September 19 2015 Council Retreat Notes
A Pilgrim Council Retreat was held at the home of Peggy Linville on September 19, 2015 from 9 AM to 2:30 PM. Present were: Ann Corrin; Bob Cross; John Crowe; Pam Crowe; Paula Kahler, Dick Kahler; Lu Trulinger; Larry Solberg; Donna Nelson; Rubin Cruise; John Cerro; Tyler Schuster; Diane Hepburn; Nancy Patterson; and Rick Bonetti. In addition to several community building exercises the retreat had three components: Two Powerpoint presentations by Rev. Ann Corrin and a review of the FAITH, IN project by Rick Bonetti
Ann raised the question of our intentionallity about church vs. habit. Keeping the church open is not the same thing as “being a church.” We need to be intentional about all we do as church.
We broke into small groups and shared our experience with either staying with the same church and denomination for a long time vs. leaving the church and come back or having attended several churches. Ann asked the question of involvement with church among our own children and the majority voiced that they are nominally involved or not at all.
Ann then asked why do you go to Pilgrim? Council responses included: Ann’s sermons; Pilgrim has become our church home; Jim Horton; people at Pilgrim are volunteering in the community; Pilgrim is a non-creedal church; “I’ve been here so long it has become like a family to me”; more accepting than Catholic church was; has become our family; the attraction is the group of open minded people who accept anyone; Pilgrim is open rather than exclusive; people who agree on progressive issues and now becoming part of this family; Rev. Lindsay and people formerly from the Methodist church were active at Pilgrim – it felt like family and never left; I enjoy the faith forum and bible study classes now that I am retired and have the time for them; member interest in Hope Outreach, social justice issues and the beauty of the Frank Lloyd Wright architecture; open and free-thinking, non-judgmental people; lots of young parents with young kids kept them at Pilgrim during it’s earlier days.
Thinking Missionally – Ann’s Powerpoint Presentation
The church is not changing, it’s the culture that is changing.
Ann reviewing church history in the United States noting that many cultural/ethnic groups congregated in certain geographical areas and it was this ethnicity that was the glue that held many churches together, not theology. Those ethnic personalities are still part of the church’s personality for some churches, but that is dying. The denominational churches are bases on ethnic identity are irrelevant now.
The Old World – In the old world, the church is at the center. The church trains respectable citizens. The church blesses the culture and the culture blesses the church in a symbiotic relationship. The assumption is that everyone is a Christian; accommodation is the mode. Culture is our friend;we help people fit in. Church is about world improvement – make the world a better place. Social ministry and charity are the focus of engagement with culture. Everyone who is a good person goes to some church. We would not elect an athiest because
The Emerging World – Church is moving to the fringe. Citizenship training no longer entrusted to the church. The church addresses culture, but it either i prophetic or it co-exists with the culture. Christian now means being different.
The New World – The assumption in the new world is that everyone is NOT a Christian (even church members). Transformation, not conversion is what is essential. Accommodation to our culture is no longer an option. Culture is questioned – in the church today we are called to help people define their identity in light of their call to discipleship. Church is about participating in the Reign of God – “making the world a better place” is replaced with “setting up mission outposts” for the Reign of God. Social ministry and charity are subsumed under the call for holistic ministry and making disciples.
- Some churches want to legislate culture so the church is still in the center (religions right response).
- Become separate from culture so the church is disconnected, perhaps even irrelevant (European response.)
- A third way is where the church engages from the margins, provides an alternative voice, creates a community of disciples and invites others into the “Jesus way of life.”
We are now free for the first time in centuries to shape our message without the culture telling us what we have to say or be! The church needs to function at the margins and not from the center. We have great company at the margins; we are not the first to be there. Being at the margin will require us to be serious about discipleship, lifestyle, etc. We must “be the change we hope for” to be taken seriously.
In the old world, the church is a building, a pastor and enough laity to pay the bills.
The emerging church life/ministry serves as witness and parable of the kingdom. The job of the church is to equip and send from the “Word and Sacrament” community. Laity infiltrates society through vocation.
The changing church is moving from Communities of Care to Missionaries of Grace.
You come to church not to be cared for, but to learn how to care.
Some key paradigm shifts:
Institution and survival …………… Relational & Missional
Pastor dominated …………………. Lay ministry enhances
Program = success ………………. Relationship = success
Facility centered …………………… Grounded in the community
Physical welfare the goal ………. Spiritual welfare is at the core
Charity focus ……………………….. Holistic life transformation
Autonomous models …………….. Interdependent models
Grants reward survival ………….. Assets used for success
# Served = criteria ………………… New disciples = criteria
Faith privatized …………………… Faith goes public
Leadership professionalized …. Vocation of all the baptized
Ministry institutionalized ………. Organic church life
= Church paralized …………….. = Church propelled
Signs on the Journey – benchmarks
Church PARALIZED ………….. Church PROPELLED
Scarcety ………………………….. Abundance
Entitlement ………………………. Thanksgiving
Limited Capactity ……………… Increased capactity
Help the Pastor ………………
Emerging Learnings for the Field
- Ministry focused on God’s reign, not just the institution
- Leaders that raise up and multiply leaders, not just followers
- Congregations as training centers for mission, rather than service centers
- A heart for transformation
- The church is not an end in itself, but a means for God’s purpose
Question: How has the changing world and culture affected out congregation? (be specific)
Question: What steps have we taken to deal with this?
Question: In what ways are we operating from the margins?
- Clear purpose
- Takes spirit-led, visionary leadership
- Takes time and steady process
- Raising the bar: health and multiplication
- I’s about a promise: “I will be with you always” said Jesus
The Process Map for Ongoing Transformational Ministry
Missional Identity is at the Core – What is God up to? and What is our role?
Moving from Learning & Assessing to Discovery and Diagnosis to Planning to Implementation and back to Learning and Assessing again.
Assessing Readiness: 4 signals:
When healthy congregations are ready to multiply, they reflect 4 key signals:
- Clarity of Purpose: people know and live out the purpose and mission of their ministry
- Empowering Leadership: leaders at all levels are equipping others to use gifts and talents toward accomplishing the purpose of the ministry.
- Connection to the Context: The congregation is closely connected to its immediate community and seeks to incarnate its ministry there.
- On-going Transformation: The congregation is constantly reinventing itself and has internal systems to assess its health and effectiveness.
Are we Ready?
- God invites us to participate
- Our call is to carry out our role in God’s purpose
- Our calling is more than a job – it is a way of life
- As a Faith Community do we think and act missionally?
FAITH, IN project
Prior to our lunch break Rick Bonetti reviewed his Council experience since joining Pilgrim 4 years ago and Pilgrim’s involvement with the UCC national FAITH, IN project launched in 2012.
Rick initially served briefly as Vice Moderator and tried to stimulate interest in visioning, but little came of it as we read and discussed the book Liberating Hope: Daring to Renew the Mainline Church by Michael Piazza and Cameron Trimble, both of the Center for Progressive Renewal. The focus was primarily on becoming more outreaching and welcoming to people who may not be just like us. (an attractional model)
In summer 2013 in order to make way for younger leadership Rick traded roles with Elizabeth Betancourt who subsequently took a job that caused her to spend more time in Sacramento so unfortunately had to decline active membership on the Council. Rick joined Tara Swanson as a Connecting CoCo and the initial focus was shifted to advocacy and action in five areas: Social Justice; Food Justice, Earth Justice; Economic Justice; and Peace and Non-Violence. This macro/global view was probably daunting to most congregational members, although several people continued their involvement with Crop Walk, Hope Outreach, Rescue Mission Lunch, FaithWorks and the Plant Exchange. We had modest success with Living the Questions DVD discussion series to bring awareness to some of these global issues, but there was no real expansion of congregational involvement.
In spring 2014 in an effort to become more missional and locally-focused, the FAITH, IN project was introduced to Pilgrim Council, On June 28, 2014 eighteen members of Pilgrim met at the Redding Library for a visioning session facilitated by Rachel Hatch. We explored a wide range of ideas for how Pilgrim might express our faith in Redding. The ideas generated clustered around several topics: young family orientation; reading skills for children; learning classes for all ages; public clean up projects; helping homeless; becoming more welcoming to all; creating a public dialogue on “well-being”; neighborhood outreach; offering a unique spiritual/meditative setting; public use of Pilgrim’s building and property; having a clear public voice and graphic identity; offering an “X-Prize” for a community project; and creating a safe, vital and beautiful downtown Redding and community.
During July 2014 those attending Sunday worship were invited indicate their concurrence and prioritization on a Checklist and by placing blue dots on those ideas posted on the windows in Fellowship Hall to indicate which ones offer the greatest promise. Congregation members were also invited to add their own new ideas, to follow their own passions and interests, to initiate micro-actions and to build momentum around what works well, so that over time, Pilgrim will have become more public about our collective imagination.
The November 2014 stewardship campaign took the FAITH, IN project one step farther and asked the congregation to indicate “your personal faith commitments by checking one or more boxes in three communities: The church community; Redding community; and our world.” A spreadsheet of tabulated results were distributed at the Retreat. Personal commitments were strongest for those familiar, on-going activities required to support Sunday at church and established social activities such as Women’s L-Club and Swedish Soup Dinner. There is solid support for a Thanksgiving/Christmas baskets, Rescue Mission lunch, Hope Outreach Together, Homeless Day Resource Center, Faithworks, Plant Exchange and child education, but the greatest number of commitment responses was for French Country Market. Only a handful of the same people were interested in becoming personally involved with broad, global justice issues.
2020 Vision – Ann’s Second Powerpoint Presentation
After lunch Ann asked what we would be doing if we were not at church on Sunday? What do you do for fun that others might not know? Ann then asked “How has the changing world and culture afected our congregation? ” Responses were: living longer; technology; accelerating rate of change; open and affirming (we lost some members and gained others); polarization of society; shorter attention on span; smaller and non-nuclear families; gay marriage; younger generations expect more interactive engagement; greater social media interaction; more distractions with recreation; expectation of less heirarchial, more crowdsourced organization and decision-making; people connect in other ways and now get their entertainment in other ways due to technology.
What steps have we taken to deal with this? Responses; we are making improvements to become more technology advanced – i.e. better website; better email; experimenting with Instagram, etc.
2020 Vision asks four questions:
- “Where do we want to be as a church in five years – in 2020?
- Do we have a missional focus? In what ways are we operating from the margins? Responses were : Hope Van; Homeless Resource Center (Pilgrim is the mainstay of financial support); Open & Affirming. What is the difference between charity and engagement with the margins?
- How do we make a compete shift in generational leadership? i.e. search committee made up of younger generation.
- What is the personality/characteristics of the church calling personality and characteristics of a new pastor?
An Invitation to Dream – the Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Program
This Clergy Renewal program grant application is for $50,000 – $35,000 to pastor specifically for sabatical purpose and $15,000 to congregation to support renewal. The RFP for the grant will be released 11/15; recipients will be named 4/16; the leave can be anytime in 2017
Even if the grant is not approved by Lilly, the application and dreaming process creates a dynamic by which the pastor and the congregation will work together to identify activities that will be most beneficial for Pilgrim’s future.
Ann asked the Council for full authority to call together a group of dreamers – primarily people under 50 years of age in order to build future leadership among younger members. These dreamers will name the committee to co-write the grant with the pastor. The dreamers will bring the dream to a church Council for final signature for formal application. Then the church Council and dreamers will create a plan for 2016 to ready Pilgrim for the renewal time in 2017. Council will flesh out the plan through 2020. Information on the process is shared with the congregation throughout the work.
A motion was made and seconded to approved Ann’s 2020 Vision proposal as presented. After discussion, unanimous approval was voted upon by the Council.
A second item of business was also acted upon. A motion was made, seconded and unanimously approved to continue to include Planned Parenthood in 2015 charitable distributions and to use the same handout for FCM as was used last year.
Paula also was pleased to announce that Personnel has hired Karin Brooke to serve as Sunday School Teacher and that Randy Haynes was hired on 2 month trial basis to replace our current janitorial service.
The Retreat was wrapped up at 2:30 PM and the next Council meeting set for October 15th at 5:30 PM.
Rick Bonetti, Clerk