be on the PNC or if you would like to be considered, please let me know. A basic requirement has to do with time commitment since it could prove to be a long process, and it is essential that members be present at the meetings. I am hopeful that members would be spiritually grounded, patient, positive, thoughtful, open-minded, and good listeners. A sense of humor might also be helpful.
We are truly moving ahead in this process and we need all you to be willing and active participants. This past week a comprehensive Pastor Search Survey was distributed to the congregation. If you have not yet done so, please complete and return to the church. A stamped envelope has been provided.
And please join us on September 10, for Rally Day Sunday as we kick off a new church year. Bring friends and family. All are welcome! The Timeline will be on the wall of the Church House for you to study, reminisce over and add to. There will be a play area for the children. And, of course, cake and ice cream Sundaes will be served. Come, we will be waiting for you.
As the poet Rumi wrote,
“Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn’t matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.”