; charset=UTF-8" /> The New Adventure : Connecting Voices
Free hacker tools

The New Adventure

by Rev. Betty Sue Sherrod, First Congregational Church of Santa Barbara, UCC

     In Santa Barbara, we started a journey several years ago.  We asked the questions:  Who are we now?  What is the purpose of the church?  What is God calling us to be and do?

     In October of 2009 we answered those questions with a vision statement that talked about who we are with God:

We are a progressive Christian community where . . .

1) We believe in a God of many names, source of all creation, mysterious, beyond comprehension, and yet intimate and accessible. We find God revealed in the natural world, in history, in our evolving understanding of scripture, in our experiences, in our own faith tradition and in the truths revealed in other faiths. 
2) We strive to follow the teachings of Jesus by practicing love and forgiveness, promoting health and wholeness for all persons, and working for social justice. We affirm the sacredness of all persons of all abilities, ages, ethnicities, genders, gender expressions and sexual orientations. 
3) We honor the sacredness of creation by working to heal the earth and preserve its resources for future generations.
4) We accept the challenge to serve as God’s hands in creating a community and world of compassion, justice and reconciliation.

and listed 10 priorities for action:

During the next five years we will continue to be a vibrant open and affirming Christian congregation that will work toward:

1.  Nurturing the spiritual needs of all age groups through meaningful and inspiring worship, music and educational programs.

2.  Continuing to live out our commitment to being an “Open and Affirming” Congregation that welcomes people in all their diversity.

3.  Offering emotional, spiritual and material support for individuals and families.

4.  Sponsoring and more visibly supporting social witness programs in our broader community.

5.  Sponsoring at least one specific program to improve our environment and serve the needs of our planet.

6.  Restructuring our organizational plan as needed to serve our current and an evolving membership effectively.

7.  Reaching out to present our congregation as a resource to young families and encourage their participation.

8.  Seeking the best ways to lovingly serve the changing needs of our members and prospective members.

9.  Maintaining a sound financial base for our ministries.

10.  Utilizing and expanding effective modes of communication with our members and the wider community, including the use of emerging technologies.

      The next step was to create a structure that would best help us to make our vision and priorities a reality.  We decided to shape our structure around three core ministries – inviting, transforming and sending – and a council whose main job would be to steward the vision.  We’re almost there.

     This year will be a year of experimentation.  We are participating in God’s work of transformation.  We are making a new thing.  The Inviting ministry will explore how to best invite others to our community and to an experience of faith.  The Transforming ministry will explore how to make a space where God can transform our lives and the lives of others.  The Sending ministry will explore ways to send us into the world to live what we believe.

     This is wonderful stuff, but sometimes it may not feel wonderful.  The Inviting ministry could also be involved in transformation.  The Transforming ministry could also be involved in inviting.  The Sending ministry could also be involved in transforming.  There will be overlap in the different ministries.  We’re going to be feeling and thinking our way through this year.  We’re going to be making it up as we go along, so let’s keep our vision statement, the action list and our new constitution close.  We will remember the questions that we started with:  Who are we now?  What is the purpose of the church?  What is God calling us to be and do?

     This has the potential of being a different kind of year that is rich with creativity and Spirit.  This is a good time to remember that the United Church of Christ has said that the purpose of the church is to change lives.  So, as we go, in Santa Barbara, we will do our best to put God first, to breathe, ponder, pray, experiment, explore, and trust God to guide us.

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!

Spam protection by WP Captcha-Free